For many people, breakfast is the meal that can be skipped. Working professionals are almost always in a hurry, and generally a cup of coffee on the run suffices.
But doctors say this is the most important meal of the day, and skipping it can have unhealthy consequences.
“The brain requires fuel to function. Dinner from the previous night provides fuel for about eight to ten hours, but skipping or delaying breakfast can mean your brain has less energy to function, and therefore cognitive thinking will take a hit,” said J.S. Kumar, professor of medicine and diabetology in-charge at SRM Medical College.
For those with diabetes, not having breakfast can lead to fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
“Incretin, the protein that stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin, is food dependant. If you do not eat regular meals, the stimulus is not given,” said Dr. Kumar.
Skipping breakfast can also lead to snacking before lunch or overeating at lunch — and, since lunch nearly always comprises rice, can lead to weight gain.
In a statement ahead of World Diabetes Day on Friday, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director for WHO South-East Asia region, said: “Eating right and undertaking regular physical activity to maintain healthy weight can cut the risk of diabetes or delay its onset. A healthy diet, including the consumption of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, reducing sugar, salt and fat, and sufficient physical activity need to be promoted in schools and at workplaces.”
Regular meals, on time and in moderation, are what doctors recommend. “Idli is the ideal breakfast. It has rice, dal, a little salt and is oil-free. As long as oil or ghee is not used, it makes for a healthy start to the day,” said Dr. Kumar.