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Stephen Jardine: It’s downhill all the way after breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and the best, reckons Stephen Jardine

Published: July 8, 2017

What would be your Death Row meal?

It would be tempting to opt for a giant T-bone steak to drag out the proceedings.

Or a huge pile of chips and cheese on the basis that health and nutrition is likely to be the least of your worries when the executioner is waiting.

But your final meal should be about more than just the food and that is why I’d choose breakfast every single time.

When people say they don’t eat breakfast my first reaction is to pity them for what they are missing. Then there is the dawning realisation that means all the more for me. Lunch and dinner are disposable but breakfast is the best meal of the day.

For a start, it marks the start of another day of eating, drinking, breathing and living. As the brilliant AA Gill said: “Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life”.

It also offers reassurance. In a world where the latest food trend is just a tweet away, breakfast offers continuity amidst all the uncertainty.

It is the one meal which hardly ever changes.

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Not many toddlers maintain their love of alphabet spaghetti into middle age. However, the way we like our toast starts in childhood and lasts a lifetime.

From the homemade jam your granny made to the way your dad crisped the bacon that little bit too much, breakfast habits last a lifetime and provide a thread down the years.

Then there are the scientific arguments. Opinions vary on what and how much you should be eating at breakfast time but most scientists agree we should definitely be eating.

Research from the University of Texas concluded: “Of the three basic meals, breakfast is by far the most important because it influences practically every dimension of our being during the course of the day, including how we perform physically and mentally”.

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NHS advice supports this saying “eating breakfast has long-term health benefits. It can reduce obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes”.

To get the full benefit, nutritionists say we should be eating within two hours of getting out of bed and we should aim for breakfast to make up around 25 per cent of our daily calorie intake.

But how we eat is evolving. Cereal sales were down £78 million last year as consumers switched to portable cereal bars and to grabbing breakfast on the go.

A generation ago, breakfast was a meal we all ate around the kitchen table. Now about 13 per cent of breakfasts are consumed in coffee shops or from convenience stores.

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Pressed for time at the start of the day, we opt for what we know and what takes moments to prepare. So toast and tea or a croissant and coffee take care of breakfast for many people most of the time.

Last week in London, I had my best ever breakfast.

The place was packed and the staff knew exactly what they were doing. The tea came in a silver pot with a strainer, the eggs were perfectly poached, the marmalade had just the right amount of peel in it and the toast was made with great bread.

It was a brilliant meal to start the day and a quarter of the price of dinner the night before. Another reason to love breakfast.


Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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