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Why It’s OK To Skip Breakfast June 22, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, Mindfulness.

3D-CowMom proffered the standard (for then) advice:

* “Drink your milk.”
* “Eat your meat.”
* “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

Turns out that milk and meat aren’t good for us, and not everyone needs breakfast.

The three meal a day concept stems from our largely agrarian past, when families lived and worked on farms.  People who got up and did hours of chores every morning needed breakfast.

Even today, those who live on family farms work long hours. Just ask Cecilia.  Physical labor requires lots of fuel to keep our bodies going.

Most farmers NEED three hearty meals a day.

So do ditch-diggers, linemen, linebackers, street-walkers, and other manual laborers.

Donald-DirectorBut many of us sit on our butts to do our jobs.  We don’t walk to work, school, or to do the shopping.  We don’t haul water for miles or hunt bison on foot.

We are sedentary.

If, like me, the only manual labor you perform in the morn is pressing keys on a computer keyboard, you don’t need to belly up to a big breakfast.

Unless . . . you are HUNGRY.

People are different.  Some people wake up hungry.  Like BFF.  These folks should listen to their tummies and eat breakfast soon after they get up.  If not, tummy rumbles are apt to be distracting . . . to them and to us.

Listening to our bodies is key.  Our bodies know what we need.

If you aren’t hungry first thing in the morning, feel free to ignore mom’s well-meaning advice.  Wait until your body signals that it needs re-fueling before filling your gas tank.

Dollar-BillsIf I had a dollar for every time mom intoned, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” I could afford to eat out for a full year . . . breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

But I’d still skip breakfast.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Eat when hungry.  Sleep when tired.

Related posts:  Breakfast Myths * 7 Reasons You Should NOT Eat Breakfast


1. cecilia - June 22, 2013

Eleven and Two are my refueling hours. And the two oclock one is a fruit smoothie with LOTS of milk . breakfast is two fried eggs on home made toast every day(in a minute) and dinner is salad from my garden and a little protein. I have always said that people eat too much. i do work all day, but i most certainly do not need three big meals a day. I read once that we should only eat a portion the size of our own fist.. Hmm, I hear a pea hen calling.. somethings up!! must dash>> c

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

Have you ever read The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing?

The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living recounts their experiences in vivid detail . . . from building their farmhouse out of stone harvested from the fields to tilling the soil to consuming sustainably grown foods to cutting trees and chopping firewood to stay warm during the long New England winters.

Most days, the couple labored outdoors in the mornings and pursued intellectual interests (reading, writing, and music) inside in the afternoons.

Their philosophy about food mirrors yours ~ “people eat too much.” They enjoyed a very simple vegetarian diet featuring raw salads, fruit, and bread for lunch and hearty soup and stews with bread and fruit for dinner.


2. cecilia - June 22, 2013

oh and thank you for the mention, have a lovely day bashing at the keyboard!!

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

You’re welcome . . . I love sending folks to your blog. I know they will enjoy the visit. 😀

3. Maggie - June 22, 2013

I have a sedentary job, but I still get hungry enough to eat three meals a day. Using your brain burns as much energy as using your muscles… but overall, I guess the number of meals you need depends on your individual body chemistry.

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

Thinking requires energy, but I’m not convinced that a “pencil pusher” burns as many calories as someone out digging ditches or fighting fires.

I used to work at a hardward store. I walked to and from work, lifted 40 pound bags of fertilizer and 80 pound bags of sacrete, and stayed on my feet all day. I burned LOTS more calories than in law school when I sat and “thunk” all day.

Maggie - June 22, 2013

Or… it could just be my ridiculously high metabolism. 🙂

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

It is GREAT to have a ridiculously high metabolism. 😀

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

You inspired me to google it, Maggie:

* According to Popular Science, your brain requires a tenth of a calorie per minute, just to stay alive. Compare this to the energy used by your muscles. Walking burns about four calories a minute. Kickboxing can burn through a whopping ten calories a minute.

Reading and pondering my blog post? That melts a respectable 1.5 calories a minute. Feel the burn (but try the kickboxing).


* Here’s a great chart of comparisons:


4. Jayde-Ashe - June 22, 2013

I am ravenous from the second I get up in the morning, but my partner is the opposite. I’m always nagging him to eat breakfast but upon reading this I may have to stop!
He is very grateful to you 🙂

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

I am delighted to hear that I have helped negotiate a truce in your morning breakfast battle. 😀

Here’s to peaceful easy mornings for both of you.

5. shreejacob - June 22, 2013

Love it and thank you for the heads up! You know what is strange though…whenever I go to bed after a heavy meal I feel hungry when I wake up..and whenever I eat a light dinner..I don’t feel as hungry when I wake up. The other thing is I’ve started on either just having some oats / vegetable + fruit smoothie for breakfast and it helps keep a smile on my face till it’s lunch..sometimes even longer! 😀

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

Maybe that’s because when we eat a B~I~G meal, our tummy expands to accommodate the excess, like an over-inflated balloon. :mrgreen:

Finding what works best for us is key. I’m home most mornings so I wait until my stomach signals me that it’s hungry. Then I eat.

6. katecrimmins - June 22, 2013

Finally….someone who gets me! I have never been a 3 meal a day person and I take guff for it. I love breakfast…for lunch. Eating early in the morning is nauseating to me but my BFF needs to eat by the clock.

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

Yes! Sometimes even the smell of BFF’s toast in the morning is “unappreciated.” I just want a cup of coffee until my tummy wakes up enough to say, “OK . . . feed me.”

Often that happens just in time for lunch.

7. William D'Andrea - June 22, 2013

I can’t skip breakfast, due to a chronic problem with my lower digestive system, of which I will avoid all revolting descriptions. When I get up in the morning, I have to get things moving, and can only do that by having a breakfast of high fiber cereal, prunes and coffee, often with eggs and bacon included. Then by the time I leave the house, I am “Clean and clear and under control.”

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

Keeping our plumbing in good working order is VERY important.

8. JOriginal Muse - June 22, 2013

Good advice! I thought I just made that theory up in my head, but it always made sense to me. It’s right up there with recognizing the difference between hunger pangs and simple appetite cravings. Al my life people wondered why I had to be so unconventional. Well, no wonder! Until I finally learned to listen to my own body, following other people’s advice is what contributed to weight gain and the yo-yo diet cycle. Now, going to have my cup of fresh homemade almond milk latte. That’s what my body wants, and that’s what I’m giving it ~ as soon as I get out of bed…Ahhhh, better…!;-)

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

Here’s how I tell the difference between HUNGER and APPETITE, especially between meals ~ I offer myself an apple, carrots, or celery sticks.

If I’m HUNGRY, they sound great.
If I’m just in the mood to eat . . . they sound boring.

Enjoy your fresh homemade almond milk latte! 😀

9. Grannymar - June 22, 2013

Six pints of milk were delivered to our door every day when I was a child. Six pounds of butter were purchased every week – for eating on bread, potatoes etc, baking fat was separate. I was the only one out of the eight of us, who could not tolerate dairy foods. We were all stick insects like mammy and daddy. We never came away from the table feeling stuffed, but we had plenty to eat. As you say, Nancy, we walked everywhere or ran for a bus. We had household chores to do and when time allowed we ran around playing games or skipping with a rope. Couch potatoes were unheard of, as were computers and I was 17 before we got a television.

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

It’s no wonder we are struggling with obesity . . . meal size has stayed the same (or increased!) while activity levels have taken a nose dive.

Now I’m thinking I should go out and skip rope before lunch. 😀

Grannymar - June 22, 2013

Skipping is great exercise , but do it on soft ground eg: grass. Alas, since I had a hip replaced, skipping is out of bounds for me> 😦

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

My days of jumping up and down on hard unforgiving pavement are over . . .

I do most of my bouncing in the pool during water aerobics ~ much easier on the joints.

10. Tammy - June 22, 2013

I should’ve read this before I just indulged in a wonderful meal! I really didn’t need it but I just loved it.

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

The fact that you loved it speaks volumes . . . I love to eat when I know that I’m going to enjoy every bite. 😀

11. Carl D'Agostino - June 22, 2013

Breakfast has become the 9 pills I must take each morning.

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

Breakfast of Champions, eh?

12. Andra Watkins - June 22, 2013

I must eat breakfast. Midday is the meal I can do without.

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

It’s fascinating to see the different approaches we take to something as simple as breakfast.

If I eat breakfast, I’m “starving” by lunch and would never be able to wait until dinner. If I skip breakfast, I’m generally happy with coffee until lunchtime rolls around.

Except when we are traveling (or planning to do lots of walking in the morning). Then I try to eat breakfast or bring something to nibble on as we are wandering around.

13. colonialist - June 22, 2013

Whether one’s physical exercise consists of energetic stabbing at a keyboard or hefting bricks all day, it still makes sense to get the fuel for that in the morning rather than stoking up with a heavy dinner at night. Yet most of us (including self) do it the wrong way round.

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

According to the Nutrition Diva (Monica Reinagel, M.S., L.D./N.):

“If your total intake over the course of the day is balanced, nutritious, and allows you to maintain a healthy weight, I’m prepared to be flexible about when you eat the first meal of the day.”


It matters more WHAT we eat than WHEN we eat.

14. kateshrewsday - June 22, 2013

Makes sense to me, Nancy. I rushed out this morning without any breakfast and really appreciated my lunch when it finally arrived. It is great to feel hungry when you eat.

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

I don’t like eating unless I’m hungry . . . except for chocolate. I always make room for that. 😉

15. diannegray - June 22, 2013

I never used to eat breakfast until I started sanding the doors at the RUC – now I have breakfast lunch and dinner and get crabby if I don’t eat (LOL – I’ve never been like that before!) 😉

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

Sanding doors + Breakfast = Perfect Together!

When I’m active in the morning, I want something more than coffee ~ even if it’s just a slice of toast with peanut butter.

16. ericjbaker - June 22, 2013

I get up around 7 a.m. but am not usually hungry until 10. Then I’m really hungry. So I force down a bowl of cereal when I get up so I don’t end up eating my shoe a few hours later at work.

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

Good call. Cereal beats shoe leather any day!

When I’m not going to be around the kitchen, I take a snack to eat when hunger hits ~ granola bars, fruit, peanuts, or yogurt.

17. Sandra Bell Kirchman - June 22, 2013

Isn’t it funny how people adore being told what they want to hear. I think this is one of your best blogs yet. Why? Because I hate eating breakfast in the morning. And yes, my mom always intoned, you need to eat your breakfast to start your day right.

That may have been true when I was a youngster and on the go all the time. But not since I reached adulthood. Truth is, I feel somewhat nauseated every morning and the idea of food is not a welcome one. You are finally someone who has come up with reasonable reasons for not eating breakfast. You are my hero! 🙂

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

Yay! And thanks! The first time I stumbled across an article by a nutritionist saying that not everyone needs to belly up to breakfast first thing in the morning, I said, “Huzzah!” . . . and sent a copy to my mother. :mrgreen:

We all “break fast” at some point during the day, but we can tune in and listen to our own bodies as to the best time to do so.

18. bluebee - June 22, 2013

For me, it’s the best meal of the day – I’d rather skip dinner. But, as you say, listen to your body – we are all different.

nrhatch - June 22, 2013

Exactly right! I used to love going out for Brunch . . . so I could eat breakfast foods at 11 am (instead of 7 am). Best of both worlds for me.

19. Tom Merriman - June 23, 2013

I very often don’t eat breakfast, Nancy… sometimes I don’t eat lunch as well. I really enjoy my evening meal on those days, I can tell you!

nrhatch - June 23, 2013

Yes! The folks in the biosphere ( a few years back) cut their calories drastically . . . and excelled in virtually every measure of health ~ cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, BMI, etc..

We eat too much . . . eating if we aren’t hungry is silly.

20. Marilyn Davies - June 23, 2013

Excellent advice! My first time to your blog, I shall return :0)

nrhatch - June 23, 2013

Thanks, Marilyn. I swung by and checked out your blog too . . . and enjoyed my visit.

21. Pix Under the Oaks - June 23, 2013

Good Evening Nancy! I am a three meal a day person. 8, noon and 6. What can I say? Doesn’t have to be a big meal at all but I have to have something in the tummy.. 🙂

nrhatch - June 23, 2013

If you’re hungry in the morning, that’s the signal to eat. 😀

BFF is a 3 meal a day (minimum!) person ~ he likes breakfast, lunch, dinner, AND . . . snacks.

22. sufilight - June 24, 2013

I have a light breakfast: it’s either oatmeal with a little maple and a few walnuts, or a fruit salad with a cottage cheese. We are not a three meal household which an elderly friend of ours has never been able to understand.

nrhatch - June 24, 2013

Good breakfast choices, Marie. I enjoy Oatmeal, especially in the cooler months. I generally do better with 2 meals a day . . . with a late breakfast on special occasions.

23. jannatwrites - June 27, 2013

I eat when I’m hungry (and sometimes snack out of boredom…oops.) We have a friend who is a big man- his theory is, “you don’t eat because you’re hungry, you eat to prevent hunger.” Maybe that’s why he’s large? 😛

nrhatch - June 28, 2013

Ya think? 😛

If I’m snacking on empty calories, it’s not usually hunger that propelled me into the kitchen. Life would be so B~O~R~I~N~G (at times) without the glorious variety of food to break up our days. I am almost never too engrossed in life to eat.

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