Miso soup saved my life
I just ate fish for breakfast. It didn’t bother me at all.
Breakfast has always been a hard thing for me to stomach. Not kidding, and not a pun. I remember days when I would just struggle to eat anything in the morning, because I would either feel like throwing up, or be writhing on the floor in pain. When I was younger, Weet-Bix was easy, two pieces with milk, strawberries if I was lucky. To this day, I still struggle to eat more than two. You’ll find people grinning about how they can eat six, ten, twelve, fourteen.
When I found out I had a high cholesterol at ten years old, I stopped drinking full cream milk, and moved to soy. I dare say I’ve probably developed an intolerance to lactose because of it. I started drinking milk more regularly this year, when I began eating breakfast at work, but my body hated it.
“What is ‘carbs’?”
At some point in my primary school years I moved onto bread. I liked toast a lot better than regular bread. But every time I ate it, made me want to throw up. It felt like too much for my body to actually be able to digest. After some time I ditched white bread and went for wholemeal, wholegrain, and other types. I tried rice for a while, but eventually, it was apparent that nothing that starchy was working well for me. I gave up, and to this day, I still very much dislike bread.
There was a period of time I ate fruit for breakfast. A banana was alright most days, until I realised bananas made me constipated. I usually grabbed a peach or an apple and ate it before, or on my way, to school. In 2004, when I was about fourteen, I went through a phase where I would eat about eight apples a day. It was ludicrous. Everyone said they never saw me without an apple; I would eat throughout my English class; science teachers told me I couldn’t have an apple on my desk, much less eat it. There were a few things that sparked my obsession, and it was not “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but I will write about that another day.
After eating a handful of grapes one morning and feeling completely terrible, I decided that fruit wasn’t for me. The sweetness of most fruit isn’t something I can handle first thing in the morning. I’m not sure how I managed it for the better part of a year.
It’s all downhill from here…
During winter I could make do with vegetable soup. Sometimes instant coffee, even though that was not the best. It was during a stressful, busy time during my first years of university where breakfast wasn’t even something I took seriously.
Before I took antidepressants in 2011, I recall what I ate for breakfast and it almost disgusts me. Of course, this also came from a time when I used to eat meat from land animals. I went to McDonald’s every morning and I bought their famous bacon and egg McMuffin. I got to university just after 7:30am and on the way, before sitting down on a couch or at a desk to do some work (or just do nothing on the internet…), I would stop by McDonald’s and get one. Maybe fries, if I felt like it. Maybe an apple pie. In hindsight, and from my own point of view, I can’t even fathom how I ate that for breakfast.
It took a toll on me at some point, I’m sure. Also, my clothes from that “era” are a too big for me now…
Revisiting an old, horizon-broadening friend
I think I know, however, what the dealbreaker was. I had started studying Japanese in high school, and when asked to choose between Japanese or French, I reluctantly chose Japanese. I’ll admit there was a bit of peer pressure involved. I was awful at it, and it didn’t make sense to anyone that I chose to continue studying Japanese over getting 100% in French for a whole year, as well as topping the entire year group.
But it was studying the Japanese language and culture that warmed me up to their cuisine. I was enthralled, amazed, curious and just blown away, all at the same time. I remember drinking miso soup for the first time, in my first time at a Japanese restaurant, eating a bento box. I don’t even think I remember much about the box itself, just that I had trouble finishing it because, by golly, it was huge, and larger than any meal portion I had ever dealt with. But when I drank the soup, I remember thinking it was honestly, seriously, the best thing I had ever tasted.
After the McDonald’s-for-breakfast era, I drank simple, plain miso soup almost every day, for breakfast, for over three years.
It felt great, and just a little cup of miso would do me until lunch most days. Sometimes I would have seaweed as well. I think ultimately, I realised that something slightly salty was a lot friendlier to my stomach than anything else.
The universal reaction to “I just skip breakfast”
I started eating oats and cereal recently, but after some time my body sort of rejected it. I’ll admit that I haven’t eaten “breakfast” for a while now. I find it extremely hard to eat something first thing in the morning, and I’ll just go to work, get started, and not eat until lunchtime, or at least 11am, and I’ll live on tea for most of the morning. I mean, breakfast is breaking fast – right? So if you skip breakfast, technically you’re just having breakfast at lunchtime. I’ve had people tell me off for it, but after years of arguing and fighting with – eventually getting to understand – my body, I find what works the best for it.
This was a hard thing for me to come to terms with writing about, because over the years I have had people try to tell me what to eat and how to do other things regarding my health. Every person is different and every person has different reactions. I’ve had many suggestions about what to eat, and never shot them down, but in most cases – well – I had already tried.
I sometimes wish I had a proper excuse, but for now, I’m just going to say: breakfast is relative.