For the past 50 to 60 years, we have been convinced that cereal for breakfast is the best way to start your day. Many years ago, before I became a nutritionist, I believed this too as I was starting to gain weight and started to consider what I was actually consuming.
I picked up a box of Kellogg’s ‘Special K’ as I believed the marketing behind the image of the slim, toned gorgeous woman on the front of the box and started to eat this cereal on a daily basis. However my health continued to decline and I started to investigate things further.
The main ingredient in most popular cereals is wheat. If it isn’t wheat, it is a ‘food substance’ containing gluten or another mass produced grain that may be genetically modified such as corn.
As you’re aware, the modified wheat grain causes inflammation in the body, a ‘leaky gut’, as well as impacts your blood sugar levels more than refined sugar. Starting your day with such a ‘food’ is the worst thing you can do as it leads to plummeting energy levels, aches and pains, digestive issues, headaches or migraines and much more.
Wheat and other refined grains are naturally bland in flavour, so refined sugar, honey or dehydrated fruits are added to the cereal to improve the flavour. This results in your blood sugar levels suddenly increasing, causing your energy levels to plummet even further a few hours later. It also causes increased appetite, weight gain, insulin resistance, continuous sugar cravings, gut dysbiosis and hormonal imbalances.
For example, a popular cereal that has a health star rating of 4.5 stars contains 28.2g sugar per 100g, which is over 7 tsp of sugar in a small bowl of cereal. The ‘sugar’ content does not even include the total amount of carbohydrates, which is 62.3g per 100g. Is this how you really want to start your day?
Cereals are left deficient in vitamins and minerals, so food manufacturers add synthetic ‘chemically made’ vitamins and minerals. Many are synthesised from modified wheat or corn, once again causing immune reactions in the body. Of course, individualised nutrients are crucial for some people, however, these nutrients need to be carefully sourced, ensuring they aren’t sourced from wheat, corn or any other genetically modified product and is the least processed we can find.
We would also ensure that the individual is monitored whilst taking the supplement. In short, there is a criteria that needs to be met in order for individual nutrients to be taken safely. In cereals, it is generally the cheapest source of the desired nutrients from various sources. If you would like to know more about where synthetic nutrients come from, you can find out more information here.
Vegetable oils are also typically added to breakfast cereals for various reasons. Vegetable oils, if not organic, are derived from genetically modified seeds and can cause increases in inflammation.
So what can I eat then?
Firstly, it is crucial to listen to your own body and what it needs. For me, a fat and protein based breakfast works perfectly. This includes chemical free bacon and/or eggs with plenty of greens and a serving of cultured vegetables. I often change things up depending on how I feel. Sometimes it is fried liver instead of bacon and eggs, sometimes it is a green juice, or sometimes it is a fat and protein rich smoothie. You may find that when you swap your cereal or high carbohydrate breakfast to a breakfast rich in fats and proteins, your sugar cravings disappear.
Here are some ideas for you that are far more nourishing, satiating and delicious than your typical breakfast cereals:
Of course, real food eating that doesn’t come from a box takes a bit more preparing. However, aren’t you and your body worth it? Would you put cheap fuel in your car and expect it to perform at its optimum? Proper nutrition needs to be your priority so enjoy experimenting with different breakfasts.
The best place for you to start implementing change is your breakfast – you can do it!
Nutritionist & GAPS Practitioner