If your goals are:
- To stop emotional eating
- To have abundant energy,
- To love your body,
- To be sharp and focused
- To feel joyful and light,
Then don’t eat cereal!
I am working with a young woman at the moment who has all of the above goals. She’s intelligent, doing a pHD in fact, she’s active in martial arts and she’s obese and, she thought, an emotional eater. Like most Australians, she ate cereal for breakfast. Here are some of the arguments I gave her to encourage her to find an alternative. (NB see my note at the end regarding her addictive eating).
Cereal is high in the wrong type of carbohydrates. It contains sugar and highly refined grain which upsets your insulin levels, puts weight on around the middle and sets you up to crave more food, especially sugar, later in the day. Refined grains can take you from pear-shaped to apple-shaped!
Cereal is devoid of the right kind of nutrients. Feeding your cells the nutrients they need is the single most important function of eating. Without nutrients a liver cell cannot do what it is supposed to do, nor can a brain cell or a bone cell or any cell! The vitamins and minerals in cereals have been processed out in order to maintain shelf life. Insufficient nutrients can make your cells “hungry” even though you are full. We call this the “starving on a full stomach syndrome”. It makes us hungry all the time!
We need fats and proteins especially for breakfast. Cereals are predominantly one food group – carbohydrate or more specifically, grain. We have a whole meal that gives us no healthy fats or good quality protein. Fats and protein give us satiety, keep us feeling full for longer, and make the meal balanced. Healthy fats help you lose weight and protein helps to keep your blood sugar levels even.
We need to eat fruit and vegetables. Micronutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals (food constituents that have healing qualities) mainly come from fruit and vegetables which is why we are told to eat a minimum of 2 fruit and 5 vegetables a day – something most people don’t do. Eating cereal for breakfast is a waste of a meal if it contains no fruit or vegetables.
We can’t believe the advertising if we want to reach these goals. Cereal is advertised to us as a healthy, nutritious start to the day (eg Allbran or Just Right)! It’s marketed as a weight loss food (eg Special K). Even the worst are marketed as rich in vitamins and minerals (Eg Nutrigrain). It’s rubbish! Food that comes out of a box and that contains refined carbohydrate and sugar is not a health food.
Also, cereals contain either no fibre or the type that can cause irritation to the gut, leading to all kinds of health complaints like constipation, acne, headaches and difficulty losing weight.
Armed with this information my client was able to explore other options for breakfast. She started to make her own muesli, experimented with smoothies, and ate eggs and omelettes more regularly. Interestingly with this highly nutritious and satisfying approach and some self-kindness coaching her binge eating in the evenings almost entirely disappeared.