Breakfast, the most important meal of the day, exists all around the world and across several different cultures. Nowhere does the concept of breakfast go unheeded; in fact, every major culture in the world maintains its own traditions. Based on the similarities, all meals begin well before noon after a good night of sleep; and typically, the meal itself may be no larger than an appetizer, to as big as a t-bone steak. Varieties of all sorts exist.
The many different varieties come to serve a multitude of purposes. Good food and good company may be one; the other purpose being a hearty meal to satisfy the stomach before work or school, and to last until lunch. But the importance of a good breakfast, as researchers have guessed, stems from its nutritional value. Critics argue that the energy burned throughout the better part of the day comes largely from the food eaten at breakfast. This may be because of the time it takes for the body to digest and process the food we eat; it may also be because of how our bodies behave immediately after waking. Breakfast derives from the phrase “to break the fast,” that is, to break the fast after a long night of sleep. When we sleep, our bodies go through a rigorous and important detoxification and healing process that burns energy and nutrients. It makes sense that, upon waking, our bodies will be hungrier than usual.
This hunger, or lack thereof, constitutes what many believe to be the importance of breakfast. The unfounded belief that breakfast will stave off excess hunger and calories can be attributed more to common sense than to any valid research. Observation suggests that a balanced breakfast can keep a body satisfied until the next meal time; and in having eaten breakfast, our bodies will less likely be susceptible to hunger pangs. Most important, our bodies require a refuel of energy upon waking, and breakfast helps to meet those demands. The delay of nutrients until, say, lunchtime, can strain the body and mind.
Culturally, breakfast has, in one way or another, turned out to be a meal rich in energy and needed calories. For example, the typical breakfast in Asia contains the following similarities: rice, egg, and noodles—foods loaded with ready-to-burn carbohydrates. Farther west in the regions of India and the Middle East are fattier but less portioned items, such as fried breads served with a condiment of pastes. Quick and easily prepared, but also high in instant energy, these breads comprise yet another similarity of breakfast that all cultures share: its small portion and its ease of preparation. Although not all cultures share this similarity, their deviations can be explained. Usually this has to do with social, economic, or even timely constraints. For example, big breakfasts may be prepared on weekends, with work out of the schedule; or practicality may be substituted for luxury, as indicated by the popularity of breakfasts offered by fast food chains.
The benefits of breakfast, nay, the importance of breakfast, can easily be traced around the globe. While the other meals in the day only serve to sate our hunger, or to aide our bodies in the long run, breakfast, or the lack thereof, has immediate effects.