My Beef With Breakfast Cereal

A few times in my life, I have converted to a keto diet. If you’re not familiar, a keto diet requires the dieter to eat little or no carbohydrates. This high protein, high fat, low/no carb diet goes by a few different names, but they are all essentially the same.

I like the idea of the keto diet. About 15-20 years ago, I tried a keto diet for the first time and it worked well. I enjoyed most of the foods I was eating, so it wasn’t too hard to stick to the diet. In more recent years, my results haven’t been quite as good, even though I’ve stuck to the diet very closely.

One of my main concerns about a keto diet was not being able to eat pizza or pasta, two of my favorite foods. But surprisingly, that wasn’t the part of the diet I found most difficult. The part of the diet I struggled with most was breakfast. I love bacon and eggs, but I don’t love it every day, and I don’t love cooking every morning. More than any other food, I missed breakfast cereal.

I haven’t been on a keto diet for quite some time, so these days, I’m enjoying eating breakfast cereal again. Earlier in my life, I was a big fan of Lucky Charms (They’re magically delicious) and Fruit Loops. Neither do much for me anymore. At various times I’ve enjoyed Frosted Mini Wheats, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Frosted Flakes. More recently, I’ve tried Reese’s Puffs, Hershey Kisses (the cereal, not the chocolate), and Cookie Crisp. They are all loaded with sugar, and I try my best not to overdo it on any of them.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite cereals was Life (“Hey, Mikey! He likes it!”). But in those halcyon days of my youth, the reason I liked them so much was that I would liberally coat them in refined sugar. The cereal was delicious, as was the sugar-milk that was left in the bowl when the cereal was gone. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

As an adult, I wasn’t going to coat my cereal in sugar, and I was afraid, because of that, I wouldn’t like Life anymore. I was wrong. I love Life cereal, even without the added sugar. It is now my “go to” breakfast food.

But not all is well in the world of breakfast cereals. As an adult, I have gotten into the habit of looking at the side of the cereal box for nutrition information (It’s not as exciting as it sounds). A serving of Life cereal contains 33g of carbohydrates, 8g from sugar. As far as breakfast cereals go, that’s not bad, until you consider how big they say an individual serving is. In an 18 oz box of Life, there are 12 servings. Really? Do you know anyone who only eats 1.5 oz of cereal when they have breakfast? I can get 3.5 (not 12) servings out of an 18 oz box of cereal. Each of my servings come out to about five ounces. Does that seem excessive to you?

Breakfast cereal is not the only food that reduces their serving size to a ridiculous level in order to make their nutrition facts seem more reasonable. Manufacturers do this with several types of food. But for some reason, it bothers me more with breakfast cereal. Most people eat about the same serving size when it comes to cereal. Granted, it may be less than my 5 oz helping, but it’s far more than the manufacturer’s made up 1.5 ounces. As best I can tell, most people eat about 4 oz per serving of cereal. That seems like a reasonable amount, but when you multiply the nutrition info out, the picture becomes pretty bleak.

For instance, a 4 oz serving of Life contains 88g of carbohydrates, 21.34g from sugar. That doesn’t sound so healthy, does it?

I’m not planning on changing my eating habits. Life is better (i.e. healthier) than a lot of cereals. But healthier isn’t the same as healthy. I just wish the cereal manufacturers would be more up front and honest about their product. I’d continue to eat it, and I wouldn’t feel like I’m being lied to. Unhealthy I can deal with, but I will not tolerate being lied to.

Oh, who am I kidding. Lie to me. Just keep the cereal coming.


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