May be Skipping Breakfast in the Morning Isn’t So Bad

Allison Aubrey wrote . . . .

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? And does eating a morning meal help us maintain a healthy weight?

The breakfast-is-best dogma is based on a blend of cultural tradition and science (and more than a little cereal marketing.)

Some of the earliest evidence goes back to the 1960s, when researchers in Alameda County, Calif., documented residents’ everyday habits. The long-term study linked eating breakfast — along with other lifestyle choices, including a good night’s sleep and regular exercise — to improved health and longevity.

But in recent years, this association has come under more scrutiny. And what’s emerged points to a more complicated conclusion.

For instance, researchers in Canada who studied the habits of about 12,000 adults concluded that “breakfast consumption was not consistently associated with differences in [body mass index] or overweight prevalence.” And a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, when it comes to weight loss, breakfast eaters do no better — or worse — than people who skip the morning meal.

Here’s the deal: Lots of American adults aren’t sitting down to breakfast anymore.

In our informal Twitter poll, almost 1 in 5 respondents said they skip the morning meal entirely, or just drink coffee. Another 25 percent of respondents grab a quick yogurt or energy bar at some point during the morning.

Our results mirror the findings of industry research. The NPD Group finds that Americans are moving away from prescribed mealtimes. The trend is most pronounced among millennials, who, according to NPD, skip twice as many breakfast meals compared with older Americans.

And, increasingly, what millennials are choosing to eat in the morning — when they make time for it — also marks a significant departure in eating habits: They’re often opting for a hot breakfast instead of cereal.

How do we square the “breakfast-is-the-most-important-meal” belief with the shift in our eating habits?

If you sift through the scientific evidence, there doesn’t seem to be anything magical about eating first thing in the morning. Lots of us aren’t hungry until a few hours after we wake up. If you’re a “grab-a-yogurt-at-10 a.m.” person, that’s OK.

And waiting to eat anything until lunchtime might actually work best for some of us. As we’ve reported, some dieters have found success with minifasts.

So, is there a downside to skipping breakfast — or not eating early in the morning? We put the question to David Ludwig, an obesity researcher, nutrition professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, and author of the book Always Hungry?

And his answer, in short, is this: What we eat in the morning may be more important than when we eat it.

“If [your] breakfast is based on highly processed carbohydrates [such as sugary cereals or sweet rolls], it may be as bad [as], or worse than, skipping breakfast,” Ludwig says.

Why? All of those refined carbs and sugars can lead to a spike in blood sugar and insulin. “The high insulin programs the body for fat storage, making it hard to cut back calories,” says Ludwig.

And a breakfast of highly refined carbohydrates may leave you feeling hungrier later in the day.

On the other hand, if you eat a protein-rich breakfast (think eggs), you’re likely to be satisfied longer. “Non-carbohydrate foods, specifically protein and fat, slow down digestion,” says Ludwig.

So, what’s an ideal breakfast? We asked the advice of Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist at Columbia University who studies the links between food and mood.

Ramsey pointed us to eggs, topped with a mix of fresh greens and pumpkin seeds, which are rich in magnesium, thought to play a role in fending off anxiety.

The body of evidence linking high protein to more satiety is growing. For instance, a new study finds that a high-protein breakfast may help people control their appetites and eat less the remainder of the day.

And it seems millennials are ahead of the curve on this advice: NPD Group’s Darren Seifer says young adults are big on protein-rich foods.

They may not eat breakfast every day, but when they do, “we are seeing a greater number of younger consumers consuming eggs in the morning,” he says. And based on NPD’s modeling, this trend is set to accelerate.

In some ways, it seems as if we’re going back to where we were at the turn of the last century, when a farmer-style, cooked breakfast was the norm.

We turned away from this when cereal was marketed as the healthier, more convenient alternative. “Americans really did make this shift … to a lighter, grain-based breakfast,” says Abigail Carroll, author of Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal. Cereal became the go-to option.

Now, habits are shifting once again.

Source: npr

Coping with Active Surveillance Anxiety in Prostate Cancer

Men with prostate cancer who are under close medical surveillance reported significantly greater resilience and less anxiety over time after receiving an intervention of mindfulness meditation, according to a recently published pilot study from Northwestern Medicine.

The anxiety and uncertainty that men who choose active surveillance experience when diagnosed with prostate cancer causes one in four to receive definitive therapies within one to three years, even when there is no sign of tumor progression.

Health psychologist David Victorson, the principal investigator of the study and an associate professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, researches the emotional stress of active surveillance and how mindfulness training helps alleviate the anxiety. He also is a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Mindfulness meditation is a well-known contemplative awareness practice dating back some 2,500 years. It is a form of meditation designed to develop the skill of paying attention to our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience and compassion.

“It’s very understandable that some men will feel concerned with the knowledge that they indeed have prostate cancer but are asked to NOT do anything to remove it,” Victorson said. “For many men this can create a great deal of inner turmoil. This turmoil can build up over time and eventually lead to men seeking surgical intervention when it may not ultimately be necessary.“

Victorson and his Northwestern team now are partnering with other academic medical institutions to conduct a five-year multi-site controlled trial where men and their spouses will be randomized to eight weeks of intensive mindfulness meditation training or an eight-week control group.

“I believe we have an opportunity to investigate and equip men with additional tools above and beyond surgical intervention that can help them manage cancer-related uncertainty intolerance,” Victorson said.

Source: Northwestern University

Tortilla Wrap with Egg and BLT

Ingredients

1 slice chicken bacon, cooked
1 egg
1/4 tsp onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 small low fat flour tortilla
2 tsp low-fat mayonnaise
leaf lettuce
2 Tbsp diced tomato

Method

  1. Cook bacon in non-stick skillet over medium heat, or in microwave, until crisp. Fold in half and set aside.
  2. Wipe skillet clean. Whisk together egg, onion powder, salt and pepper in small bowl. Pour mixture into skillet. Cook, stirring slightly, over medium heat.
  3. As mixture begins to set, gently move spatula across bottom and sides of skillet to form large, soft curds. Cook until eggs are thickened and no visible liquid egg remains but are still moist.
  4. Spread tortilla with mayonnaise. Place lettuce on top, add bacon, egg and tomato. Fold wrap and serve.

Makes 1 serving.

Source: Manitoba Egg Farmers

In Pictures: Home-cooked Breakfasts


Today’s Comic

The Peacock Chef of China

Christipher St. Cavish wrote . . . . .

Liu Hua heats up water in a wok and slides a quarter of a blue peacock in. After a quick poach and then a stir-fry with some aromatics, he chucks the whole thing into a pressure cooker, adds some expensive wild mushrooms and water, and then has an hour to kill while the peacock becomes soup. He’s done this before. Hundreds of times.

Liu Hua has probably cooked more peacocks than anyone in modern history. He takes a quick tally: a dozen or so per month, every month for the past twelve years. He takes one day off a week if no one happens to book a peacock on his seventh day working, but otherwise, there he is, in the kitchen of a tropical restaurant in China’s southern Yunnan Province—a restaurant set inside a nature park where the main attraction is, ahem, live peacocks.

This is the Xishuangbanna Virgin Forest Park, about fifty miles from the borders of Myanmar and Laos, and I’m here to eat peacock soup. Jinghong is the capital of what is officially known as the Xishuangbanna Dai Minority Autonomous Prefecture; an area home to over fifty ethnic minorities. The food, language, and culture draws from China as well as Thailand and Laos. A third of the population is a Chinese ethnic minority known as Dai. The history is murky but the reality is that now domestic tourists come here in flocks to get a dose of Southeast Asia without having to get an extra visa. There are peacock decorations everywhere in town. It’s the unofficial mascot for the city, a revered symbol of the Dai, the main attraction for this pseudo-natural park. But it is only on one menu, as far as I can tell, and that is Liu’s.

The Chinese were not the only ancient civilization to see peacocks as food. The ancient Romans ate peacock, tongues, brain, and all. Taillevent left a terse reference in his fourteenth-century cookbook—“Also like swan; eaten with a little salt”—though never explained how to cook one (or how to cook a swan, for that matter). In post-medieval Europe, the Tudors used to remove the feathers and skin intact, roast the bird and then put it all back together for their banquets. In 1971, the Shah of Iran served roast peacocks to Haile Selassie, Orson Welles, Prince Philip and a cast of government leaders at a bash to celebrate Persian civilization.

In China, peacocks are mentioned in a seventh century medical compendium, noted for stimulating a particular acupuncture meridian for women. But beyond that, I had a hard time finding much mention of them as food. In Dai culture, the peacock is a symbol of good luck, not a food. Of all the chefs, wholesale poultry sellers, taxi drivers, performers from the park, and random people at the outdoor night market I pestered, no one was aware of peacocks being eaten. Even the manager of the restaurant admitted that basically, in this country that supposedly eats everything, there’s no real history of peacock dishes.

The modern history of peacock at the Xishuangbanna Virgin Forest Park begins in 2003. One of the park’s main attractions is the “Flight of the Peacocks”, a seven-times-a-day show in which three hundred trained peacocks fly down from a small hill, over the restaurant’s roof, and onto a patch of grass next to a pond. An employee tosses them some grain as a reward, they peck for a few minutes, tourists take a photo, and the peacocks fly back to their roost. Unremarkable except that peacocks aren’t really built to fly. As the park’s peacock trainers explained to me, this small feat takes a peacock two to three years to learn, and not all of them can do it.

Think of this as a business owner might, and you can see where this is going. On the one hand, the park has about three thousand peacocks at any one moment. Some just couldn’t figure out the flying thing. Others aged out or broke a tail feather. On the other hand, the park also had a restaurant, and it’s not so easy to keep customers spending money after the sun sets and the performances are over, and, hey, it’s not even possible (or clearly legal) to buy peacock meat on the open market, so…

Since the light switched on for the owners of Xishuangbanna Virgin Forest Park, peacock cuisine in China has moved along in fits and starts. In 2002, a Shanghai hotel began offering a peacock banquet and promoting the bird’s health benefits for the new class of white-collar office workers, who “due to their heavy schedules, are vulnerable to becoming constipation sufferers.” In 2003, the forestry bureau officially allowed blue peacocks to be bred for consumption. (Green peacocks are endangered and not used for meat.)

Today there are an estimated 100,000 peacocks raised for meat on forty to fifty farms across the country, according to Xie Hanyong, who was so inspired after seeing the Forest Park’s show that he got into the business himself, and is now part of the loosely organized China Peacock Association. Xie originally just wanted to recreate the flying and performance on his land near Yellow Mountain, in east China, but soon realized the real money was in selling peacocks for food. Demand was outstripping supply and peacock economics are good: a one-year old peacock, the standard order, was going for about $120 at the farm, and older peacocks went for more. With the help of the local government, Xie developed a special peacock incubator and began selling eggs to other breeders. Then the hammer struck. Xi Jinping came to power and all of a sudden, his major and ongoing anti-corruption campaign was a nightmare for expensive restaurants across the country. The restaurants saw a huge drop-off in revenues. Peacock demand fell.

These days, a one-year old peacock sells for between $45 and $75, but Xie has moved on again. At the moment, the money is in the lighter—and thus cheaper—female peacocks (technically known as peahens). A smaller bird makes more sense for chefs. As Xie notes, “Diners don’t usually want lots of peacock. They just want a taste.” He has revived plans for the peacock show, and hopes to open this year.

Back at the restaurant, the chef and I run through some of the kitchen technique of cooking peacock—it’s basically like a dry chicken. The remainder of the peacock he’s used for my soup sits on the stainless steel counter. One leg is missing and the other is noticeably long and lithe, but otherwise it looks like any other plucked bird. We wait for the soup to cook and I head out into the open-air restaurant. There is only one other table under the big wooden pavilion, and I wander around the lush setting of hanging orchids, banana trees, and tropical vines. The bigger tables are set with intricate peacock statuettes.

Eventually, the manager shows up with a large porcelain bowl of soup. I pressed him to see if he had any qualms about serving the main attraction, or turning a good luck charm into just another meal. He was fine with it, of course, justifying it by saying that they weren’t raising peacocks to be killed—he considered that to be some type of line—but that it’s natural, almost noble even, to find another use for the peacocks that could no longer work the show (or were never able to fly in the first place).

After surveying the city the next day, I even came to agree. While reactions varied from “they’re too beautiful to eat” of a vendor at the market who sells poultry for a living to the non-plussed attitude of the Dai chef whose main worry was that the guts might be poisonous (they are not), it didn’t seem to be a great taboo. In fact, it began to seem downright honest to me: a wonderfully practical and Chinese solution to an inevitable problem one might encounter in running one’s own peacock-focused nature reserve (if one was the Yunnan Provincial Government). There hadn’t been a history of eating peacocks, but it’s never too late to start, I suppose.

I spooned some of the thin broth and a few jagged hunks of peacock into my bowl. The skin had high goose bumps and the inside of the bones was a fine lattice, like coral or a sponge. The most worrying part was the color of the soup –a pink-ish brown from the red-capped mushrooms. A dish that involves poultry shouldn’t be pink. The peacocks, just out of sight, screeched as I took a bite. Three times, right on cue. Apart from that, there was no drama. Liu had done his job, moving the peacocks along the circle of life, from performer to soup, and he’d be back to do it the next day and the ones after that. They are magnificent creatures to look at, but eventually their time is up, just like the rest of us. They taste like turkey.

Source: Lucky Peach