Despite the common perception, diabetes is NOT genetic. Actually, the problem with diabetes is one of storage. Too many empty calories combined with too little demand for calories. It is likely that our ancestors had little concerns with diabetes bacause starvation was the norm. If our ancestors’ collective physiology did not experience diabetes, how on Earth could it be genetic? That would be like saying “texting thumb” is genetic, like our ancestors were somehow developing thumb pain from too much cell phone usage.
Clearly our lifestyles are what is contributing the diabetes. Food choices is a major contributor, but so is food / meal frequency. Years past, women in particular seemed to think that skipping meals was a good way to lose weight. Less calories leading to weight loss may sound like a good idea, but the body is much smarter than that. In case you have ever read into the lives and development of a sumo wrestler, one of the key components has to do with skipping breakfast but eating a large meal for lunch followed by a nap. So, if the “sumo” look is what you are going for, then by all means skip breakfast.
For the rest of us, skipping breakfast is out of the question. I hear two reasons why patients don’t eat breakfast. First is time. That’s a simple one to fix because merely keeping a snack bag of raw nuts to bring with you in the car on your way to work can solve this one. There are lots of other options, but this is the easiest fix.
The second reason is that some patients will get nauseous if they eat before some time in the mid morning. This is likely happening because their bodies are looking inside for fuel for the brain. In this case the body releases cortisol to break down muscles in order to create glucose of the brain to use. In a healthy situation, our bodies are used to looking externally for energy to fuel our brain.
This particular study looked at eating patterns that led to diabetes. Skipping breakfast alone increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 21%. This doesn’t even address healthy dietary options (in previous posts, in was pointed out that oatmeal and many high fiber cereals are NOT good options for breakfast).
In addition, eating 3 meals per day had a lower risk of developing diabetes then eating 1-2 meals per day. Snacking did not have much of an impact beyond the contribution to weight gain, which of course, is then reflective of what we choose for our snacks.
Overall, skipping breakfast is not an option in a healthy lifestyle. If you are not eating breakfast, you need to identify why you are skipping what is arguably the most important meal of the day and fix the problem. And while we’re at it, if you kids are leaving for school without eating a good, solid breakfast you can pretty much assume that weight gain, obesity and diabetes is in their future.