This blog was written as a guest post for the Bell Institute for Nutrition and Heath. You can read the original post here.
One of the things I love most about being a registered dietitian is all of the fascinating things I learn about food from my clients and consumers. Whether it’s the personal preference of one person I met to put salt on watermelon or the cultural tradition of the entire nation to eat pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, it is people who give meaning to food. The more insight we have into these acquired and ascribed meanings, the better we will be as nutrition educators.
For example, what comes into your mind when you think of “breakfast foods?” You may imagine the foods you enjoyed eating for breakfast when you were growing up or the ones you now prepare for your own family. Simple, everyday fare may come to mind, such as cereal and milk, or a special family recipe for Stuffed French Toast. Either way, they are all foods that symbolize breakfast for you.
The same is true for each of us. So when we talk about the importance of eating breakfast every day, we must remember that will mean different things to different people. And for some, it may mean a very limited menu of foods they no longer enjoy or have time to prepare.
When people tell me they don’t eat breakfast because they don’t like breakfast foods, I ask them what particular foods they are referring to. No matter what is on their list, I always reassure them they don’t ever have to eat those foods for breakfast or any other time of day if they don’t want to. This helps put them at ease and keep them receptive to whatever I might say next.
That is when I tell them that there are no “official” breakfast foods. What each of us eats in the morning is a matter of taste, time and tradition. In northern Nigeria a typical breakfast consists of fried cakes made from ground beans. A traditional weekend breakfast in Japan may consist of miso soup and steamed white rice topped with a beaten raw egg then wrapped in seaweed and eaten with pickles. The message we want to get across is that there are many ways to make a great breakfast.
By dismantling the idea that only certain foods can be eaten – or must be eaten – at breakfast, we can help consumers who may be skipping this important meal because they don’t like the choices. What they will soon discover is the possibilities are limitless!
Now, tell us – what are some of the breakfast challenges you’ve encountered in your practice?