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Are you having the right breakfast?

india Updated: Sep 19, 2013 14:52 IST
right breakfast

What did you eat before you dashed out of your home this morning? Chances are that if you reside in a metro, most of you did not eat anything or at best gulped down a lukewarm glass of milk or swallowed a few spoonful of leftover mutter paneer of last night’s dinner.


If you are the rare exception who consumed fruit, cereal, eggs and milk then you are apparently on the right track but a confirmed three percent minority who consider breakfast as essential. A study conducted in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai by Research Centre, College of Home Science, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai.

The study covered a variety of topics related to breakfast eating habits including key perceptions, attitudes on breakfast and nutritional adequacy of breakfast and day’s diet with respect to macro and micronutrient intakes and was commissioned by Kellogg Foods.

How did our food habits become so deranged? Is it a product of harried urban lives or a consequence of dwindling joint families.

Tanya who works for an NGO says that as a child she remembers her mother making sure that she had a glass of milk and a small vegetable stuffed parantha, idli or upma before she left for school and college, an act that she is constrained to replicate for her children. Mornings are a rush and in between collecting keys, bags, homework, laptops and mobile phones, her husband and kids manage to just collect some fruit and a couple of juice tetrapacks. “I try to make an effort and include some multigrain sandwiches but it all depends on the workload. With the kids growing up they sometime help and we end up with cereal and milk”, Tanya says.

Srikant who works for an IT company is no different. He rushes out of his Sarojini Nagar home that he shares with his parents and makes the long commute to Gurgaon, Reaching office after a strained driving session, he grabs a quick caffeine and sugar fix from the stylish café his employers generously provide. Add another doughnut and he feels ok till about noon when he snacks on a shared burger or pizza before the canteen doles out his lunch.

The situation is no better for those who are very fit and body conscious, says Prashanth who is a certified personal trainer with a client list that includes leading politicians and models in the capital. Besides the fact that most of his clients refuse to touch food before exercising in the morning, a fact that he tries to point out repeatedly, he too sheepishly admits to having no time to eat and survives till noon on a handful of nuts. “Where is the time in between five classes that begin at 5 AM”, he says.

So is the busy harried overworked desperate to make it big young professional who is residing in urban areas undernourished with no time to have a nutritious breakfast. It seems so as the study says. It says most of the consumers across cities perceive ‘breakfast’ as ‘something that is eaten in the mornings’, ‘a light meal’, ‘a meal that gives you energy and keeps you healthy’. But only three percent regard breakfast as essential.

• Breakfast skipping is seen more in Mumbai, followed by Delhi and Kolkata. There is very little skipping in Chennai amongst all 4 cities, the breakfast nutrient profile is the best in Chennai, probably because of the well-defined idli upma combo of breakfast. 79%, 76% and 75% of the subjects in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata respectively are having an inadequate breakfast as against 60% in Chennai.

More adolescent girls (18%) than boys (4%) are skipping breakfast, probably is linked to weight control issues. What is of concern is the fact that the Nutritional inadequacy of the average breakfast meal is not being compensated for through the consumption of a mid-morning meal or through lunch or dinner. 1 in 4 claim to skip breakfast. However among teens, 1 in 3 claim to skip breakfast. ‘No time’ and ‘not hungry’ cited as most common reasons.

A whopping 72% of all subjects are skimping or having a nutritionally inadequate breakfast with women more likely to skip than men.

So what is the solution, “of course greater awareness of body requirements and an approach that allows you to plan at least your first meal is the answer”, says Dr Asha Chugh.

Small portions of sprouts, cereals, yogurt and even a ready to assemble sandwich of cheese and multigrain bread can provide most of the required nutrition for an urban populace. The segment surveyed in the study do consume milk as part of their morning routine and the deficiency can be made up by some correct choices. “A regular breakfast helps regulate sugar levels and leads to a more productive and healthy lifestyle”, she adds.