Have you ever wondered, like me "What in the world did people eat before boxed breakfast cereals came along?"
It's not a late-night-kinda-thought, it's more of a bewildered reaction every-time I walk down Aisle 2 in Coles or Woolies; a relevant point though because people really struggle to think "outside the box" when it comes to breakfast. I am often asked "What can I eat?" followed hurriedly by "what do YOU eat?”.....
A conundrum! It seems Uncle Toby's, Kellogg’s and Sanitarium have re-wired our nutrition-neurons into a tangle of refined carb’s.
So get this...
Cereal was a concept introduced to Americans in the early 1900's. It might sound crazy (because it kinda is, right?) but during the industrial revolution (IR) we moved away from physical work on farms / land into factories, which was later followed by office work. And it turns out the indoor and sedentary lifestyle caused a major shift in the way our brethren ate food and what kind of foods were available. As a consequence to this environmental change we started to experience symptoms such as indigestion, poorer bowel habits, and other gut-related conditions. So government, lobbyists and scientists of that era developed the 3 MEALS A DAY theory to support the workers. Thus it may be suggested that breakfast was in fact.... invented! And it may be further suggested that 'meals' themselves were a follow-on concept to that movement.
Before the IR we ate what we could produce, grow or bake. We ate when we could, not when we were told. Breakfast was not so much of a rise-and-shine-thing but a simple result of collecting the eggs laid that morning, or munching on the meats dried / cured the night before, after the field had been ploughed. We often we ate standing, not sitting. Often we were hungry, but not starving (more about this below...)
Lets lay this out for a minute. Over the past 100 years we've seen a massive shift in 2 things: Food (availability + convenience) and Technology. Grocery Stores that sold meat, fresh produce and flowers began popping up from 1916 in cities like New York and slowly spread through America and Canada in subsequent decades. Woolworths Ltd. first opened in Sydney in 1924 but from the 1970's onwards fresh produce began to dwarf under the packaged food items filling the shelves. A trend that gained unbelievable momentum in a relatively short time - the new age SUPER-market. I'm guessing the fresh produce section in both Coles and Woolies makes up for less than 1/3 of the entire floor-plan. Food Products are BIG business. They remain an indispensable salve to our busy corporate lives. And technology tells us so - false advertising, celebrity-endorsed marketing and corporate sponsorship rallies against any prevailing common sense. Poor us. Poor biology. Poor planet.
Cereal blends are expertly designed to be tasty, addictive, easy, and convenient but they're mostly just processed sugar-dipped grains - especially wheat. Since their trump-like takeover we've seen a distinct rise in obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes among western populations. Our life-expectancy has increased but we are sicker than ever, fatter than ever, and mental illness is an epidemic. And yeah - cereal is not the only reason BUT health statistics don't seem to support the notion that eating a bowel of sugar-laden carbohydrates is the best food decision you'll make that day. We all know the old adage "breakfast is the MOST important meal of the day" but I say.... all meals are epic opportunities to nourish your body - and WHO actually said that about breakfast anyway?
It appears the slogan was born from the pesky government, lobbyists and scientists of the IR era. It meant the workers were more structured, productive, pliable and that equated to more $$$$$.
Processed carby cereals can often leave adults and children feeling the effects of fatigue, bloating, and poor concentration by adversely effecting their blood sugar levels. I am not advocating that we should all go and toil the land before eating a morsel of beef jerky, or to become a breakfast vigilante. I am merely asking you to consider what works for you?
Are you hungry in the morning?
Yes, then eat a wholesome non-sugar-dipped breakfast that makes you feel good when you digest.
No, then maybe sip on some water or a herbal tea. Snack on some light fresh foods until your appetite builds and eat (see above) when your body tells you that it's hungry.
A note on this: If your body signals to you that it's hungry, and I'm NOT referring to a state of manic hypoglycaemia - LISTEN because your intestinal biochemistry is more likely to support optimal digestion. When the hunger signal has been sent from the gut to the brain, and you respond to that signal with wholesome living food ding-dong-a-long your GUT is smiling, you are smiling and everyone gets on with their exciting lives. This often results in less bloating, reflux, indigestion, constipation, diverticulitis, blood sugar problems, and better nutrient assimilation, energy production and mood.
Here's the thing.
Digestion consumes energy. Each time we swallow our 'grub' we abandon any conscious role in delivering nutrient to the cells of our body. Our 'body' does it all for us. We only need eat. Our participation in the act of digestion is to simply choose, chew and swallow. We are perfectly evolved to hoover without considering the process that comes after. You hearin' me? And with that choice to simply choose, chew, and swallow..... we mucked it up! We chose junk, we got too busy to chew, and the swallowing became part of the instant gratification that modern food consumption is.
Alright, so what do I eat? You can check out my Nourish Breakfast eBook for a personal account of my morning food rituals. It is not exhaustive nor rigid. It's a guide only and you can be as adventurous, or challenging as you feel necessary. You might want to eat more, or less. Or you might want to just eat beef jerky at 11am and fruit loops at 6pm. You only need to be accountable to your vitality and biology......
Melanie Lock | Naturopath @ The Hollow Store, BHSc (Naturopathy), Nutritional Counselling, Herbal Medicine, Herbal Tea Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer, Mother....