I wish I could remember the first time I watched “The Wizard of Oz”. I was probably six or seven, and so many scenes in the movie would’ve been magical at that age. Black-and-white turning to brilliant color as Dorothy opens the door post-tornado. Glinda the Good Witch descending in a giant soap bubble. The Emerald City gleaming green beyond endless poppies. But one scene disappoints at any age: when (The Great and Powerful) Oz is exposed as a mere mortal (“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”) It’s the same disappointment I have with Mehmet Oz right now.
If you know Oprah Winfrey you probably know Dr. Oz. A cardiothoracic surgeon and Columbia University professor, Oz added “television personality” to his resume when he appeared on Oprah’s show more than sixty times. Later he launched the daily “Dr. Oz Show”, addressing medical issues and personal health in front of a studio audience. He also authored the best-selling YOU: On A Diet series of books.
I’ve listened to Dr. Oz a handful of times and his medicine seems credible enough, especially with his attention to homeopathy and alternatives. But earlier this year he made a statement I simply couldn’t digest. Oz said (and I quote): “Breakfast should be banned”. WOOF. To me and a whole lot of other aficionados, that’s a truly harsh statement.
I’ve written about breakfast before, and my unabashed affection for its foods (ex. see Dream Puffs and The Meal of Champions). For me, “it’s the most important meal of the day”. However, those in the know – Dr. Oz included – say I’m victim to a powerful long-ago marketing campaign. In the 1940’s General Foods decreed breakfast as “most important” based on the claims of anonymous nutritionists, when in fact GF simply wanted to sell more of its breakfast cereal. Seventy years later many of us still buy into the idea of most important. We just don’t have the data to back it up.
Now, let’s clarify a couple of points here, especially for those of you who are take-it-or-leave-it about the morning meal. First, breakfast on my table is usually healthy and/or whole-food. I like steel-cut oats with fruit, soft-boiled eggs with pepper, and yogurt with granola. I adore traditional unhealthy breakfast champs like pancakes and waffles, omelets with the works, and bacon/ham/sausage, but those are for occasional Sundays after church or special occasions with family. My weekday breakfasts are simple and small, designed as much to fuel as to fill.
Second, I have to cut Dr. Oz a little slack with his breakfast ban. To add context, Oz goes on to say, “instead of eating breakfast first thing every morning, eat your first meal of the day when you are really hungry”. In other words, Oz isn’t attacking breakfast so much as the timing of breakfast. Have breakfast for lunch, for all he cares. In fact Oz says, “Have brunch every day of the week!”
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a popular approach to diet these days, where meals are timed to create periods of fasting and non-fasting. If you subscribe to IF it’s difficult to have an early-morning breakfast, else you’ll have dinner for lunch and nothing for the remainder of the day. I like the concept of IF; I just don’t have the discipline (nor the inclination). Morning breakfast works best for me – every day at the same time. I look forward to the foods and I like the fact I’m fueling my mind and body before putting either through its paces. But you may be different. You may wake up and not be hungry. You may venture several hours into the day before even thinking about food. Your travel mug of coffee may be “breakfast” all by itself. Different strokes for different folks.
Even if the entire camp isn’t eating breakfast first thing in the morning (or at all), I must stand fast on this: Breakfast is a morning meal. 4am, 7am, 11am – I don’t care, as long as it’s before noon. None of this “breakfast for dinner” nonsense. Wait, let me grant one exception: Sunday brunch (where I never partake of the “lunch” items). Otherwise, I think even Dr. Oz would agree with the old adage, “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper”. If we could all learn to eat like that, we’d be “great and powerful” every waking hour of the day.