BANGALORE : Riya, a teen, has developed low blood sugar and faces acidity problems. She loses consciousness many times and feels lethargic. Her doctor says that skipping breakfast and meals along with fad diets has caused this.
Breakfast provides the body and brain with fuel after an overnight fast. Without breakfast one is actually running on an empty stomach, almost like trying to start the car without any petrol.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for both adults and children. So, even if one is pressed for time in the mornings, make sure that a nutritious breakfast is consumed before starting the day’s routine.
National Health Service (NHS) states, "Eating breakfast has long term health benefits. It can reduce obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes."
Reddy Jyothsna, chief clinical nutritionist at Sakra World Hospitals says, "A person can enhance his/her mental alertness, physical stamina and learning throughout the day by eating a healthy breakfast. Breakfast plays a vital role in enhancing the child's physical and mental performance, as well as his ability to learn. The reason for this is that breakfast provides a major source of energy for the brain. Many studies have shown that children who regularly eat breakfast have better mental performance than children who don't."
Meanwhile some people eat a regular breakfast but tend to skip lunch and dinner. "People skip lunch and dinner to lose weight. Breakfast or meal skippers tend to eat more food than usual at the next meal, or nibble on high calorie snacks to stave off hunger. It is always recommended not to feast or fast for weight or health maintenance,” she adds.
Oily food and sweets
Mid morning is the right time to consume sweets or oily food in moderation or once in a while if the person is healthy. Doctors recommend eating grilled or baked chicken three to four times a week and fish two to three times a week to control the fat and cholesterol levels in the body. The cooking method should not be deep or shallow frying. Regular meals filled with proteins, nutrients and vitamins will not work if not accompanied by water.
Dr Suresh of Apollo Clinic says, "Liquid is very essential as it is the basic need of the body and metabolism. Liquid (water especially) directly impacts the kidney and functioning of all organs in the body."
Apart from regular fluid inclusions, consumption of about three litres of water is recommended. Two or three cups of green or herbal tea a day are also encouraged. Both fresh fruit or canned or tetra packed, colas or alcoholic beverages are discouraged though, he said.
Those with diabetes
With a proper diet, exercise and knowledge, diabetes can be controlled and diabetic patients too can live a healthy and happy life.
Dr Suresh says, "Diabetic patients need to go to a dietician. Patients need to ensure they consume meals that are high in protein, less in carbohydrates and sugar. They need to also limit the fruits they eat. Papaya is recommended. Nutrients and quantities vary with specific cases. Salads are also an excellent choice."
Dealing with children
Parents complain about moody eaters. Children never want to have their breakfast. Doctors recommend for them complex carbohydrates, such as whole-wheat breakfast cereals, millets and breads, as they are absorbed by the body slowly. If these are accompanied by pulses/ milk/ lean meats for protein and fruit/ vegetables for vitamins and minerals, then the breakfast is nutritious.
As per the Recommended Dietary Allowances for Indians given by National Institute of Nutrition, under the aegis of ICMR, growing children require a lot of energy.
For example boys aged 10-12 years should consume approximately 2,190 kcals per day, and girls aged 10-12 years should consume approximately 2,000 kcals. For adults, men require approximately 2,300 kcals and women approximately 1,900 kcals per day.
The serving sizes of food groups depend on the physical activity of a person; his/ her body composition, body mass index or metabolic or disease status. To be simple and precise on quantities, the golden rule is "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a slave,"
Lunch and dinner
Children: Home cooked food that has less oil is always the best. Children need to consume lots of vegetables, rice, fish and chicken in their meals.
Adults: Fruits, egg white, cereals, dried fruits are suitable for adults. They needs to consume omega fatty acids and proteins as this helps the heart to be healthy. Adults must avoid a lot of oily food and eat a lot of vegetables, cereals, chicken and fish.
Senior citizens: Food needs to be easily digestible. They can have the same food consumed by a young adult excluding dried fruits as long as they are fit and do not have any health issues.