Oh, Sugary Cereals!

Growing up, I was completely addicted to sugary cereals.  In fact, this addiction went up until my Junior year of college!  Honey Nut Cherrios, Honey Bunches of Oats, Golden Grahms (do you see a pattern here), Lucky Charms, etc.  You name it, I loved it.  In college, I would limit my unhealthy vegetarian diet to cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Oh man, I was totally HOOKED!

It’s hard to break a sugar habit but its even harder when you think it is actually good for you!  Well, that’s how these cereals market themselves, “Helps Reduce Cholesterol,” “Low Calorie,” “Low Fat,” “Made With Real Fruit.” We see advertisements like this all the time and this sells to adults as we all want to be making better eating choices. But, if you check out the ingredients in a box of cereal you will probably find sugar listed multiple times along with all sorts of chemicals and artificial flavorings.  And then you realize, a cereal is low calorie and low fat because a real ingredient has been switched to an artificial one and chemicals don’t have loads of fat or calories.  And speaking of calories, how often are you able to ONLY have a 3/4 a cup of cereal, which is generally the recommended portion size?  For breakfast, I could probably inhale 3 bowls and still not feel satisfied.  Am I alone here?  And for a cereal with “real fruit,” you may also find a million other ingredients besides the fruit, and you will realize why the “real fruit” is the only healthy selling point.

Yikes!  What a mess this has become!  And for kids it’s even worse!  Kids will see a strong, happy, confident looking young person that they want to be like in an advertisement or a colorful box with funny characters and obviously they want what Tony the Tiger is selling!  Cookies as a cereal!?  Very few kids would shy away from that!  From the NYTimes, “A study by the Rudd Center found that the least healthful cereals were the ones most heavily marketed to children, and that children were exposed to more advertising for highly sweetened cereals than for any other kind of packaged food.”

But as the health food movement is on the rise, parents are starting to pay more attention.  Read here about Kellogs new advertising restrictions!

Clever wording on a food/diet product with exciting, believable spokespeople on tv, continues to be a great success in selling a product.  I mean, listing the actual ingredients on tv or on the front of a cereal box isn’t nearly as sexy or as fun.

Look out for yourself and for your family and when you are at the grocery store, CHECK INGREDIENTS!  Know what you are eating.  Know what your kids are eating.  If you don’t know what an ingredient is, you can assume its probably not good for you.  Check how many times sugar is listed!  You will be blown away.

So, how did I get over my cereal addiction?  I stopped buying it altogether. Sometimes that is the best way to get over an addiction, stop cold turkey.  I started eating more fruit for breakfast, I switched to oatmeal and right now I’m completely addicted to smoothies (made with only real ingredients including fruit, nut butters and coconut water).

Do a breakfast experiment.  Try something new with only 4 or 5 ingredients total. And instead of starting you day off with a sugar attack, try whole foods, making you feel more grounded and whole.

For more breakfast suggestions, email me at emily@loveandkale.com.

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