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Health

The Cereal Killer

 

It’s a Monday morning. Your alarm didn’t go off, and you got soap in your eye during your turbo-speed shower. That’s when you realize that, oh yeah, it’s going to be one of those days. Your stomach is growling, just waiting for that most important meal of the day. He problem is you’re super late. It’s not like you have time to make an English breakfast, so what do you do?

Eat a bowl of cereal, of course! After you pour your choice of cereal in the bowl (not before, you sadists), you add a milk of your choice, be it almond, soy, or good old fashioned cow milk. Then you shovel it down. You throw the dishes in the sink, give yourself a mental high-five, and run out the door. Even amidst all the chaos of the morning, you still got a healthy breakfast!

Except, you probably didn’t. While eating in the morning can be a great way to start your day, providing you with energy to power through the a.m., eating the wrong thing can be even worse. Breakfast cereals are most often marketed as quick, easy meals loaded with nutrients and fiber to kickstart your day, but that’s not all that’s in those brightly-colored boxes. Some of the most popular breakfast cereals today are loaded with sugars, which, in excess, can lead to an increased risk of dying from heart disease.

Let me illustrate my point with an example: One serving of Hershey’s Vanilla Ice Cream, which is half a cup, has fourteen grams of sugar in it. Now, if the average woman should have twenty-five grams of sugar per day, and the average man just thirty-eight, it probably isn’t smart to blow almost half of that on half a cup of ice cream.

So instead of the ice cream, you reach for Raisin Bran. It’s an unassuming, innocent cereal in a pretty purple box. It’s not like those children’s cereals in the neon boxes with the smiling cartoon characters that are loaded with sugar. No, it’s simple, trustworthy Raisin Bran. But that trustworthy, safe cereal has seventeen grams of sugar in one one-cup serving.

 And that’s without any milk.

Now, this example is pretty extreme, but that doesn’t change the fact that a serving of breakfast cereal has more grams of sugar than a serving of ice cream. Of course, the cereal also has good stuff in it too, like fiber and 80% of your daily Manganese, and most of the sugar comes from the raisins instead of added sugars. However, even though Raisin Bran has value, the sheer amount of sugar in it (and in the milk!) makes it a big no-no when it comes to breakfast.

So, what should you take away from this? Look at the nutrition facts before choosing a cereal. Not every breakfast cereal is loaded with sugar- Cheerios, a cereal staple, have only one gram of sugar per one-cup serving. That’s the same amount of cereal for sixteen fewer grams of sugar per serving. In many grocery stores, cereal boxes line an entire aisle, so if you can’t bear the idea of not having cereal every morning, take time to browse around and find the right fit for you. And remember, sugar is not inherently evil. Your body needs carbohydrates, like sugar, to function normally. What matters is that you ingest it in moderation and try not to exceed the recommended amount.

While cereal can be an acceptable alternative to breakfast choices that have long preparation time, you have to do your research first. A cereal can taste good and be good for you, too. Much like they say there’s someone for everyone, there’s a cereal for everyone too. So get out there and find your cereal soulmate.

 

Alexandra Gates

Elizabethtown '22

Alexandra is a sophomore biology/pre-med major at Elizabethtown College. She enjoys reading, eating dry cereal because she can't afford milk, and spending time outdoors. She is a firm believer in the inherent magic of petting dogs and drinking water every day.
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