It was the morning of Yoga teacher training. Black coffee in hand, I left home without eating any breakfast. As I drove towards the yoga studio, I sipped my coffee while lost in thought. By the time I arrived, the caffeine had kicked in-giving me a euphoric and false sense of energy.
As someone with a Masters degree in Nutrition Science, I know better than to do this to myself. Seriously. I do. You might too. But, just in case you don’t, let me explain why starting the day off without eating breakfast is a bad idea. Let me also share why running on coffee fumes is even worse.
First lets talk about why breakfast is important.
Your body does a lot. There are thousands of daily miracles it performs- like keeping your heart beating and helping you talk your way out of a speeding ticket. To do all of this, good nutrition is essential. Your mind and body will suffer otherwise.
With respect to the mind, studies show that eating at least 3 balanced meals a day can improve your mood. Science also shows that proper nutrition can influence willpower and help you make more intelligent decisions. Essentially, the worse your diet is the worse your thinking will be. For more information, check out the book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength written by John Tierney and Roy Baumeister.
Not only does your mind suffer when your nutrition is poor, but so does the rest of your body. For starters, if you don’t consume enough protein, your body will start to eat away at your muscles. Muscles have many functions. One of their functions is immunity. Therefore inadequate protein intake makes you more susceptible to disease. Protein also gives you strength to hold your yoga poses!
Now lets throw caffeine in the mix of not eating….
Caffeine causes stress hormones to rise in your body. How fast they rise depends on genetic factors. But, eventually, if you consume enough caffeine your stress hormones can rise to the point where your body is tricked in to thinking there is an emergency-- like being chased by a bear.
To devise a life saving escape plan, your body quickly sends nutrient rich blood to your brain for maximum thinking power. Since your body thinks it is going to die, it takes all reserve nutrition and sends everything it can to your brain and extremities as fast as possible so you can run away.
The problem is that your body only stores a small supply of reserve nutrients and running away from the bear quickly depletes this reserve. So whether you are running away from a bear or drinking too much coffee, you use up your nutrient reserves very fast.
So there I was. It was my first day of yoga teacher training and I was starting the day off without eating. I took another swig of my coffee as I opened the door to Ebb n’ Flow. I walked up the stairs while taking another sip. I eventually sat next to one of my classmates in the common area.
“ Hey! Aren’t you a Nutritionist!?” She said with a smile as she continued to speak. “I’m going to have to get some breakfast ideas from you! What did you have for breakfast this morning?” She said in a gleeful tone.
I smiled back at her while I took the last sip of my coffee. I felt guilty. I felt like I’d personally failed myself as a Dietitian. I was probably also a bit anxious with my thoughts since I had stress hormones surging through me …
My diet used to be so much better! I thought to myself just before I spoke.
“ Honestly, I’ve been terrible with eating lately. I know better. I’m a Dietitian and I should have this fabulous diet, but I’ve been going through a slump and my diet is suffering from it. I didn’t feel like eating this morning. So, I just had a coffee.”
I anxiously awaited a judgmental response.
She nodded her head, grinned and then spoke.
“I know! We all go through it. Sometimes I don’t eat the best either.” She said.
“Yes…. I know. But, I’m supposed to be the role model of eating and I didn’t even eat breakfast this morning!” I said – trying to both shame and make fun of myself simultaneously.
“ Sometimes I don’t either. It’s hard! We are all so busy!” She replied.
As we continued to talk about breakfast / nutrition, I silently wondered to myself why I was eating so poorly. I eventually determined that it was the same reason others eat poorly.
The reason lies within the need for a golden repair or a Life Reboot. (See my previous post, titled Kintsukuroi, for details). The further you are from balance, the worse your diet will be. So, Yogis, I encourage you to think about your personal balance and how your breakfast measures up! Add it to your Life Reboot plan if you want!
Do you eat breakfast?
Do you drink coffee in the morning without eating?
Is your breakfast healthy?
Why / Why not?