FIT Talk With Tania  

Breakfast cereal for dinner is a bad idea

More dessert than dinner

By now you've probably seen that ridiculous suggestion the CEO of Kellogg's proposed for consumers wanting to save money when it comes to groceries and getting dinner on the table.

It was a suggestion that not only raised a few eyebrows among the media and any rational-thinker, it downright raised the hair on the backs of the necks of any health professional worth his or her salt—the concept of having cereal for dinner.

At first glance, the suggestion might seem appealing for its convenience and the nostalgic comfort associated with a bowl of cereal. Who doesn't remember sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of something sweet and crunchy, watching Saturday morning cartoons?

But since neither convenience nor nostalgia care at all about the potential health risks this habit might pose for both kids and adults, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to talk about it.

Most commercially available cereals, especially those marketed towards children, are high in sugars and refined carbohydrates, while severely lacking in essential nutrients.

“Fortified with...” is creative marketing, merely alluding to health but never actually providing anything of substance. Honestly, cereal is more in line with being a dessert than it is with being a meal— breakfast or dinner.

A diet that frequently contains cereals—really, any ultra-processed foods—can lead to nutritional deficiencies and the complications that go with that.

Our bodies require balanced meals that include proteins, healthy fats and nutrient-dense carbohydrates in order to support growth and repair, give us energy and the ability to focus and concentrate. Fuelling with balanced nutrition rather than just filling the stomach, creates hormonal balance, stabilizes blood sugar and allows the body to achieve and maintain a healthy weight naturally.

One cereal meal is bad enough. Overall health, including that of our children, is the absolute worst it's ever been. Imagine the impact doubling this unhealthy intake would have. Not a very happy picture that's for sure, not to mention the stress it would put on our already strained health care system.

High sugar content is one of the most obvious and concerning aspects of considering cereal as a dinner option. Consuming large amounts of sugar on a regular basis can lead to immediate and long-term health issues. Not to mention it feeds the bad bacteria in your gut. As the bad bacteria grows, it needs more sugar to stay alive, causing your body to start craving sugar. In the short term, it causes blood sugar to spike and your body to store fat, followed by a crash in blood sugar, where your body burns muscle, energy is low, and metabolism grinds to a halt.

Over time, this contributes to the development of metabolic disease, such as type-two diabetes, obesity, heart disease, some cancers and Alzheimer's. For many years now, Alzheimer's has been called “type-three diabetes.”

For children, who are still growing and developing, the implications of a high-sugar diet are so much more than a risk of a few cavities. Fat cells form and become permanent as children grow, which is why children who are overweight or obese struggle way more with weight as adults than those who were a healthy weight when young.

Sugar and/or processed carbohydrates first thing in the morning causes an immediate blood sugar spike and starts the day off storing fat. Sugar for dinner continues hormonal disruption and destabilization of blood sugar, disrupts mood, elevates heart rate and disrupts sleep patterns. Lack of sleep, in duration and quality, also negatively affects the way your body takes in and metabolizes food, further thwarting your body's ability to take in nutrients.

Regularly consuming cereal/sugar for dinner can cause disordered eating. Dinner is traditionally time where families come together around the table at the end of the day. It provides an opportunity to consume a variety of foods that contribute to a balanced diet. By simplifying this meal to a bowl of cereal, there's a missed opportunity to introduce children to different flavours and textures, potentially leading to picky eating habits. Whether you think they're watching or not, kids do what their parents do.

Cereals are less satiating than whole food meals. Ultra-processed, high-sugar foods like cereal are devoid of any meaningful amount of nutrition and are therefore missing the essential building blocks of nutrition. Meals consisting of proteins, vegetables, healthy fats and fibre, on the other hand, fuel your body at a cellular level so you stay satisfied longer. That lack of satiety leads to overeating, disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with food.

It's clear having cereal for dinner is not the healthiest choice for either adults or children. While the convenience and simplicity of a bowl of cereal can be appealing, especially on a busy night, it's important to consider the long-term implications of such dietary choices on our health and well-being.

There are many quick and healthy dinner options that can provide the nutritional balance our bodies need. A whole, pre-cooked chicken and bagged salad is just one example of a much healthier option that won't break the bank and can be on the table in minutes.

In keeping with the Kellogg’s CEO's breakfast for dinner campaign, having hard boiled eggs ready in the fridge, or whipping up some scrambled eggs or an omelette paired with a piece of fruit, raw veggies or even a piece of toast is a more “egg-cellent” choice over cereal any day.

For more information on choosing foods to create hormonal balance and stabilize blood sugar and why that's important for any meal, watch Tania's 15 min video.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Nutritionist Tania Gustafson, owner of FIT Nutrition, has been active in the health and fitness industry since 1986 when she entered as a fitness instructor and trainer.

In 2011, Tania partnered with internationally renowned nutrition and fitness expert Mark Macdonald, and in 2017 officially earned the title of Master Nutrition Coach in conjunction with Venice Nutrition and the International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaches (IBNFC).

Tania is one of only five health professionals licensed and certified in Canada to deliver this proven, three-phase program of blood sugar stabilization, not dieting.Tania is committed to ending the dieting madness both locally and globally and educates her clients on how to increase health with age.

Tania is able to work with clients across Canada, the U.S. and U.K. to restore health and achieve their weight loss goals.Tania is a wife, mother of three adult children, global entrepreneur, speaker, workshop facilitator, writer, blogger, podcast host, travel junkie and self-proclaimed gym rat.

For more information and to book your complimentary health assessment go to www.fuelignitethrive.com. Check https://www.facebook.com/fuelignitethrive/  and https://www.facebook.com/groups/8weeksisallittakes/

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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