When I was growing up, and even when I was in college, cereal was a staple food item for me. I woke up with a bowl of cereal, had a bowl of cereal for a snack. I’d come home tired after work, lethargic with absolutely no intentions of cooking and have a bowl of cereal. Heck, on a good day, I’d even eat cereal after dinner as dessert when I was craving something sweet.
I know I’m not the only one. Remember that old Fam-Lay and Pharrell Rock N Roll video where Pharrell was eating his bowl of cereal in the middle of the street? That was an ICONIC moment in black culture around 2004 – 2005. (I feel super old now by the way.)
I’ve got news for you. Most cereal isn’t healthy. Probably because it’s not really food. I know what you’re thinking. I can’t even have cereal, Chelsea? Seriously? I know, but hear me out. Let’s talk ingredients.
Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is a toluene-based ingredient used as a preservative in food and personal care products. It’s also an endocrine disruptor, which by now you should know that I’m super paranoid about. BHT has been linked to cancer and is banned in several countries such as Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan. Hmm, I wonder why it’s not banned here.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
If you look closely at your cereal label, most traditional cereals have statements like “produced with genetic engineering” or “partially produced with genetic engineering” right on the box. Some of the top GMO ingredients in cereal include GMO corn, GMO soy, synthetic vitamins (which our body can’t really absorb anyway), and GMO oils like canola oil, palm oil, sunflower oil and cottonseed oil. They’re hiding it in plain site and you’re still eating it.
Dextrose, brown sugar syrup, corn syrup, dried cane syrup, high fructose syrup, you name it. Oh, and it doesn’t stop there. There are so many “nicknames” for processed sugar. The dangerous thing is that most people don’t eat just one bowl because it doesn’t fill them up. As a result, you end up eating two or three times the recommended serving size.
Limiting sugar intake is near and dear to my heart because African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, 13.2% of all African Americans age 20 years or older have been diagnosed diabetes. Let’s break the cycle.
It's not you, it's your cereal. Click To Tweet
Other Ingredients of Concern
- Acacia Gum
- Artificial Flavors
- Artificial Colors
- “Natural” Flavors
- Defatted Soy Grits
- Degermintated Yellow Corn
- Canola Oil
- Palm Oil
This is not an all encompassing list, but I’ll finish here because I really could go on and on.
My Favorite Breakfast Options
Ultimately, it’s time to start eating real, whole foods again. Need better breakfast options? Here are some of my personal favorites:
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All photos by WillPowerPhotos for That’s Chelsea