It was great to gain the extra hour this weekend when Daylight Savings Time ended.  It is a bit depressing that it starts getting dark so early.  But I like the fact that it’s light out when I get up, and it’s just a little easier to wake up in the morning.  For a little while at least :)

I thought I would take advantage of waking up a little earlier this week and a delayed start at school tomorrow and feature breakfast posts all week.  Honestly, it is and always has been my favorite meal of the day!  And I think we all know that it is the most important meal of the day.

Instead of just posting a new pancake/egg/muffin recipe everyday, I thought I would start with a little background of what we DON’T eat for breakfast in our house.

This may seem strange to some people if they don’t know me well, but I rarely buy boxed cereal for my kids for breakfast.  I have avoided the cereal aisles for quite some time now after learning that most cereals contain genetically modified corn and/or soy, an outrageous amount of sugar (sometimes up to 50% sugar by weight and many times it is in the form of high fructose corn syrup), as well as numerous petroleum-based food dyes. Surely, that is no way to start off the day!

On occasion, I do buy cereal for my kids as a treat.  They are kids after all and they do like it!  When I buy cereal for them, is usually Cascadian Farms organic cereals, with ingredients that I recognize, and it is rare since it’s pretty expensive.  Besides, they have enough other breakfasts that they love (and are just as quick and easy)!

The topic of cereal just came up with my kids when they recently had a sugary cereal at a sleepover.   I won’t name the specific cereal, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the ingredients:

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To some, this may look pretty harmless….oat flour, coconut oil, strawberry juice.  But let’s take a closer look at some of the worst offenders here, shall we??

Corn flour – unless the item is certified organic, it is most likely derived from genetically modified corn (known as GMO or GM). According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, “several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. Want to know more about GMO’s?? Read this.

Sugar – Toxic and addictive according to this eye-opening feature on 60 Minutes last year. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “sugar takes a devastating toll on your health. In fact, excessive sugar consumption may be the largest factor underlying obesity and chronic disease in America.” You know its bad when he has a list of 76, yes you read that right…. 76 Dangers of Sugar to Your Health!!! In a nutshell, it is a fact that consuming sugar causes inflammation in the body which contributes to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, candida, as well as a weakening of the immune system.  For children specifically, it weakens their immune system and has a negative impact on their behavior, attention span, and learning according to well-known pediatrician Dr. Sears.  He also states that children are more sensitive to the effects of sugar than adults are.  I could go on and on, but really, there is nothing positive about sugar.

Natural and Artificial flavor – Both artificial and natural flavors are made by scientists in a laboratory by blending either “natural” chemicals or “synthetic” chemicals to create flavorings. The distinction between natural and artificial flavorings is subtle and is based on the source of these often identical chemicals.  Unfortunately the FDA has no real regulation for the term “natural flavor.”

One of my main concerns is that Monosodium Glutamate (“MSG”) is a neurotoxin that can be legally hidden from you as “natural flavors” in the ingredients list.  MSG is a problem as it can cause brain lesions, neuro-endocrine disorders, and neurodegenerative disease in humans according to Natural News.  While we are on the topic, did you know that there are more than 25 names for MSG?

Some examples of sources of “natural” flavors in our food supply:

  • shellac – the resinous secretion of female bugs
  • cystine – a dough conditioner derived from human hair and duck feathers
  • maltodextrin – derived from genetically-modified corn is considered a natural flavor
  • beavers’ anal gland secretions (Castoreum) in the manufacturing of vanilla, strawberry and raspberry flavors – which then appear in ice cream, soda and yogurt

Gross.  Just gross.

Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Red 40 – A whopping 4 dyes included in this cereal!!!!! Here are some facts from Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food regarding food dyes:

I particularly liked the information in her post “7 Reasons I Hate Artificial Food Dyes.”

BHT – a preservative banned in almost every country but the U.S.  The Skin Deep site rates BHT as having a “high hazard depending on product usage” and says it has been linked to cancer, developmental toxicity, allergies, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, biochemical and  cellular level changes.

Are you as upset as I am by this information?!?!?  And I am just highlighting here, barely touching the surface of the issues with these ingredients!

Now, I am all for “treats” in moderation. But in my opinion, this is not a treat as I do not even consider this to be edible. If you refer to Michael Pollan’s definition of “food,” this would not be considered real food (an item your grandmother would recognize, has less than 5 ingredients, has ingredients you can pronounce, and will eventually rot).   Personally, I think it is tragic that food manufacturers (and the FDA) think it is OK to bombard small, growing, developing children with this toxic load of chemicals.

It is my hope here at Healthy Plate Happy Family to inspire you to eat healthy.  I hope that this information will encourage you to take a closer look at the labels on the foods that you are buying and question the ingredients in the food that we feed our families.  I hope that this week of awesome breakfasts will leave you excited to try something new for your family.  Feel free to share your favorites or let me know if you try anything new this week!!

 

 

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