Ever since I was young, I can remember people telling me that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Eating a well balanced breakfast first thing in the morning provides you with the energy and nutrients you need to jump-start your day. A healthy breakfast on a consistent basis has also been linked to successful weight control, brain function and improvement in overall wellness.
Seems like a good deal, right? Well then why does America continue to botch breakfast?!
I recently discovered that the most popular breakfast food eaten in America is cereal (1).
Cereal? Really? C’mon guys. We are better than that!
After finding out that our country is full of cereal killers, I decided to take a look at what the most popular breakfast cereal is. To no surprise, the most popular cereal in the country is Honey Nut Cheerios (2). There are currently twelve variations of Cheerios on the market and the Honey Nut variation alone makes up 12.5% of all cereal purchased in the US.
I don’t really recommend eating any type of cereal, or grain, but I really have to wonder WHY CHEERIOS?
The answer: General Mills does a phenomenal job of marketing their Cheerios brand as a healthy food. I can’t be mad at that. Every company dreams of having market control with their products like Cheerios / General Mills has. I hope that one day 1 & Only Fitness has similar success. The only difference is, we’ll be promoting truly healthy products and services.
If you go to the official Honey Nut Cheerios website you’ll see that the website promotes the “numerous health benefits.” Below is a screenshot of their spin on this product.
As you can see, they definitely image this cereal as a health food. Even the box is plastered with buzz words like whole grains, natural, vitamins, minerals and low cholesterol. Please don’t fall for these marketing tricks. Honey Nut Cheerios, in my opinion, are not a beneficial addition to your diet in any way.
I don’t want to go fully in-depth on why I believe we should avoid all grains in our diet, but I do want to highlight a healthier alternative to the most popular breakfast food in our country.
First of all, let’s take a look at the Honey Nut Cheerios ingredients:
Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Oat Bran, Corn Starch, Honey, Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, Rice Bran, Canola Oil, Natural Almond Flavor and Vitamin E. (3)
Right off the bat, the second ingredient catches my eye. Sugar. Side note: Ingredients on food labels are required to be in order by volume of that ingredient in the product. Besides the “whole grain” oats, sugar is the most used ingredient in this cereal. No bueno. Not to mention, the 5th and 6th ingredient (Honey and Brown Sugar Syrup) are also sweeteners that give Honey Nut Cheerios their 9 grams of Sugars per serving. 9 grams of sugar is about 1/3 of the daily maximum recommended intake, per the American Heart Association. (4)
Two other ingredients that rub me the wrong way are the Corn Starch and Canola Oil. Unless otherwise stated on the label, when I see these two ingredients I assume they are highly processed, GMO ingredients. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are any organisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Doesn’t seem like something we should consume, does it? Corn is the most common GMO crop grown in America, with around 88% of the corn crops in the US being genetically modified. One of the many byproducts of GMO corn is Corn Starch, which is likely what is used in Honey Nut Cheerios. Similar to corn, Canola is also a huge GMO crop in the US. Between the sugars, grains, the potential for GMO ingredients (even though General Mills plans to try to eliminate GMO ingredients) and ridiculous chemical ingredients (Tripotassium Phosphate) I want nothing to do with Honey Nut Cheerios.
The reason I’m focusing on Cheerios so hard is because cereal is the most popular food eaten for the most important meal of the day – and Honey Nut Cheerios is the best-selling cereal in America. Aim for the king, right?
The nutritional content of Honey Nut Cheerios isn’t all that bad. They are relatively low in calories, fat and sodium. Unfortunately, they are also low in fiber and protein, plus extremely high in sugars. That’s also assuming that you consume ONE serving, 3/4 of a cup, of the cereal. No one has ever has just ONE bowl of cereal, have they? This is why I stress how important it is to look beyond the macronutrients (calories, fat, carbs & protein). Ingredients and serving size play a huge role in nutrition, you just have to look through the product marketing!
Make your breakfast count with a healthy breakfast made of whole food ingredients. One of the easiest, fastest and tastiest breakfast meals I have in my diet is a Spinach & Egg Omelette. Let’s compare this omelette with America’s favorite breakfast!
- Spinach Omelette
- 4 Ingredients
- 1 Serving = 1 Omelette
- 23 grams of Protein per serving
- 2 grams of Carbohydrates
- 0 grams of Sugar per serving
- 15 grams of fat per serving (Omega 3, 6 and 9)
- 250 Calories total
- Honey Nut Cheerios
- 12 Ingedients
- 1 Serving = 3/4 Cups of Cereal (no milk)
- 2 grams of Protein per serving
- 22 grams of Carbohydrates
- 9 grams of Sugar per serving
- 1.5 grams of fat per serving (Not from healthy sources)
- 110 Calories per serving (no milk)
1-2 Whole Eggs
1/3 Cup Liquid Egg Whites
2 Cups Spinach
1/2 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
1) Melt the Coconut Oil in a medium to high heat pan.
2) Add the Spinach to the pan at medium to high heat for a few minutes, until the Spinach starts to cook.
3) Pour the Liquid Egg Whites into the pan at medium to high heat. You can pour them right over the top of the Spinach.
4) Add your whole Eggs to the pan, still at medium to high heat.
5) Cover the pan and cook at medium to high heat for 1-minute, then set the temperature to a lower setting to finish cooking.
6) After a few minutes on low, flip the Omelette, cook for about 1-minute and turn the heat off. Salt & pepper to taste.
Notice the clock in the background. It only took 9 minutes to prepare this meal, and another 3-5 minutes to eat it. Cereal may be quicker and more convenient, but would you wake up 15 minutes earlier to better your health? I know I would!
As you can see, this is not a top secret family recipe passed down from generation to generation. It’s just a really simple, healthy way to start your day! I really hope you learned some great info in this blog post. If you’re eating Honey Nut Cheerios or any of sugary grains for breakfast, I’d like to challenge you to try this egg dish for breakfast sometime in the next week. Try it one time and I’m willing to bet you’ll throw out the cereal when you see how easy it is to have a healthy meal first thing in the morning. It’s delicious, nutritious and will keep you full for longer!
In good health,
1.) Langer, Gary. “POLL: What Americans Eat for Breakfast.” ABC News. ABC News, 17 May 2005. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/PollVault/story?id=762685>.
2.) Elliot, Stuart. “7 Agencies Will Tell You This Cereal Is No. 1.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 27 June 2011. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/business/media/27adnewsletter1.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>.
3.) “Honey Nut Cheerios.” Cheerios. General Mills. Web. <https://www.cheerios.com/en/Products/Honey Nut Cheerios.aspx>.
4.) “Frequently Asked Questions About Sugar.” American Heart Assoication. American Heart Association, 19 May 2014. Web. 19 Dec. 2014. <http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Frequently-Asked-Questions-About-Sugar_UCM_306725_Article.jsp>.