is that a kit kat bar for breakfast? {the cereal conspiracy}

cereal is confusing.  a complicated twist of corporate trickery, nutritional miseducation & habitual food jags make breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day, one of the trickiest meals of the day.  i used to loath it.  at a time of day when my brain is still asleep & i have four empty stomachs rioting in front of me, making a good choice can be difficult to say the least.  if i haven't pre-thought out or prepared breakfast, i often turn to whatever is easiest.  cereal. toast. and maybe through a little splash of fruit in there.  would i rather my kids start their day with an egg white spinach omelette or breakfast quinoa?  absolutely!  but the reality is that cereal mornings are inevitable.  and in that case i need to be prepared for the sleep-eyed, half asleep decision of what's for breakfast.

the general rule in our house is if it's not a good choice then don't bring it into the house.  which when upheld, has served us quite well.  however, whenever i walk down that booby-trapped cereal aisle i always seem to forget what i was originally there to get & begin looking at the back of cereal boxes, each claiming to be a healthier choice.  when in reality pretty much everything you find in that aisle, with few exceptions, is prime evil.  at least when you're in the junk food aisle you know it.  when comparing the nutrient values of common candy like skittles, kit kat bars, snickers & jelly beans to cereals like raisin bran or oatmeal crisp triple berry the sugar content alone exceeds the chocolate bar. i'm not even talking about cereals like cocoa puffs or fruit loops. i'm talking about cereals that look & claim to be healthy!  candy masquerading as breakfast!  shameful! that's not to mention portion sizes.  at least chocolate bars are pre-portioned for you.  the average cereal consumer pours two to four times the serving size on the back of the box.  yikes!  and you burn it off almost as fast as you ate it.  not a sustainable energy source. when the first thing you put in your stomach is sugar, sugar is what you crave all day long. or so sayeth science.  one bad choice paves the way for more bad choices & it can be hard to turn that ship around once it's sailed. 

truly health conscience cereals are generally very expensive... like $9 a bag expensive.  but it's because you are getting what you are paying for.  in the book the omnivore's dilemma, pollan writes "four cents worth of commodity corn {or some equally cheap grain} is transformed into four dollars worth of processed food".  millions of dollars are spent on engineering highly addictive cereals with no concern for actual nutritional value.  it is a multi-million dollar enterprise & highly secretive business.  what really does go into the making of cereal? i'd way rather do the research & rest easy in my $9 bag of nutrition rather than squander $4 on a bag of crappy candy that sustains me for about fifteen minutes.  it's an investment. i'll admit i still cringe when i get to the till but it's so worth it when i add up the pros & cons.  but how could i not knowing what i know now.

the alternative solution.  get out from underneath the cereal branding conspiracy that says it can't be breakfast if it isn't stamped with general mills or kellogg's on the back.  other than this seemly western twentieth century phenomena, most of the world eats anything for breakfast.  it is a meal just like any other meal. it needs to be made up of the same types of protein, complex carbs & good fats found in chicken, fish & veggies or fruit.  think outside the box.  can't say i've mastered the fish omelette yet but it's worth a try. eating healthy is a commitment.  it takes a lot of preplanning & is extremely inconvenient most of the time but it is so worth it.  give it a chance & you might even end up enjoy it.  in the end it is my responsibility to educate myself & let big food manufacturers know who's in charge of my family's food choices.  this four cents for four dollars deal just isn't working for me!

and so it is with this post that i lay down my long love affair with shreddies & choose to embrace the spinach hemp smoothie. gulp! wish me luck! 

p.s. i did find some reasonable cereals in the health food section of our loblaws like heritage o's for the kids & kashi go lean original for myself {although beware, even the "healthy" cereal aisle can have some seductive little boxes of poison hiding in there too}.  

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