Breakfast has always been touted as the most important meal of the day. However, many people skip it altogether or grab something convenient but unhealthy as they scramble through their morning routine.
Taking time for breakfast may feel like a luxury, but research is increasingly backing its value. Starving ourselves all morning after fasting through the night does not set an individual up for healthy choices at lunchtime.
The Importance of Breakfast
A study conducted by researchers at Yale University is adding support to the growing body of information that upholds the value of breakfast. The researchers, led by Robin M. Masheb and Carlos M. Grilo, showed that eating and snacking often, rather than long periods of fasting, may be associated with healthy eating patterns.
The researchers investigated eating patterns, including breakfast consumption, and how these patterns relate to weight and binge eating. The participants were obese individuals with binge eating disorder.
The researchers evaluated the habits of 173 consecutively evaluated men and women with binge eating disorder. The participants were interviewed using self-report measures to determine frequency of meals and snacks eaten, in addition to questions to measure binge eating and eating disorder features.
The analysis revealed that overall, those who consumed more frequent meals and snacks, and particularly those who ate breakfast, weighed less than those with other eating patterns.
The consumption of breakfast was an especially important part of the analysis. Less than half of the participants (43 percent) ate breakfast on a daily basis. However, those who consistently ate three meals per day enjoyed overall better health when it came to eating habits. Those who ate three meals weighed significantly less and had fewer binges than those who did not regularly eat three meals per day.
Implication for Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
The results of the study highlight the importance of implementing meal timing therapy into treatment for binge eating disorder. Patients may not have a clear understanding of the association between frequent meals and snacks and a lower binging rate. When an individual gets too hungry, they may find binging to be an impulse that they cannot resist.
The study’s findings also have implications for parents hoping to help their children establish healthy eating habits. Parents should encourage their children to include time for breakfast each morning as an important step in getting ready for the day. Grabbing a convenience food on the way to the bus stop may lead to habits that don’t promote healthy eating patterns.