September 7, 2013 | Posted in Basics, Digestion / Liver, Men's Health, Mind / Mood, Nutrition, Pediatrics, Women's Health

Breakfast like a king (queen), lunch like a prince (princess), supper like a pauper, so says the folk wisdom.

Our standard American eating pattern is the reverse, and we undermine our optimum function as a result.

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A window of opportunity occurs in the morning in our digestive cycle, which is primarily related to liver function.  Adequate protein in the morning (approximately 20-25 grams for adults) is the foundation for stable blood sugar into the afternoon, and evening.

Protein at breakfast stabilizes the blood sugar for the whole day. Protein at lunchtime cannot do the same job; the window of opportunity is past.

Our higher functions are blood sugar dependent:  our mood, judgment, ability to learn, as well as our coordination and endurance.  Cravings increase when blood sugar is not quite stable.

With any mood or energy or craving (weight or addiction) issue, a foundation for treatment is to eat a breakfast like a king or queen, with high quality protein.

Options include:  eggs of any sort, cottage cheese blintzes, smoothies with raw milk yogurt, grilled cheese sandwiches, cheeseburgers, chicken, fish, burritos, chili. Be unconventional. Any protein food is fair game — it doesn’t have to be classic ‘breakfast’ food.

Balance the protein you choose with healthy veggies, fruits, and whole grains.  Many people must be gluten-free, limiting their grain choices.  See Nutrition, and Diet.

Protein and fat are metabolized faster early in the day, so the calories consumed at breakfast are burned more readily than calories consumed later.

It is harder to digest heavy foods late in the day, so it is important NOT to eat a big supper, or it will sit partly digested all night, and interfere with morning appetite.

For adults, it is important NOT to have coffee before food, because coffee kills the appetite, and we need our appetite in the morning.

Ideally we would be awake one and one-half hours in the morning before we leave the house.  This hour-and-a-half gives us time to develop an appetite, have a bowel movement, see what the weather is and dress properly, and cook a meal and eat.

This morning routine respects the vegetative rhythms of our body.  There is nothing outstandingly creative or conscious in the actions listed.  Instead, they care for the physical body — feeding, dressing, hygiene — which is the vegetative (unconscious) foundation for the rest of the day.  We need this humble foundation for the conscious activities of the day ahead, whether one is a school child learning to think and be creative, or an executive analyzing and making decisions.

When the physical body is cared for, the soul and spirit are free to do their best.  We have not short-changed our physiology.  We have put money in our nutritional bank, and go through the day with ease in our physiology.

This is in contrast to the standard coffee-and-bagel breakfast which is physiological chaos.  We must borrow from our organs’ and muscles’ stored calories and nutrients.  At the end of the day we pay back this ‘loan’ with interest, overeating, craving sweets or alcohol, feeling wired-and-tired, and often gaining weight from the bulk of calories consumed late in the day.

An adult may be doing this for him/herself alone, or also for children in this time.  Making breakfast is parents’ responsibility, not childrens’ — no matter how tall or smart the child is, or how busy we are.   Children do not have their full Ego forces  (see Ego, Self, I) until age 21, no matter what they might claim.    This is the homework we parents have — we parents must be real cooks every morning if at all possible.

Breakfast for teens poses a particular challenge, because their sleep and waking cycle is almost always later than the school starting times.  Parental reinforcement can help, showing you take breakfast seriously.  In one instance teenage boys were told they would not get a ride to school (4 blocks) unless they ate the breakfast in front of them. Rather than walk, they ate breakfast,  and got a ride.   It must be recognized that complaining allows teens to obey without losing face, so please don’t require compliance without some grumbling.

No rule can substitute for human judgment.  Older high schoolers need some freedom to vary from house rules and experience how they feel, and learn from their own observations.  Ask them to ‘do the best you can,’ letting them know what you think is important, but that you trust them.  Your instinct and love for them is a valuable guide.

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