Like many people, I grew up eating cereal for breakfast. It seemed like a good, healthy thing to eat (as long as it wasn’t a “real sugar cereal” like Froot Loops or Trix, or the ones with marshmallows in them like Lucky Charms, or Franken Berry and Count Chocula. Those were treats reserved for visits to my grandparents’ house (2-3 weeks a year). But I do remember eating Frosted Flakes and Coco Pops were somehow viewed as the same as corn flakes with chocolate milk.
As an adult, I cut out the sugar cereals, but on the days I ate breakfast at home and didn’t just opt for a cup of coffee, I usually had the so-called healthy cereals – Special K, Corn Flakes…
One of the things I remember clearly from my diabetes diagnosis period is the first conversation I had with a nutritionist at the hospital. Her job was to help me understand eating with diabetes. She asked me what I ate for breakfast and I told her I ate a bowl of corn flakes. She suggested I have a smaller portion and mix it with bran flakes. At that point, I realized no good would come from the consultation and wrote off all nutritionists for a few years. (Since then I have met some excellent nutritionists who’ve helped me.) But the nutritionist at my diagnosis insisted I could continue to eat all the things I’ve been eating, just in tiny portions – an approach I decided to not take.
So for the last eight years my breakfasts, like most of my meals, have changed and our home has become much more food conscious. We try very hard to feed our children healthy, not processed food. We stay away from fast food and try to prepare things at home. (We do order the occasional pizza). The one meal we’ve had a hard time with is breakfast. Our kids want boxed cereals. We tried to switch to healthy granola-type cereals, but after a few days they didn’t really want it. We offered scrambled eggs. We’ve tried oatmeal. But nothing ever lasts once the novelty wears off. So back we go to the “non sugar” cereals.
A few days ago, I read about the study that found kids eating “non sugar cereals” were just as satisfied with their breakfast as those eating sugary cereals. This was no surprise to me since the “non sugar cereals” are still full of sugar (and 100% carb) and the children in the study added sugar to their cereal. They also had fruit and orange juice which means they had plenty of sugar.
The real question is: why cereal? Is it just because it’s easy? Is there something addictive about it? Shouldn’t children be happy with eggs and toast, or bread, ham and cheese with some vegetables (like the Dutch serve – at least in their hotels)? I would get up early to make pancakes or French toast but when I offer it, the kids say “no!”
After I read this article, Jessica and I talked about breakfast again. Can we find a healthy alternative to cereal? Suggestions? Does anyone else have the cereal problem?