The Importance of Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. During the night as you sleep, your body is effectively fasting; imagine how hungry you’d feel after not eating for eight hours during the day while you’re awake!
The word ‘breakfast’ itself derives from ‘breaking the fast’ and without breakfast your body is running on empty after a long night without food.
To celebrate Breakfast Week we’ve taken a look at breakfast from around the world to see how different cultures do their breakfast meals.
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Nutritionist Breakfast Advice
Nutritionists advise that breakfast:
- Should be eaten within two hours of waking
- Should provide 20-35% of your recommended daily calorie intake
- Ideally should contain at least one of your five fruit and veg a day
- Helps keep you at a healthy weight as it helps reduce cravings for sugary snacks
- Can improve concentration and aid memory retention
- Helps to reduce stress and improve your mood
- Can reduce high blood pressure and threat of heart disease and diabetes
- Aids family communication and bonding
Breakfast in the USA: The IHOP
Nobody else does food quite like the USA – bigger is always better – and pancakes for breakfast? Why not?!
An American breakfast is usually served from 07:30 – 09:00 and contains 700 calories.
Key Components: Pancakes
Optional Extras: Bacon, butter, fruit, chocolate, sauce
Mexico: The Heuvos Ranch
Mexicans eat on a slightly delayed schedule. Breakfast in Mexico is served later than usual from 7-10am, this pushes lunch back and you won’t be eating dinner up around 8-9pm!
Key Components: Heuvas rancheros (tortillas filled with eggs and salsa)
Optional Extras: Sweet breads, tropical fruits, granola, yoghurt.
All of this will take up 500 of your daily calorie count.
The Brazilian: Brazil
Brazilians actually believe that lunch is the most important meal of the day. As a result their breakfasts are usually much lighter, around 200 calories, and lunch is more substantial and filling.
Breakfast in Brazil is commonly referred to as ‘Café da Manhã’ which translates to ‘morning coffee’. This shows how little emphasis the Brazilians put on eating early in the morning.
Key Components: Bread
Optional Extras: Fruits, cheese, cold meats
Brazilian breakfast is served from 06:30 to 08:00.
The Full English: UK & Ireland
So bad but so good? The full English breakfast is greasy, fatty, very filling but delicious. The UK’s favourite breakfast is high in calories – approximately 800 – and is usually consumed from 7:00-9:00.
Key Components: Bacon, sausage, egg, tomato, baked beans, mushrooms, fried bread (or toasted bread)
Optional Extras: Hash-brown, black pudding, haggis, bubble and squeak (fried left over roast dinner)
France: The Pastry
It’s difficult to say when the French eat breakfast because they often decide to skip it and opt for a hearty brunch instead, followed by a later lunch and dinner.
For breakfast the French will have a pastry; very light with a calorie count of 250 and very easy.
Key Components: Croissants, pain au chocolat
Optional Extras: Butter, jam, chocolate spread
Italian Breakfast: The Cornetto
Italians have a strong cappuccino with their breakfast, but will rarely have one lair on the day. For Italians, a cappuccino is strictly a morning thing.
Breakfast in Italy falls in quite a broad time slot of 7-11am and is 250 calories.
Key Components: Coffee, cornetto (a small, croissant-like pastry)
Optional Extras: Cream, jam, Nutella
Germany: The Wurst
The traditional cold meat and cheese German breakfast is starting to die out in favour of a more continental style meal, but traditional family breakfasts are still enjoyed at the weekend.
Key Components: Bread, cheese, sausage, ham, salami
Optional Extras: Marmalade, honey, eggs, strong tea or coffee
A traditional German breakfast is eaten between 07:00-08:00am.
Spain: The Late Start
The Spanish, much like the Mexicans, tend to start the day a little bit later than most other cultures with their breakfast coming at 10-10:30am.
Employers give their employees a break at 10am to have their breakfast. Following this, taking a mid-afternoon nap (a ‘siesta’) means that lunch is often quite late and dinner is pushed back to 8-10pm!
Key Components: Toast, tomato and olive oil (about 250 calories)
Egyptian Breakfast: The Pyramids of Pita
Just like the Spanish, Egyptians regularly have a nap during the day because the temperatures are so hot. This means that meal times are often delayed, but breakfast is still prioritised with bean dishes being a common favourite.
Breakfast in Egypt is served from 07:30-09:00 and will contain around 350 calories.
Key Components: Pita Bread
Optional Extras: Hummus, falafel, vegetables
Japan: The Soup-er Bowl
In Japan people tend to eat many smaller portions of food with their breakfast. The Japanese put great emphasis on getting plenty of variety and lots of fish.
Breakfast is served earlier than what we’ve seen from other countries from around 6:30am to 8:00am.
Key Components: Miso soup, grilled fish, rice, pickles
Optional Extras: Dried Seaweed, fermented soy beans, tea
The Congeegation: China
If you’ve ever wondered what Chinese people eat for breakfast, you’ll be pleased to know that we’ve found that out for you too. Much like the Japanese, breakfast in China is held early in the day at 06:30-07:30.
The Chinese like to get plenty of nourishment and fill up early in the day. In China, people opt for a hearty breakfast, a big lunch but then have a smaller dinner.
The average Chinese person weighs 25% less than Americans and Brits with portions in China not as big as you’d find in America or the UK, with the congeegation giving out 400 calories.
Key Components: Congee – a mild-flavoured rice porridge, baozi – steamed, filled buns, dim sum, noodles, zongzi – stick rice dumplings, wontons. This will vary depending on which region you find yourself in in China.
Indians typically eat four meals in a day; breakfast, lunch, a snack and then dinner which can be at any time from 6-10pm, as far as breakfast is concerned, breakfast in India is served at 06:30-08:00.
A typical Indian breakfast contains around 350 calories and much like in China, the ingredients vary by region.
Key Components: Dosa – a fermented crepe made from rice batter and lentils, sambar – lentil-based vegetable soup, poha – flattened rice with mustard seeds, turmeric, chilli and onions, maggi – instant noodles.
The Down Under: Australia
Australia are known for their love of barbecues and having some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, but what do the Aussies have for breakfast?
It’s a ‘love it or hate it’ ingredient, but breakfast in Australia will often include vegemite, which is a firm favourite topping for toast.
Australian breakfast is pretty simple, toast or cereal served from 07:00-10-00am.
Key Components: Toast, Cereal
Optional Extras: Vegemite
Nice and simple and rather healthy at 300 calories.
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