Why is sugary cereal is such a delicious but miserable sham of a breakfast?


Kid, we're with ya.
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Like most Americans, it takes me at least five bowls of cereal to feel anything close to satisfied. And then, despite everything I’ve worked for, I’m still forced to eat some rancid-ass banana to satisfy my residual starvation pangs.

What a miserable sham of a breakfast.

Things were different when we were kids. One serving size of Fruit Loops, combined with at least three insulin-jacking packets of sugar, was enough to keep us going until we could move onto our midday Lunchables. As adults, this simply isn’t enough. Part of that is our changing biochemistry, and part of it is by design. 

Sugary cereals are high-maintenance lovers — they give you a little and leave you begging for more.

Raise your hand if you once identified as a cereal fan and have since been forced to resort to yogurt and granola, or maybe even (gasp!) avocado toast, out of hunger and fear. 

Two years ago, the lamestream media lambasted us millennials for abandoning cereal on the grounds that it took “too much work.” That narrative was sadly grounded in reality. Yes, it does require a lot of labor to pour ourselves a bowl when we’re busy balancing 909 freelance gigs and monetizing our cryptocurrency Snapchat channel on the off chance we can one day afford a five-second appointment with a back alley doctor who can prescribe us aspirin for our bleeding lungs.

“In most popular cereals, one third of the ingredients are a type of sugar.”

There are other reasons for our exodus, though, and at the top of that list has to be customer satisfaction. Nutritionist Chelsey Amer told me that sugary cereals frequently lack the good stuff that leave us feeling satisfied.

“They lack protein and fiber which are two nutrients that keep us satisfied for a longer period of time,” Amer says. “In most popular cereals, one third of the ingredients are a type of sugar.”

And who wouldn’t want more sugar? While Amer cautions that sugary cereal is in no way like an illegal narcotic, both share a similar chemical property — they’re capable of producing happy hormones in the brain.

“Overly processed foods that are high in sugar and salt triggers brain chemicals that drugs can trigger. I’m not equating cereal to drugs!” Amer warns. “But sugar does trigger that dopamine. I would say that there is a danger of eating more than you need to feel full and satisfied.”

Hear that, cereal lovers? It’s okay if your daily bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios leaves you wanting more. It’s normal. You were #BornThisWay.

When you opt to start the day with a very sugary, low-fiber cereal, it often causes your system to crash hours later — leaving you desperate and ordering Chipotle online at 11 am. That crash is amplified when you choose to mix your cereal with skim milk, which is higher in sugar than whole.

No amount of sugary cereal, be it one bowl or five, can make up the deficit.

Sugary cereal is only bad when it’s not balanced with the good stuff you’ve been told to eat your whole damn life. 

Still, not all hope is lost. Amer cautions that it’s also #NotAllCereals. There are plenty of brands out there that have only natural sugar without adding in anything additional. (It’s the added sugars that do the most damage do our bodies.) Amer cites Puffins as a positive exception, though there are countless others in the portion of the cereal aisle I’ve designated as “alternatives I’d love to ignore.”

Sugary cereal is only bad when it’s not balanced with the good stuff you’ve been told to eat your whole damn life. You don’t need to give up your Cocoa Krispies insomuch as eat them in moderation, perhaps as a high-quality afternoon snack. And it’s good to consider healthy, non-banal breakfast alternatives, like breakfast tacos or high-protein muffins

Public health pressure on the cereal industry has improved the outlook for the breakfast staple. “The cereal industry is shifting towards including more whole grains,” Amer says. Take a look at all the ‘whole grains’ advertising in your local cereal aisle. Sure, there may be a lot of processed sugar in there, but at least they’re trying.

Fact: Cereal is less popular than it was twenty years ago. Part of this is because of health concerns, part of it is due to insane prices ($7 for Quaker Life? No thank you, Brooklyn supermarket), and an even smaller portion is because — I’ll admit it — avocado toast is a culinary masterpiece.

As for me, I’m going to embrace my bad, processed sugar-loving self, and just give myself less room to indulge. I’m happy to switch out my daily Lucky Charms for hard shell breakfast tacos (sorry), assuming I can have a handful of my fave fake marshmallows in the afternoon.

We don’t have to say goodbye to Fruity Pebbles entirely. We just can’t have a codependent relationship with them anymore. No matter how badly they treat us, we will always give them a small serving size of our love.

Read more here: http://mashable.com/


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