Are you eating dessert for breakfast?
The standard North American diet relies on one simple thing – convenience. I am all for convenience, and simple and quick meals, but not when it comes at the sake of our health.
It is said that the standard North American diet, or SAD diet (see the acronym there), contains upwards of 50 grams or 12 teaspoons of sugar per day. That works out to a total of 116 grams or 28 teaspoons of sugar consumed at breakfast alone during the course of one week. Not to mention the sweet treats we dive into on the weekend at coffee shops and brunch spots. The World Health Organization suggest that we limit our sugar intake to a maximum of 25 grams per day, and as you can see most of us are blowing that number out of the sugar water.
The reality is that most people don’t realize the amount of sugar they are consuming at breakfast. Be it lack of knowledge or an “ignorance is bliss” mentality, many individuals are eating half of their body weight in sugar every year, as they chow down on the equivalent of a Snickers bar for breakfast.
Below are some very common breakfast items, and how they stack up on the sugar cube charts.
Yogurt & Granola
1/2 cup Activia Non-Fat Vanilla Yogurt (9g) + 2/3 cup Quaker Harvest Crunch Granola (10g) = 19g or 4.5 tsp of sugar
This is often considered the ‘healthy’ breakfast option; but it’s a load of bologna. Vanilla yogurt sounds innocent, but it often has more sugar than all of the other flavours, and removing the fat from yogurt not only increases the sugar content, but reduces it’s overall nutritional value.
Cereal & Skim Milk
1 cup Kellogs Raisin Bran (15g) + 1 cup Natrel 0% Milk (11g) = 26g or 6 tsp of sugar
Bran flakes. I can already hear you, “But aren’t they are high in fibre!?”. Ya, that’s what they tell you, but they also give you two scoops of sugar along with those raisins. Let’s hope the refined and fortified wheat bran is powerful enough to keep things moving once you’ve backed yourself up with all that sugar. (ie – Too much sugar can cause constipation.)
Bagel & Cream Cheese
1 Country Harvest 12 Grain Bagel (6g) + 2 tbsp. Philadelphia Fat-Free Strawberry Cream Cheese (6g) = 12g or 3 tsp of sugar
“But it’s 12 grains!?” There could be 56 grains in these bagels, but if they are all milled down into refined white flours it’s kind of a moot point. There is no nutritional value left! Especially when we top our bagel with a good lather of flavoured cream cheese (aka – icing.)
Oatmeal & Raisins
1 package Quaker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (12g) + 1/4 cup Sun-Maid Raisins (29g) = 41g or 10 tsp of sugar
Pre-flavoured oatmeal might as well be called “sugar in a packet”, as they never live up to their innocent names. And I hate to break it to you, but dried fruit is essentially concentrated little nuggets of sugar. Albeit better than candy, it doesn’t take too much of it to increase the overall sugar content of your breakfast.
Unfortunately, these estimates are conservative. Most individuals consume more than the recommended serving size per meal, making the estimated sugar consumption at breakfast much higher, and I have not even included your morning coffee or latte.
So, what should you eat?
- Begin by reading the labels. Knowledge is powder and if you don’t read, you don’t know.
- Make your own products. Oatmeal, easy. Granola, easy. Making products with whole ingredients allows you to control the sweetness and, therefore, the overall sugar content.
- Eat whole foods. Make eggs for breakfast. Eat real fruit. Cook yourself some oatmeal. Be aware of how “real” or “whole” the food you are eating actually is. If most of your breakfast foods involve a label or a barcode, you are likely missing the mark.