Why Do We Believe Some Foods Are Breakfast Foods
My buddy Luke Leaman over at Muscle Nerds asked this question today so after putting my 2 cents in i thought i;d expand on this as the topic is a constant tug of war with personal training clients.
As a trainer it really is interesting to see people screw their faces up and say "I could never eat that for breakfast" when you ask them if they would like to eat steak and eggs or rissoles and mushrooms for breakfast
From a young age we have been conditioned by the cereal industry to eat cereal for breakfast. Cereal advertising for kids is like beer commercials for adults. It is some of the largest and most effective on tv. It is some of the most effective marketing in the last 100 years.
( credit goes to the De-beers family and diamond engagement rings for that one. But I digress )
You’ve probably heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
What you may not know is the origin of this ode to breakfast: a 1944 marketing campaign launched by Grape Nuts manufacturer General Foods to sell more cereal.
During the campaign, which marketers named “Eat a Good Breakfast—Do a Better Job”, grocery stores handed out pamphlets that promoted the importance of breakfast while radio advertisements announced that “Nutrition experts say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
Ads like these were key to the rise of cereal, a product invented by men like John Harvey Kellogg, a deeply religious doctor who believed that cereal would both improve Americans’ health and keep them from masturbating and desiring sex.
Ya what mate?
I shit you not look up John Harvey Kellog and you will see he was one of the loudest anti masturbation voices in a young America. He is believed to have invented cornflakes on the belief it would lower mens testosterone and curb their desire to treat their genitals like an amausement park.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Western world worked itself up into a mass hissy fit over the idea of people touching themselves. Judeo-Christian tradition had already been damning masturbation as a misuse of sexuality for ages, but Victorian era prudishness and the Great Awakening and other religious revivals in America created a perfect storm for people to really get obsessed with it.
Big John Kellog was a bit uncomfortable about sex, thinking it "detrimental to physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. He personally abstained from it, and never consummated his marriage (and may have actually spent his honeymoon working on one of his anti-sex books). He and his wife kept separate bedrooms and adopted all of their children"
(Good effort cereal boy)
"Sex with your wife was bad he thought, but masturbation was even worse. “If illicit commerce of the sexes is a heinous sin,” Kellogg wrote, “self-pollution is a crime doubly abominable.” In Plain Facts for Old and Young: Embracing the Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life, Kellogg cataloged 39 different symptoms of a person plagued by masturbation, including general infirmity, defective development, mood swings, fickleness, bashfulness, boldness, bad posture, stiff joints, fondness for spicy foods, acne, palpitations, and epilepsy.
Only half of his message made it into our cereal ads though...."
"Before cereal, in the mid 1800s, the American breakfast ( and so i'm assuming us Australians weren't far behind ) was not all that different from other meals. Middle- and upper-class Americans ate eggs, pastries, and pancakes, but also oysters, boiled chickens, and beef steaks.
Is Breakfast Even Normal
"The Romans believed it was healthier to eat only one meal a day," food historian Caroline Yeldham has said. Many Native Americans, Abigail Carroll writes in The Invention of the American Meal, ate bits of food throughout the day (rather than at set meals) and sometimes fasted for days at a time.
Of medieval Europe, historians alternatingly write that breakfast was only a luxury for the rich, only a necessity for laborers, or mostly skipped. And while many American colonists ate breakfast, they were reputedly harried affairs that took place after hours of morning work"
Intermittent fasting anyone?
THAT BEING SAID - just because we used to be poor and couldn't afford breakfast doesn't mean we shouldn't eat it now.
"For hundreds of years prior to the early 1800s, the English drank beer for breakfast. In fact, beer was known as the breakfast drink. That was because plain water was usually contaminated, and coffee, tea, and hot cocoa were not widely available"
Well that explains a lot about British and Australians and our panache for an ale or 14. I wouldn't bet it's a good idea to continue to have it for breakfast now though seeing we have access to clean water.
Back to America...
"There was already a tradition of certain foods—like bread, ale, cheese, porridges, or leftovers—being cooked or eaten in the morning. Although since chroniclers of history spend little time describing breakfast, tracing the origins of favorite dishes is difficult.
Why are eggs a staple of brunch? Searching for the eggs–breakfast link takes one back at least to early history; Bible scholar John A. Rice describes Mary of Nazareth preparing eggs for a breakfast attended by Jesus. What about pancakes? Paleontologists speculate that humans ate primitive pancakes over 5,000 years ago; more recently, Thomas Jefferson enjoyed crepe-like pancakes.
But once breakfast became fully institutionalized, the American breakfast grew increasingly like dinner. “Americans wanted meat, meat, meat. And potatoes. And cake and pie,” Lowell Dyson writes of food preferences in 19th century America. This mania extended to breakfast, and dishes like beef steaks and roasted chickens joined staples like cornbread, flapjacks, and butter on American breakfast tables.
It was not a recipe for good health. Americans complained chronically of indigestion, which early nutritionists and reformers named dyspepsia. As Abigail Carroll has explained, “Magazines and newspapers [just overflowed] with rhetoric about this dyspeptic condition and what to do about it.” It was the 1800s equivalent of our obesity debate.
Americans needed a simpler, lighter breakfast. What they got was cereal.
The most successful food trends tend to combine science and morality, and the invention of cereal was no exception.
And then there's the power of sugar....
"By the 1940s, Post Cereals fully coated its cereals with sugar. The Kellogg brothers had long argued over adding sugar—Dr. Kellogg believed sugar was a vice in his pure creation, while Will Kellogg thought it was necessary to improve the taste of their “horse-food.” After some hand wringing, the Kellogg Company copied Post and coated corn flakes with sugar.
Still, cereal kept its health food reputation thanks to a constant barrage of advertising. Cereal manufacturers like C.W. Post claimed that cereal cured everything up to malaria and appendicitis. The proclamations on today’s cereal boxes that they are “A good source of Vitamin D!” date back to Americans’ obsession with vitamins in the 1920s.
To appeal to children, cereal companies pioneered the use of cartoon mascots. Characters like Tony the Tiger (Frosted Flakes) and Snap, Crackle, and Pop (Rice Krispies) first appeared in the 1930s"
Kids love sugar. Adults love sugar. We all love sugar.
Cause dopamine spikes are fun....
And here we are. Still hankering for a bowl of cereal because it reminds us of our childhood and it might just keep the realities of adulting at bay if only for a few minutes in the morning...
So What Is the Answer?
Changing peoples behaviours is hard. We've been conditioned to eat sugar coated cereals for breakfast by the ads in between cartoons. And that's cool. I get it. Once I show people how long it takes to get hungry again from an effective breakfast they are more prone to do it.
What is an effective breakfast? IMO - Generally most people respond best to a protein based breakfast with limited carbs. The reason being unless you're going off to plough a field or bend steel by hand in your workshop, you really don't need much high GI, quick energy from cereals and pastries to hunch yourself over a desk and accelerate your back and neck pain.
Plus most people when they have a high carb breakfast are hungry again really quickly. When they eat a protein based breakfast they are not. My beleif is because they have given the body what it needs most. Protein is from the greek word Proteious meaning "of first importance"
But it doesn't need to be a massive high calorie, 4g per kilo of bodyweight protein breakfast either.
Vegans and vego's can still attain a high protein breakfast as well with some intelligent thinking so be calm people!
That being said, I don’t think eating as soon as you get up is necessary for everyone. It’s a personal preference. Making someone eat breakfast who hates eating breakfast can be just another hurdle on their health and fitness journey.
Some people want to eat when they get up and some don't. Daily calories and daily macros goals whether you get them in 6 hours or 18 hours is a personal preference and there is a tonne of emerging evidence around the benefits of intermittent fasting. Especially for overweight people who sit down all day and have poor insulin sensitivity.
What About Your Morning Coffee
Some of your morning coffee's look like diabetes. Getting your morning coffee right by choosing a better option of milk, can change your whole day.
Almond milk is the lowest in calories and contains 74% fat, 13% carbs, 14% protein but high in postcode specific moral superiority.
Soy is moderate calories containing 31% fat, 36% carbs, 33% protein and the most even spread of macro's but according to some a thyroid disruptor, endocrine disruptor and probably going to erode your ability to reverse park a car.
Skim milk is moderate calories and contains 5% fat, 56% carbs, 39% protein but comes from a cow and apparently we shouldn't be sucking on other animals tits.
Likewise with full fat milk which is highest in calories containing 49% fat, 30% carbs, 21% protein but still suffers from the same inter-species nipple juicing.
Do whatever you want with your life choices just know your macros for the day.
Do you get HANGRY? You might need breakfast. Everyone else around you might need you to have breakfast too.
Can you go hours without eating anything and still be calm? Eating breakfast might not be for you. You can probably choose.
Ever gone shopping when hungry and bought things you would never normally buy? Your mood can dictate your behaviour so like most things in nutirtion it's a highly individual situation.
Eating regularly does control peoples moods which influences peoples behaviour. So for some people, eating regularly not only makes life easier for them, but everyone else around them too. 😂😍
Have a great day!