Why breakfast is important in eating disorder recovery
Breakfast is a super important meal of the day for everyone. It is especially important for someone in eating disorder recovery.
There are many reasons why you need to eat breakfast in your recovery. If you're on the fence about breakfast, you're in the right place.
Why is breakfast important in eating disorder & disordered eating recovery?
There are many reasons why breakfast is so important during eating disorder recovery, but let’s start with these:
1. It tells your body food will be available
When you eat breakfast, it sends signals to your body to let it know that food is now available to be eaten throughout the day. It gives your body a "we're good" signal.
Think about when you restrict food. You can't fully settle, right? That's because your body is constantly on guard.
Eating a breakfast containing carbohydrates refills your glucose supply. This is needed for energy and alertness.
2. Hormone health
There are two important hunger hormones in the body – ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin has many functions, but its main job is to tell your brain whenever you’re feeling hungry.
Leptin tells your body it doesn't need more food, and tells you you're full.
When you don’t eat breakfast, the stomach produces a lot of ghrelin - hence making you hungry. This can mess up your hunger cues throughout the day if it is not suppressed in the morning.
Eating breakfast every morning can help you to restore hunger and your fullness signals (more on this soon).
Along with this, missing breakfast impairs brain function and raises stress hormone levels in the body. Later in the day, it can boost your cravings.
3. Essential nutrients
Eating breakfast allows you to get your daily dose of essential nutrients. Important nutrients like folate, calcium, iron, B vitamins, and fiber are abundant in breakfast foods. A large portion of your daily overall nutrient intake and energy comes from breakfast.
In recovery from your eating disorder - you require as much nutrition as possible. This is especially important during anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.
4. Quality time
Besides all the nutritional facts and importance of breakfast, eating breakfast every morning allows you to have some peaceful time to yourself. This time can be used to take a moment to alleviate some stress you may be feeling, and to have some peace and quiet before starting your day.
Recovery can be a very stressful time for some people, it’s a good idea to try and take a few minutes of your day to yourself to try and relax, and breakfast can be a good time to start doing this.
5. To restore hunger and fullness signals
When you are struggling with an eating disorder, it's common to lose touch with your hunger and fullness signals.
These are important so that your body can signal when it's time to eat, and when to stop eating.
The way to regaining these signals is to eat regularly and eat enough food. This includes eating breakfast, even if you don't have hunger signals.
As you can see, there are lots of different reasons why breakfast is important during eating disorder recovery.
Why you might not be hungry for breakfast
You might not always be hungry for breakfast. This can be for a variety of reasons.
1. Because you’re not eating it
Many people may think that not eating breakfast would actually make you hungrier, but in fact not eating breakfast can make you not want it.
When you eat breakfast every day, you might sometimes find that when you don’t eat it some mornings, it has a big toll on your body and can affect you greatly.
This is ultimately because your body gets used to eating breakfast every morning, so when you don’t eat it your body does not get fueled with the energy breakfast supplies.
If not eating breakfast becomes a regular thing, your body will get used to not getting this energy kick and therefore you will not crave or want to eat your breakfast in the mornings.
2. High cortisol levels
The main stress hormone, cortisol, raises blood sugar levels (glucose), improves how well your brain uses it, and is used to repair cells.
When you have high cortisol levels, it can suppress your appetite, making you not want to eat breakfast in the morning.
Since cortisol is a stress hormone, when people are anxious and cortisol levels rise it can cause them to lose their appetite. Recovery is a very stressful and anxious time for many people, so this could be a reason why you don’t want to get breakfast in the morning.
3. You don’t enjoy breakfast foods
A big part of eating in recovery is eating foods that you like and actually enjoy eating. If you’re someone who doesn’t particularly like breakfast foods, this can put you off eating breakfast in the mornings.
It’s a good idea to play around with different breakfast foods and recipes until you find ones you like and will enjoy eating in the morning. This will encourage you to eat breakfast more often.
Also, try not to stick to the same breakfast every day. Although this may work great for some people, a lot of the time people get bored when they are eating the same thing every day, and this may also put you off your breakfast even more.
How to eat breakfast even if you’re not hungry
1. Have a snack or small meal first
If you’re not feeling hungry for breakfast first thing in the morning, a good idea is to have a small snack first.
When you eat a snack or something small before a meal, it allows the hunger hormones to kick in and they prepare your digestion system for a large meal, making you hungrier.
Your body is unaware that you are just having a small snack and instead it thinks you’re going to continue to eat. Your digestive system reacts as if a big meal is on the way, which causes your blood sugar to drop and your hunger to soar.
So, having a small snack before breakfast in the morning may be a helpful way to make you hungry for it.
It’s a good idea to try and build this up overtime so that eventually you are having a full breakfast in the morning.
2. Have a liquid breakfast
When you’re not feeling hungry, the thoughts of food or big meals may throw you off. Having a liquid breakfast can help with this and may make the thoughts of having breakfast a bit easier.
You should try to include the 5 important food groups in your breakfast: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, calcium and fiber.
3. Start small and build over time
It can take a while to get in the breakfast swing.
We recommend having a full meal - including starchy carbohydrates, protein, fats, and perhaps a calcium source. If that's not achievable right now, start off smaller.
But the key is working up to eating more. This might be over the course of a few weeks or months.
We hope you now understand why breakfast is important in eating discovery.
Ease Nutrition Therapy x