HEALTH
Inspiration from Meghan

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Magically Delicious? How About Magically Diabetic!

 

As a kid, I was a huge cereal lover. I ate it every morning before school and on most weekends. To make matters worse, while I was munching on my sugar nuggets, I would watch all those cute little cartoon commericals on TV advertising new varieties of these marshmallow-filled boxes of joy. Of course, I proceeded to do what any child high on ridiculous amounts of sugar would do - I ran around the house asking for the newest cereal concoction. My wish was always granted. The only catch was that I had to finish off the old box first. I never did though; the new box got opened up the morning after it was purchased. I was sneaky like that.

Thinking about all those different "kids'" cereals now, I don't know what I was so excited about. They're all pretty much the same: Sugar, wheat/corn/rice, sugar, sugar, food colouring, BHT (we'll get to what this BHT stuff is in a bit!). I don't know about you, but looking at that picture above makes my teeth ache and pancreas cry. Did I really eat all those boxes of cereal as a kid? Do parents still feed their kids this stuff? Do kids still ask for it?

Although it's not very often that I go into a conventional grocery store, I recently found myself in one with my father and was shocked to see how much of the "cereal isle" is devoted to these colourful sugary cereals. The ones marketed towards children are cleverly found on the lower shelves so that they are eye-level with youngsters. How diabolical...

This is the ingredient list of an ever-popular kids' cereal Lucky Charms:

Whole Grain Oats, Marshmallows (sugar, modified corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, calcium carbonate, yellows 5&6, blue 1, red 40, artificial flavour), Sugar, Oat flour, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Salt, Trisodium Phosphate, Colour Added, Natural and Artificial Flavour. BHT added to preserve freshness.

The Ugly Breakdown:

  • Sugar is listed 5 times.
  • There are 4 types of food colourings.
  • "Flavouring" appears 3 times (there is nothing natural about "natural flavour". Real food has flavour on its own).
  • Genetically modified corn ingredients are abundant (modified corn starch, corn syrup listed twice, and corn starch).
  • BHT has been added. Although it does not specify whether it has been added to the actual cereal or to the packaging material, this is not something we want in or near ourselves/our kids. As a food additive, BHT increases a food product's shelf life but it has been linked to numerous health concerns such as cancer, thyroid and kidney disorders, allergic reactions on the skin, and reproductive issues. Health Canada has categorized BHT as a "moderate human health priority".
Meghan is convinced that the gelatin in this cereal comes from horse hoof. I have no idea where she gets this from, but every mention of this post had her typing "Naaaaaay" after it. She also shared with me this little tidbit- as a kid her mom wouldn't buy Lucky Charms. But her grandma would. Meghan would eat it by the bowlful- dry, saving the marshmallows for last. She is now convinced that indirectly, she has eaten about a dozen horse and pig hoofs in the form of gelatin in Lucky Charms marshmallows.

We've all heard the age-old but true nutritional advice that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is espeically true for kids who are still devleoping and will really have trouble maintaining focus and energy during a long school day without stable blood sugar levels. Why feed kids this product? Is there anything good about it? Maybe the whole grain oats, but it really takes only a few minutes to cook up some oatmeal on the stove. From scratch! Nothing fake and mashmallowy about that!

If you still need a cereal fix, Meghan's got you covered tomorrow. A perfect breakfast idea for the warmer weather is coming your way!

Question Of The Day: What was your favourite childhood food? Have you found any ways to remake it?

22 Responses to “Magically Delicious? How About Magically Diabetic!”

  1. peace said…
    All the pretty colours.... o_O
  2. Alex said…
    Ha! I used to get my grandma to hook me up with the naughty cereals too! Looking forward to Meghan's cereal recipe!
  3. Megan said…
    I use to count my lucky charm marshmallows (every morning)... had I been more organized and logged the amount of marshmallows eaten, I'm sure I could tell you exactly how many horse hooves I consumed *barf*
  4. Sarah said…
    Even as a kid I could never wrap my head around the more sensational cereals. You want marshmallows? For breakfast? That's not to say I didn't eat my weight in apple jacks, corn pops, and smacks. Plenty of "adult" cereals are big offenders too. The sugar grams in a bowl of raisin bran is sinful!
    • Morgan Calvi said…
      Yeah, for some reason Raisin Bran makes me sick. It must be the sugar on the raisins.
  5. Gail said…
    Must confess - I am a childhood lucky charms junkie too! Captain Crunch was one of my favorites! I would love to see more information about nutritious eating (I mean really nutritious eating!) given directly to parents. At school we see the worst lunches and snacks. I sometimes just can't believe that parents buy so much junk. Maybe school age is too late for the information. Perhaps it needs to be sent home with parents from the hospital when their child is born so they have something to refer to right from the beginning. I can't tell you how many times a child has showed me their lunch kit because I have told them to take out a healthy snack and they really don't have ANYTHING healthy in the bag. Most of the stuff wouldn't even pass as real food. Very sad.
  6. Val said…
    My mom at least wouldn't buy the over-sugared cereals (except maybe when we were on vacation), though even the 'healthier' ones still have very scary ingredients that make me shudder now. Like Cheerios: Whole grain oat, modified corn starch, corn starch, sugar, salt, trisodium phosphate, calcium carbonate, monoglycerides, tocopherols, wheat starch, annatto, vitamins & minerals: niacinamide, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin b6), folate, iron.
  7. Emily said…
    Gelatin comes from the collagen in animal bones, tendons, and skin. Mmmm, why wouldn't you want that for breakfast. Just pair it with a nice slice of Scrapple. I'll stick to fruit and whole grains.
  8. Andrea Palen said…
    I used to LOVE "Tricks Cereal"... probably because "Tricks are for kids". It is amazing that now when I see "food" that is coloured it bright aggressive dyes...I immediately think poison! Actually , that is not amazing... it is just common sense.
  9. Jo said…
    Just you try to get a six-year-old to eat a bowl of oatmeal. Kids are very texture-sensitive, and oatmeal is not a texture they generally like. I do say *generally*, because I'm sure there are amazing eaters out there. My daughter used to eat oatmeal when she was a toddler, then alas, she grew out of liking it. I still offer it to her regularly, and she regularly rejects it. I mention this to point out that it's not quite as simple as just whipping up a pot of oatmeal and bingo! your child will love it. Anyone who has kids knows this story. Now this isn't an excuse or justification for serving children processed junk cereals. I don't buy those for my girl. But it's a tad optimistic to think that most children will happily shift from conventional cereal to oatmeal/Red River/quinoa just like *that*.
    • Jen Rotstein said…
      Jo, I'm sure if they are used to sugar cereals it would be a hard switch. I think I was lucky because I loved the junky cereals as well as oatmeal :) I'm sure there are other options that would work too though! If you know of any that kids do like please let me know :) !
      • Janet said…
        My comments are in reply to Jo's comment: You're so right that kids often begin to reject foods that they used to eat happily. This is a normal part of childhood! While it can be frustrating, the trick is to ride out the ups and downs of your daughter's changing palate and changing sense of independence without turning that bowl of cereal into a battleground. Good for you for continuing to offer her oatmeal regularly. You might try experimenting with other whole grains for breakfast, or even try varying the texture of the oatmeal you are making her. Perhaps she would like it thinner, or thicker? Also give her the chance to make it fun, colourful (& healthier too) by letting her pick some "add-ins" -chopped fresh or dried fruit, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, pureed berries etc. are all great things to jazz up her bowl. Hope that helps!
        • Meghan Telpner said…
          Amazing tips!!!
        • Jo said…
          Those are good tips Janet. I never thought of varying the relative thickness of the oatmeal, but maybe that's the secret. Thanks! For the record, I don't feed my daughter junk cereal; for breakfast she eats whole-grain toast & fruit.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      I hated oatmeal as a kid. So much so that at camp, I would get the dry flakes and eat them just as they were. There is no excuse to serve kids toxic food- just so they'll eat. They'll just keep putting up a fuss if it always ends up with what they want. You can easily make a crunchy granola if it's a texture thing.
  10. Five Seed said…
    My mother would never buy us the "good" (aka sugary) cereals when I was little. She only bought Grape Nuts and Chex and Rice Krispies and the like. She said the other cereals would kill us with all that sugar. But my aunt used to have them, so when we'd sleep over at our cousins' house, we would GORGE ourselves on the sugary cereals. I, too, used to love Lucky Charms and save the marshmallows for last. Sadly, I still have a love for this cereal, but thankfully, I have the willpower to try not to eat it! Ick!
    • Erika said…
      This made me think of my own childhood. I grew up in a health-conscious household. Breakfasts involved, variously, organic eggs, whole grain breads, yogurt, fresh fruit, and sometimes bran cereals from the healthfood store that had no sugar or corn syrup in them. So what did I do whenever I had the chance at a friend's house? Stuff my face with sugar cereals, with Golden Grahams being a particular favorite. *sigh* I think my mom is relieved that I grew out of that after college and now many years later have become a health food devotee of my own. The way she raised us certainly didn't escape me, and her influence and knowledge helped me to find the right practitioner to help me heal a serious illness. I think all we should educate our children and feed them at home as best we can, but know they are going to make their own choices away from the house as soon as they are old enough to do so.

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