Good news for children who cannot tolerate breakfast.

I was one of them and still don’t eat it unless I’m on holiday and, therefore, relaxed enough to enjoy a 45-minute low carb high fat repast. At home, I have two cups of coffee and a multivitamin. In both cases, the next meal is dinner, no lunch.

The French news site Obs recently featured a column on the subject by one of their experts, Dr Patrick Tounian, a paediatrician and nutritionist.

He says that if children want to skip breakfast, even on school-days, let them do so. However, give them a small snack they can eat later in the morning.

Above all, he says, parents should

never force a child to eat in the morning.

Over the years he has noticed two types of patient:

  1. Those who are not hungry in the morning and who can last without food until lunchtime. Those types must be left alone. It seems totally unjustified from a nutritional and scientific perspective to force them to eat.
  2. A minority of patients who are not hungry at breakfast time but who have hunger pangs at around 11 a.m. These schoolchildren have the right not to eat in the morning and should not be forced to do so. On the other hand, do make sure they have something in their pocket that they can eat later on which will tide them over until lunch.

For those who do eat breakfast, Tounian says any type of meal will do, according to personal preference:

We need to sweep aside the idea of an ‘ideal’ breakfast: the only good breakfast is the one you want to eat.

Where children and adolescents are concerned, he says that parents should try to follow the ‘four pillars’ of nutrition:

  1. Two portions of meat a day.
  2. Three dairy products a day.
  3. One or two portions of fruit or vegetables a day.
  4. Fish once or twice a week.

This seems sensible advice, even if it does not correspond to current Western medical recommendations. (France’s health ministry currently recommends seven portions of fruits and vegetables a day. Yuck.)

I’ll feature more next week on the myth of breakfast being the most important meal of the day. If you do not see the point of it, you’re not alone!