Most of us grew up with breakfast equaling a bowl of cereal with (skim) milk. And a lot of us still feel this way. It’s quick, easy and we like it! Breakfast is a meal shuffled into our mouths in-between checking emails, getting dressed and brushing out teeth. Research shows that obesity and insulin resistance syndrome rates are 50 percent lower in breakfast-eaters compared to those who frequently skip breakfast, so I’m all for eating it, just not the milk-and-cereal way.
So, here are my seven arguments for why I don’t eat cereal:
1) It’s sugar!
Most packaged cereal have a LOT of added sugar. However, the name sugar might not be on the box! It may be disguised on the label as cane juice, barley malt, corn syrup or HFCS, brown rice syrup, agave, fruit juice and any and all of the terms ending with –ose (glucose, maltose etc.).
Take Capn’ Crunch for example, it contains 12g of sugar per serving! That’s the same as 3 teaspoons of sugar (and who eats only one serving anyways?). The sugar is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing the blood sugar to go from low to high, and then back down to low again. It’ll leave you feeling hungry and craving sugar even though you just ate. Not at all a good plan if you want to maintain a healthy weight and a good level of energy throughout the day!
2) It’s not a whole food
It is far from it! Cereals are highly processed, food-like substances (to use one of my favorite Michael Pollan quotes!). The process used to make cereal is called extrusion and it’s a combination of high temperature and high pressure. This processing technique pretty much kills any nutrient that might have been in the grain in the first place. And seriously, if the cereal you’re eating has the ability to turn your milk blue or pink – please put the spoon down. That artificial food coloring is toxic for your body.
These cereal grains are neither whole nor sprouted. In fact, extrusion even alters the proteins in the grains rendering them indigestible. The best way to prepare grains for both improved digestibility and nutrient availability is to soak them. Soaking grains for at least 8 hours in clean water with some apple cider vinegar or lemon juice helps break down and pre-digest the grain. Back in the day people used these slow food preparations when cooking grains, baking Sourdough bread, and making porridge.
4: Genetically Modified
Two of the most genetically modified crops in the US today are corn and wheat, both of which make up the bulk of most cereals!
5: Thinkers need fuel and fats
A study of a group of students found that they had better mental performance after eating breakfast. They also compared sugary ready-to-eat cereal to oatmeal and found oatmeal had a nutritional advantage, improving brain power and encouraging better test scores. Also know that the brain-preferred source of fuel is fat. Feed it right from the start and begin your day with a nutrient dense meal – not a pile of processed sugar!
6: They lie!
I don’t like it when food brands make health claims that aren’t even close to being true: Heart Healthy. A day’s worth of fiber. Really? I’d much rather eat some whole, fresh fruit and vegetables. Beware of brands that tell stories about searching out the finest ingredients or the whole’est of grains, it’s still cereal, it still contains sugar and it’s still a processed food.
7: It’s not green!
Making conscious decisions about what we eat means knowing where our food is coming from, eating local ingredients when possible and food that is as close to it’s natural state as possible.
A box of cereal comes with some serious mileage and heavy baggage. From the industrialized GMO wheat and corn crops to transport, food processing, more transport, storage and more transport. And all that before it even meets you!
And so, I’d like to propose a different way! Here’s what I would recommend for breakfast:
- Soaked oats; let your oats soak in water and a splash of apple cider vinegar over night, rinse and cook.
- Leftover brown rice, millet or quinoa cooked with almond milk and spices for a nice breakfast porridge.
- Muesli, rawnola and granola are certainly better than cereal. The grains are still whole and the nuts and seeds add a healthy dose of essential fats. Muesli usually doesn’t have any added sugar, but granola does, so watch out!
- Pasture raised eggs in any form or way you like.
- Leftovers from dinner! A bowl of soup…Why not?
- A green smoothie with some avocado for healthy fat.
- A protein smoothie; frozen berries, coconut milk, pea protein powder and a hand of spinach.
- Chia seed pudding with berries and coconut oil.