Monday, September 13

A Cereal Story

Did you know that some cereals are literally almost half sugar?  With what I’ve learned, I want to write in big red marker “This is 50% sugar” on a post-it and stick on cereal boxes in the store.
People used to eat pork, beef, eggs or sausage for breakfast.  But this was back before cereals even existed.  The late 1800s saw a vegetarian movement (And you thought vegetarians are a little ridiculous now?  You try telling a cowboy he needs to eat more ruffage.), out of which came cereals we have today like Grape Nuts, Wheaties and Kix.  But up until 1937, the three cereals I just named were it.  Could you imagine walking into your grocery store and only finding three cereals to choose from?
In the 1950s, cereal manufacturers discovered a new set of customers: children.  Add sugar, a theme song, cartoon mascot and prize in the box.  Only a few years later and cereal has its own aisle!  It’s incredible the amount of cereal that Americans eat (obesity epidemic anyone?).
Take Froot Loops: if a serving size is 29 grams and there are 12 grams of sugar in that serving, then that means over 40% of each serving is sugar.  If you pour yourself (or your kids) a bowl of cereal, just imagine half of that being straight sugar.  I wouldn’t want to be their school teacher.  Or your boss.  Either way, 10am is going roll around and your blood sugar is going to crash.  You are going to run to Starbucks like you always do, but your kids are stuck in class and hungry until lunch.
Even Life, which is one of the lower sugar breakfast cereals, still has 6 grams of sugar in a serving of 32 grams.  That’s almost 19% sugar, and definitely not enough protein or fiber to keep you going all morning.  Many women eat Special K like it was a magic weight loss cereal, but even Special K is about 13% sugar.  For the same calories as one serving of Special K, I can have one Morning Star Breakfast Sausage and a 4 oz peach—a small fraction of the sugar and I’m good until 11am.
Adding milk to your cereal helps a bit, but most of us don’t add enough milk to make up for the lack of protein or the effects of the overwhelming amount of sugar.  The best solution is to reduce the amount of cereal you’re eating and add protein and heart-healthy fats to your breakfast.  Have a breakfast sausage and a half a cup of cereal.  Or have some greek yogurt and quarter cup of cereal on top.


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