Most often we relate fasting to extended periods of time when we don’t eat. But for the non-Ghandis amongst us, the period of time when we don’t eat is nighttime. Maybe we’re dreaming of eating, but by the strictest definition, we’re “fasting” while we sleep.
And when do we break that fast? In the morning, of course, at break-fast! This second part of the series, Is everything we know about breakfast wrong, is simply that breakfast is all about breaking the fast.
The very beginnings of breakfast has been traced to the industrial revolution in the mid 19th century, with regularized work hours and labourers needing an early meal to sustain them at work. Then all classes started to eat a meal before going to work, even the big wigs. At the turn of the 20th Century, breakfast was revolutionised once again by American John Harvey Kellogg, who accidentally left some boiled maize out and it went stale. He passed it through some rollers and baked it, creating the world’s first cornflake. He sparked a multi-billion dollar industry. So that’s the origin of cereal: boiled, stale, rolled, baked maize. Excellent.
By the 1920s and 1930s the government was promoting breakfast as the most important meal of the day, but then WW2 made the usual breakfast hard to get. As Britain emerged from the post-war years into the economically liberated 1950s, things like American toasters, sliced bread, juices, instant coffee and pre-sugared cereals invaded the home. Breakfast as we now know it was born: the blood sugar roller coaster we’re all been unwittingly committing to each morning for too long.
So what’s the best breakfast and what do we need? In the first part of this series of breakfast we talked about the best breakfast as the one you can digest. Unfortunately most people misinterpret the “fast” part as the most important, and see how speedily they can wolf down anything before we leave for work. And whether or not to eat in the morning is a point of much contention; some people are just plain not hungry in the morning. From not having time to eat breakfast, to grabbing something quick that’s not going to be a waste of eating space, right the way to the end of the continuum when some of us are just plain not hungry, which is interestingly a symptom of insufficient stomach acid and last night’s meal still going down so there technically wasn’t a fast in the first place, breakfast can tell us a lot about your body.
Breaking the fast from what our body’s been doing overnight is actually a much needed thing. But that means you’ve actually fasted – not eaten too late, actually properly digested your meal at each important stage of digestion, and naturally entered then into your body’s daily detox processes; all while you’re asleep.
But what’s food got to do with it and where do our symptoms meet our nutrient needs? Because there are things we can eat to enhance the efficiency of the nightly detox fast, and to break it properly, as well as things we can notice about our bodies that are letting you know what it needs.
Things you can do tonight, and tomorrow morning, to help break the fast:
- Don’t eat too late. Leaving 1.5-2 hours before bed means your body will have ample digestive time so your sleeping can be all detoxing time
- ACV before meals
- Taking 1 teaspoon of coconut oil before bed: ketones are more effectively produced at night so we can support ketones for energy, recovering even better for the next day. An inability to use ketones, like the need for snacks especially while training, is a sign you cannot burn fat as an energy source. Using ketones for fuel instead of glucose can come from dietary changes – a blood sugar control diet is the key
- Chronic inflammation either from over-training or consuming foods you’re intolerant (and unaware of) to, as well as a lack fatty acids and dehydration. To balance this, we need to anti-inflame which our body does naturally if allowed, but fish oils are especially good. They help speed recovery, post exercise or healing anywhere internally for that matter
Breakfast is the first place we can make health changes for the better and where we can start the day off on the right foot, with a little bit of me time. Between you and me, I wish it was called “break-slow”. Digestion begins in the brain), which means you have to be in a parasympathetic state, so relaxed, to digest your meal in the first place. And let’s face it that’s just not mornings for most of us. But what if your breakfast established the tone of your day for the next 16 hours. Why not treat yourself to a nice meal and a quality hour to collect yourself and focus on what’s important.
Here are more of my favourite breakfast recipes. Cooking is a way to teach nutrition and biology of the body: yours.
Try these other very different breakfasts: