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Break­fast is the most im­por­tant meal of the day, but when was the last time we re­ally thought about what we eat in the morn­ing? A re­cent study by Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don re­veals skip­ping break­fast and ir­reg­u­lar sleep pat­terns con­trib­ute to child­hood obe­sity.

Anne-So­phie Bourhis, nu­tri­tion­ist at Kel­logg’s Mid­dle East, has ob­served that kids and adults in the UAE don’t prac­tice healthy break­fast habits. “Be­cause of busy life­styles, it seems more peo­ple, both lo­cals and ex­pats, tend to skip break­fast or re­place it with a hot bev­er­age only,” she says. “It is im­por­tant, espe­cially for chil­dren as they need nu­tri­tious meals for their growth and de­vel­op­ment. Oth­er­wise they may not eat un­til lunch – a long time since din­ner the night be­fore. This hardly gives them the start they need to learn and be their best at school.”

She adds there is a pos­i­tive link be­tween eat­ing break­fast and men­tal and phys­i­cal per­for­mance. “While we are sleep­ing, the body still needs en­ergy to keep the brain, lungs, heart and other or­gans work­ing. By eat­ing break­fast, you re­stock the en­ergy stores that have been de­pleted overnight and this helps you be­gin the day with a tank full of the right fuel,” Bourhis ex­plains.

“If you start your day with­out eat­ing, your body is forced to draw fuel from its own en­ergy stores un­til lunchtime. The stress hor­mones that mo­bilise these en­ergy re­serves can have a neg­a­tive im­pact on men­tal per­for­mance, leav­ing you feel­ing ir­ri­ta­ble, tired and un­able to con­cen­trate, due to the lack of glu­cose, which is re­spon­si­ble for fu­elling your brain.”

She re­minds ev­ery­one that what we choose to eat for the first meal of the day mat­ters. “Break­fast should pro­vide key nu­tri­ents, par­tic­u­larly those that may lack in the diet, such as cal­cium, iron, vi­ta­min D, fo­late or fi­bre. Nu­tri­tion­ists rec­om­mend break­fast is com­posed of a ce­real prod­uct (like break­fast ce­real, bread), with dairy (milk, yo­gurt) and a piece of fruit or veg­eta­bles to get the en­ergy and nu­tri­ents you need to start your day.” A good va­ri­ety of food groups is the key. “How­ever busy you are, and how­ever you choose to live your life, it’s worth find­ing a break­fast that suits you, your fam­ily and your life­style.”

EAT WELL: Nu­tri­tion­ist

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