'Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince, and dinner like a Pauper', 'Breakfast is the most important meal of the day', 'No carbs after 8 o'clock', 'Fast until noon', 'No carbs before Marbs'... the list of attention-grabbing one-liners surrounding our eating habits truly is endless.
From the tried and tested to the latest Instagram hashtag, it can be difficult to keep up with how we 'should' be eating. In fact, you could say, that it's hard to know which side your bread is buttered on...
"Should you start your day with a filling meal or on an empty stomach?"
That was the question posed by Sean O’Rourke to dietician Louise Reynolds, from the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute, this morning. She came into studio hot on the heels of a recent study by Melbourne’s Monash University, which found that the respondents who did not eat breakfast weighed less than those who did.
So, should we throw that porridge in the bin? Not so fast, says Louise.
"I saw the headlines and I thought ‘Oh here we go again’…I kind of take these headlines with a pinch of salt, really because things don’t change that quickly."
Louise warned about the validity of such headline-grabbing findings. Upon looking into the study further, she found that it combined 13 previous projects which had not set out to look at breakfast-eating. Louise took issue with the focus on weight as a marker of a person’s health.
"There’s a lot more to health than just body weight...In terms of maintaining weight and making changes, what seems to work for people is regular eating habits…So, we’re talking here about really what suits you and that comes back to personalised nutrition, which is a relatively new field."
Personalised nutrition takes genetics, habits and personal preferences into account, abandoning the one-diet-fits-all model.
To add to the heartache for those who do eat breakfast, a study this week found that there may be more sugar in our breakfast foods than we imagine. Louise gave the example of a 740 calorie-laden scone.
"If people are going out for a coffee and a scone, that could actually be one-third of your calorie intake for the day."
In a minefield of 740 calories scones and poor concentration, it all gets a bit confusing. Louise’s advice? Don’t force yourself to eat breakfast if it’s not your preference. And if you do eat breakfast, quality is king.
"Carry on as you’re doing…there are plenty of people listening this morning who don’t eat breakfast and are able to maintain good health and a healthy weight."
Listen back to the full discussion on Today with Sean O’Rourke, above.