Stephen Jardine: It's official: breakfast is good for your health
As the great AA Gill put it so well in his book on the subject: “Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life.”
There is something special about breaking your fast. In the prosperous western world, we are never far away from a bar of chocolate or a bag of crisps during the day so hunger pangs hardly trouble us. Nowadays it must be rare for us to go more than four hours without a biscuit or a tangerine. Breakast is different.
Many people will go 12 hours between their last meal of one day and their first of the next. That gives the body plenty of time to develop a proper appetite. So what to eat?
Luckily Scots are very good at breakfast. From porridge to soft morning rolls, kippers to the full fry up with extra tattie scones, we tuck in.
Spare a thought for those poor continentals. I remember encountering my first European breakfast aged 10. The idea of eating cheese and ham for breakfast remains as baffling to me today as it did back then.
Most of us are creatures of habit. Unlike almost every other meal, what we eat at breakfast varies very little from day to day or even year to year.
The comfort provided by a certain cereal in childhood still delivers a reassuring start to the day later in life so most of us stick to what we know and like. It’s also been seen as our most solitary meal. Many of us eat breakfast alone and even the most sociable person can find the idea of sharing this time with anyone else to be a step too far.
However all that is changing. The research group NPD says more and more of us are now altering our breakfast habits and increasingly eating out of the home. Spending on lunch may be stagnant but on breakfast it has risen by 30 per cent in recent years.
From granola and porridge in Pret a Manger to bacon naan rolls in Dishoom Indian café, our reserved approach to breakfast at home is being broken down. Even if we only have time for a slice of toast from Monday to Friday, most of enjoy pushing the boat out at weekends.But the greatest treat of all is a proper breakfast when someone else is cooking. We may be hungry first thing but the idea of slaving away at home over Eggs Benedict is too much for many people. Breakfast dishes aren’t complicated but they require skilled timing and, crucially, being organised enough to have all the ingredients.
From a Premier Inn to somewhere five-star and fancy, the joy of breakfast is never greater than when someone else has cooked it and will be scrubbing the grill pan afterwards.
If you need further convincing, new research this week suggests that those who eat breakfast are less likely to have high cholesterol and blood pressure, while those who skip breakfast and instead snack throughout the day are more likely to be obese, have poor nutrition, or be diagnosed with diabetes.
The choice is yours but this weekend make time for porridge or scrambled eggs or a bacon roll or even a lovely fresh fruit salad. Breakfast is delicious and good for you - that’s doctor’s orders.