Saturday morning cartoons. That was always their favorite time to get ‘cha.
I remember getting up early every Saturday to watch all of my favorite cartoons. Of course, with the promise of a captive young audience came the commercials, all featuring bright colors and kids my age being puppeteered around by some marketing execs in a high rise somewhere. I regarded with jealous curiosity the depictions of sugary, colorful cereals with their whimsical mascots and happy-looking animated kids who were surely enjoying a tastier breakfast than my morning eggs and fruit.
Still, even as a ten-year-old kid, I knew that the marshmallowy, chocolaty, puzzlingly blue globs of (General Mills certified whole) grain were in no way part of any “balanced breakfast.”
Does anyone else remember when General Mills stopped trying?
And yet, the commercials starred bright young Frosted Mini Wheats-fueled test-takers, Frosted Flakes-enhanced soccer stars, and Cheerios-sporting youngsters educating their parents on heart health. The commercials all shared a common final shot, a picturesque tabletop on some outdoor patio or posh dining room set with a hearty bowl of the cereal in question flanked by fruits, toast, and a cool glass of milk.
“Part of this complete breakfast!” The announcer would cheerily proclaim.
Part of this balanced breakfast
It isn’t hard to dissect the announcer’s proclamation and deduce that “part of this complete breakfast” doesn’t necessarily hint at the healthiness of the cereal itself. As the hilarious TV Tropes points out, you could just as well skip the cereal, eat the foods on the table surrounding it, and likely be better off.
What’s so bad about breakfast cereal?
This is where that nutrition label-reading skill comes in handy. Take Kellogg’s Fruit (sorry, “Froot”) Loops for example: the ingredients list names sugar as the first ingredient. The list of ingredients is listed from highest concentration to lowest, meaning that Fruit Loops contain more sugar than any other single ingredient, including the whole grains usually advertised on the front of the box.
Why is morning sugar so bad?
Froot Loops contain 13 grams of sugar in one cup (about 3.5 tablespoons), which is a full half of the added sugars the American Heart Association recommends the average woman ingest in a day (men can stand to have a little more).
Added sugars are a great way to crash. Yes, sugar crashes are real, and they can have the opposite effect as a healthy breakfast, which is to make you feel tired, anxious, and distracted.
Before you ditch that banana, fruits and milk do contain sugar, but also have much more to offer than enriched cereals have, including natural vitamins and fiber.
What are the real components of a balanced breakfast?
Most websites can provide a list of recipe ideas, but there are a few staples you should keep in your breakfast arsenal: eggs, oats, and yogurt. Proteins, complex carbohydrates, and fats keep you energized and full until your next meal!
So next time this…
…thing approaches you about buying some Honey Comb cereal, think twice!
But really, Honey Comb… what was this?