The ‘Balanced Breakfast’ of My Youth

If you’re around my age, you may remember when almost every commercial for cereal ended with the tagline: Part of this nutritious breakfast! Or, Part of this balanced breakfast! The “balanced” breakfast shown was always a bowl of cereal, two pieces of toast (because the cereal alone didn’t provide enough processed grain), a glass of milk and a glass of juice – usually orange juice.

Here are a couple of collections of old cereal ads I found on YouTube. The first is from the 1970s, the second from the 1980s:

Boy, cereal had some great flavors back in the day: chocolate, sugar, honey, cinnamon toast, more sugar, marshmallows, rocky road ice cream, even more sugar, and chocolate chip cookies. Trust me, Kellogg’s and General Mills had no problem convincing us to eat those “balanced” breakfasts. I think we may be looking at part of the reason rates of obesity began to take off around 1980.

Just for grins, I took clips from the videos above and stitched them into a little summary of my own:

Let’s look at the nutrition breakdown of that “balanced” breakfast the cereal manufacturers were promoting back then. Officially, a serving of cereal is cup or a half-cup, depending on the brand, but if you look at the commercials, those cereal bowls hold more like two cups – and I didn’t know any kids who ate just one cup of cereal for breakfast. They were called cereal bowls for a reason.

So I’ll go with two cups of Frosted Flakes, 2% milk (which is what we drank when I was an adolescent), Parkay Margarine (which was mostly trans fat back then) and Minute Maid orange juice from concentrate, the kind your mom mixed with water. Here’s what we get:

Frosted Flakes (2 cups)
Calories: 320
Protein: 2.7 g
Carbs: 75 g
Sugar: 32 g
Fat: 2 g

2% Milk (2 cups)
Calories: 244
Protein: 16 g
Carbs: 23 g
Sugar 23 g
Fat: 10 g

Toast (2 slices)
Calories: 140
Protein: 4 g
Carbs: 28 g
Sugar: 4 g
Fat: 2 g

Parkay Margarine (2 tbs)
Calories: 120
Fat: 14 g

Minute Maid Orange Juice (8 oz)
Calories: 110
Carbs: 27 g
Sugar: 24 g

Okay, let’s add up that nutritious breakfast:

Calories: 934
Protein: 22.7 g
Carbs: 153 g
Sugar: 83 g
Fat: 28 g

As a percent of calories, it works out to about 65% carbohydrate, 10% protein and 25% fat. Hey, I’ll be darned if those aren’t the proportions recommended by the USDA! No wonder people in my generation are so remarkably lean and free of diabetes.

I believe (or hope, anyway) that most parents these days know that cereals full of chocolate and marshmallows aren’t health food. But I’d bet many of them still believe a glass of orange juice is part of a nutritious breakfast.

Take a look at the sugar content in that glass of orange juice listed above. It’s a Coke with a bit of vitamin C. Now take a look at part of the abstract from a study in which investigators included orange juice with breakfast for one of the study groups, but not the other.

On 2 separate days, healthy normal-weight adolescents (n = 7) and adults (n = 10) consumed the same breakfast with either orange juice or drinking water and sat at rest for 3 h after breakfast. The meal paired with orange juice was 882 kJ (210 kcal) higher than the meal paired with drinking water. Both meals contained the same amount of fat (12 g). For both age groups, both meals resulted in a net positive energy balance 150 min after breakfast. Resting fat oxidation 150 min after breakfast was significantly lower after breakfast with orange juice, however. The results suggest that, independent of a state of energy excess, when individuals have a caloric beverage instead of drinking water with a meal, they are less likely to oxidize the amount of fat consumed in the meal before their next meal.

If you’re not oxidizing fat, you’re storing it. That’s why we never include orange juice (or apple juice, or grape juice, or any other fruit juice) in the nutritious breakfasts we serve at home – much less cereal and toast.


87 thoughts on “The ‘Balanced Breakfast’ of My Youth

  1. Denise Cripps

    You’ll be shocked to hear that Jim remembered every one of these commercials. And with great fondness 🙂

    Not shocked at all. We grew up watching those … by “we,” I mean old guys.

    1. Justin Nosenzo

      I love how a TON of people on this thread hold bacon in such high regard. Bacon is terrible for you. Maybe not as bad as cereal, but still. A solid breakfast is eggs, plain oatmeal(you can add organic raisins), and water. I think it’s funny that some people in this thread claim that these cereals MADE them morbidly obese. You decide what goes into YOUR body. I grew up eating all that crap and Pop Tarts and Toaster Strudels, etc. But I stayed active, and once I got out on my own, learned that this stuff was garbage and started eating clean like people used to before all of these companies started coming out with all this garbage. If you eat stuff with poor nutritional value, yes it definitely has a negative impact on your health, but the fact that you get morbidly obese is because you don’t exercise. People always want a scapegoat so they don’t have to be responsible for letting themselves become out of shape and unhealthy.

      What is your evidence for claiming that:

      1. Bacon is bad for you?
      2. Exercise prevents obesity?

  2. Randal L. Schwartz

    Working on the road, I have many opportunities to check out the “free” breakfast buffets provided by the hotels. It’s amazing how much of this stuff is just outright damaging, and yet is gobbled up (literally) by the hotel guests. {sigh} All those juices, pancakes, waffles, pastries. At least they often have bacon and eggs and sausage and cheese! Yeay!

  3. Holly

    I’m 42 and remember most of these. They were certainly more liberal in the 70’s and 80’s with using the word “sugar” when describing the product. Now they seem to focus more on the “healthy” whole grains and low fat aspects of this garbage.

    I grew-up on this crap (and became morbidly obese), it turns my stomach to watch these commercials. Yes, I’m bitter, because following the “food pyramid” didn’t solve and probably caused my weight issues! Until recently I wasn’t give the correct (low carb) tools to control my weight.

    No more of this garbage for my family!

    Sugar Pops, Sugar Frosted Flakes, Sugar Smacks … the cereals of my youth.

    1. Cyborcat

      What was funny was in the 80’s, when people were becoming more health conscious those cereals weren’t selling as well due to “sugar” being part of the name … so they took it out and/or replaced it with “honey” (Sugar Corn Pops to Corn Pops, Sugar Smacks to Honey Smacks, etc.)*without changing the ingredients at all* … and people started buying them again *facepalm*

      I guess if it doesn’t say “Sugar” in the name, there’s no sugar.

  4. Steve

    And the odd part is perhaps the worst cereal of all is any of the shredded wheat variety and these were considered quite healthful back in the day.

    I can remember my own mother’s rule that I was not allowed to have any cereal that “had sugar as the first ingredient”. Somehow “Rocky Road” made the cut (and man was that stuff like crack). The reality was that was all a bunch of crap with bonus points for wheat and/or artificial coloring.

    I have only been fully low carb for a little over a year. However the one thing I did figure out 20 years ago is that breakfast cereal was garbage. A big part of the reason I clued in was it made me feel so bad. It took me two more decades though to figure out the bigger picture.

    There is a special place in hell for these cereal manufacturers.

    Unfortunately, I spent much of my adult life eating Grape-Nuts, which aren’t a whole lot better.

    1. Galina L.

      When our family came to Canada in 1995, I immediately appreciated the Shredded wheat , however, we used it as occasional cookies with our coffee.

      That’s better than eating a bowl full of them, I guess.

    2. Ben

      Silly to waste energy damning the cereal manufacturers (who didn’t force anyone to consume their product). As explained in Tom’s film and posts, the immoral/damnable parties, if any, were certain politicians and researchers, along with their respective organizations.

      1. Steve

        The cereal manufacturers aren’t legally guilty of fraud, so yes I suppose it is within their rights to market their products the way that they do. However I do feel that they are intentionally sending a message they know damn well is false. They have to live with that… but well said it is a “waste of energy” to grade the morality of those involved.

        Sure, they have every right to market crap. It’s up to us to convince people the crap is crap.

  5. Lauren

    My mom had the same sugar rule, except for us it had to be no higher than #3. As a result I ate (and somehow learned to like) a lot of grape nuts. Of course, my mom didn’t cook at all, so a typical day’s meal was grapenuts, school lunch, and then a tv dinner. I was skinny, but always sick. Anyway, all that to say I definitely remember the “well balanced” shtick.

    “Well-balanced” apparently meant equal proportions of wheat and sugar. That’s why they added the toast.

  6. Bret

    That was pretty much my regular childhood breakfast, except with skim milk instead of whole. Even when I did have eggs and bacon, there was always a set of pancakes or waffles to go with, because we all know you need your grains for energy! (Pay no attention to that cottage cheese beneath the belly skin)

    Nice little trip back in time with those videos. Thundercats, Ho!

    I’d forgotten about some of those cereals until I saw the old commercials.

  7. Stephen Brand, CPT, SFN, SSF

    My poison of choice was sugar-frosted flakes. I’d eat until I just had the milk left. Then, of course, I’d have to add more cereal to that. But then, alas, not enough milk. So, more milk, but then, shoot, cereal gone but milk left…and on it went until I was so full…

    And I thought I was the only one.

  8. Bruce

    Maybe little 9 year old Hannah and her mom will tackle the cereal makers next for their use of cartoon characters to sell sugar to kids.

    I guess it will depend on whether or not Hannah eats cereal.

  9. Cyborcat

    Saw the Nutritious Breakfast? video on your YouTube channel before coming here to see what article went with it–gotta say, it’s got some nostalgia factor, and some of those commercials were cute.

    Speaking of cereal, I remember when you talked about the glycemic index of Raisin Bran on Fat Head–it really hit home for me because it’s exactly what I was eating at the time (with added dried cranberries and honey)–can hardly believe I ever did that.

    I hear you. I can’t believe I ate Grape Nuts and Shredded Wheat and thought I was doing myself a favor.

  10. Tammy

    Well no wonder I was always ready to pass out by 9am – and I was eating 3 bowls of mini-wheats !!! I grew up on on those too but luckily found Atkins 11 years ago. Now I reserve my Cocoa Pebbles for crispy treats for New Year’s Eve !!

    That sounds like a wild New Year’s Eve.

  11. Jen

    That was a nice trip down memory lane. I remember the commercials and could sing with some of them. I remember being so excited that we got the Lucky Charms with the mixed up colors! I grew up eating cereal for breakfast almost every day and my mom would wonder why we were always hungry.

    A blood-sugar spike followed by a blood-sugar crash will do that to you.

  12. Amy

    I don’t serve breakfast cereal to my kids. A friend asked once why, and I said it was just as bad as cake: flour, sugar, corn syrup, artificial flavors. “Enriched” doesn’t make it healthy, neither does whole grain. She was sold, no more breakfast cereal for her kids.

    Instead, she buys the bulk size box of chocolate chip waffles at her local club store and serves them with non-dairy spread and maple-flavored corn syrup. It’s quick and convenient, she says, and healthy because vitamins and minerals. And it’s better than no breakfast, of course, because she doesn’t have time in the morning to make breakfast (she does not work at all).

    I also do not work. This morning I was able to feed five people bacon, eggs, and toast (yeah, we eat bread sometimes) in about 15 minutes. I think cereal eating is for the lazy – lazy way to eat without thinking, lazy way of thinking you’ll get excellent nutrition because the box told you so rather than do your own research and be a bit introspective.

    My blood sugar is spiking just hearing about those waffles.

    1. Cyborcat

      Bah to your friend not having enough time.

      Granted, I have no kids, but I work a full-time job yet I just set aside maybe 30 minutes on Sunday to cook about a dozen eggs for breakfast throughout the week, and just reheat as needed. Would involve more time and effort for multiple people, of course, but the point still stands.

      1. Jill

        That’s so weird (her, not you).

        Scrambled eggs has to be THE fastest breakfast possible apart from cereal!

    2. Kristin

      I call BS as well on this. It takes no more time to scramble an egg than it does to make up waffles or toast. It is just a matter of what your habit is. Or probably more accurately, your excuse to maintain your carb addiction. But then all that said I do have compassion for that terrified look in the eyes of people who say “Oh! I couldn’t give THAT up.” I was behind those eyeballs once.

      I also think we as a culture have allowed ourselves to be sucked in by the food companies and their lure of convenience. You can make time to cook a decent meal now or make time to be ill later. Your choice.

    3. Steve

      Its not the perfect food but we go through a lot of the Costco pre-cooked bacon. Takes one minute in my microwave. My kids love it. And yes I do make pastured bacon in a pan on the weekends when I have time.

  13. Lyndsey

    As a child of the nineties, I remember a LOT of brightly animated Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs cereal commercials. I wondered why my diabetic mother rarely bought me these foods. LOL.

    (I only got a case of real, non-diet soda like maybe twice a year – remember Surge?)

    Never heard of Surge. I remember people drinking Jolt Cola back in the day.

  14. Firebird

    My cereal was Life and then Cinnamon Life. Eventually, Cheerios in all of its forms became my favorite night time snack, and I could not limit it to one bowl.

    Eating wheat makes you want more wheat.

    1. Firebird

      Cheerios are oats, but I get the point. I’ve gone back for seconds with the Quaker Oats flavored oatmeal packets. I think it had to do with the flavoring and not the oats, because I use to eat a bowl of oatmeal every day and rarely went back for more. Oh, and oats are good for lowering cholesterol…so why did mine go UP while eating oats on a daily basis for 15 years? Where is the FDA crack down on that claim?!

      Oats, corn starch and wheat starch, according to their site.

      Yeah, I ate flavored oatmeal for the flavoring. I believe the maple was my favorite.

  15. Raul Johnson

    I remember when Kellogg’s introduced their strawberry Pop Tart cereal. David Letterman remarked, “It’s Mom’s way of saying ‘I … just don’t give a damn.'”

    Too true.

  16. tess

    🙂 I have a college textbook of my grandmother’s — she studied home economics about the time the Great War started — which lauds sugar as a source of energy. Of course, people had more physical daily lifestyles then than we do now, and the amount of sugar in the diet was considerably smaller. But then again, that generation seemed to suffer an increasing amount of cancer, heart disease and obesity as they aged….

    Sure, their sugar consumption was a fraction of ours today.

  17. Christine

    Thank you Tom, for the thoughtful post. I am 47 and as kids this stuff was heavily marketed to us on the main mass media machine (TV). We were rarely allowed sugar cereals ( we were only getting Shreddies, Cheerios and Shredded Wheat) but really, that only made the sugar stuff MORE desirable and that appeal persisted into my adulhood (how sad)!
    The real mind blowing is how they got away with saying any cereal was of a balanced breakfast”! At the time, there had to be a generation alive that must have though this starchy sugar breakfast was a bunch of B.S.? How we were swayed by junk science!

    BTW, one of the most dental cavity causing substances in the North American diet today are Cheerios (mostly because they are heavily marketed to parents for the 3 and under crowd).

    Christine Lilge D.D.S. , B.Sc.

    Yeah, we fell for that “give your toddler Cheerios” stuff for awhile. That was before I started working on Fat Head, of course.

  18. Kristin

    Wow. That was a blast from the past. It has been years since I’ve seen TV commercials of any kind, let alone these umm…gems. My family always had a choice of eight different cereals and more than half of them were the Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Puffs variety. I loved Captain Crunch so much I’d make the top of my mouth raw munching them as a snack (not even the buffer of some fat or protein of milk.) No wonder I got so insulin resistant. When people say they don’t have to eat high fat to stay lean I just say they are lucky to not have a damaged system. This is one response they really can’t dispute since I’m keeping it to just me.

    I ate Cheerios and Grape Nuts up until last year and still miss them sometimes. I’m still talking my poor boyfriend into accepting that the ‘healthy’ organic whole grain cereals he subsists on when he is working late hours (writing software) is part of his ubiquitous belly. He is at the point where he sort of believes me…but hasn’t broken free yet. At least he puts full fat raw milk on it these days. It’s a process.

    Tell him I work late hours writing software without the benefit of hearthealthywholegrains. I was programming until nearly midnight last night, in fact.

    1. Kristin

      I write code for a living as well but now that I’m on LCHF I don’t snack anymore when I work. No need to.

      So with this in mind I mentioned your comment to him and was kind of surprised by the response. He was puzzled as to what you ate in the middle of the night to keep you going. I realized that with all my talking over the last year he had not really understood how different the body works when it runs off of fat. In response I sent him the link to Fathead time indexed to the segment on your one month experiment and that you fueled a tight deadline with it. It will be interesting to see if he is more motivated to give up the carbs if he internalizes that lots of energy and focus with no munchies could be a reward. He works as a senior research engineer at an SFO startup so he has those deadlines a lot.

      If I get hungry in the middle of the night (which I usually don’t), my snack of choice is a handful of dry-roasted almonds.

  19. Susan

    Maybe I’m misremembering in my old age, but it seems like some of the commercials showed not just cereal, toast, juice and milk, but eggs too in their depictions of a “balanced breakfast.” I used to look at them and think, MAYBE the eggs and toast OR the cereal (in my pre LCHF days), but good gracious, not both. I always figured that it was the inclusion of the eggs that allowed them to call those breakfasts “balanced.”

    I don’t remember seeing eggs in the “balanced breakfast” ads.

    1. JayInKett

      Susan, you’re not misremembering. I’m 48. I too remember seeing eggs (fried, sunny-side-up, to be specific) included with the “balanced breakfast.” Not on the TV ads, but on the verbiage printed on one of the side panels of the cereal boxes.

    2. Julie

      I was thinking the same thing, that I seem to remember eggs in the “balanced” breakfast. Hubby and I watched some of the commercials from the 90s when we were kids, and not a one of them had eggs. Although they almost always included a glass of milk. What’s up with that? Milk with your milk covered cereal?

      Well, they push wheat toast with your wheat cereal, so why not?

  20. SB

    And now the frosted mini wheats don’t bother with animals, they just stick a face and appendages on the cereal and call it a day. Lazy. My parents had a “less than 1g sugar” per serving rule. I didn’t like anything though b/c I could get good sugary junk elsewhere in the house. Then I grew up and bought my own cereal. Those were bad, hungry days. Of course I brought a bag of cereal to snack on at school. Vicious cycle, I tell ya.

    Yup, eating sugar creates cravings for sugar. Same goes for wheat.

  21. SB

    Also, does anyone actually enjoy Grape nuts? I remember being very disappointed with my first taste of those pebbles.

    I liked them back in the day.

    1. cTo

      I actually went through a phase of loving them right before I went paleo. I kept a box at work and would have two or three bowls a day. A coworker-friend of mine was also super into them, we would pick up boxes for each other when they went on sale.

      Then we both went paleo at the same time and have never looked back. We occasionally remember The Grape Nuts Days and laugh.

    2. Holly

      I remember sprinkling grape nuts on ice cream because of the crunch and because they were “healthy”.

  22. Ellen

    Ditto here for the person that said they would have milk left and add more cereal, and then you had to add more milk, on and on, I always did that! Then if I ate cereal not sweet enough for my taste like rice krispies or wheaties, I would add enough sugar that there would be some left in the bottom of the milk. My college dorm cafeteria had about 10 tubs of cereal available at every meal, which I ate a lot of when the dorm food was less than desirable.

    Of course as an adult trying to be healthy I started eating high fiber organic flax cereal, but then still had my cravings for cheetos and pepsi by 10am. Ugh, no wonder my metabolism was so screwed up by the time I was 40.

    Ahh, yes, I forgot about that sugary milk left in the bowl. I’d drink that.

    1. Austin Pitts

      Hahaha! I remember that nice pile of sugar at the bottom too! I think that was the only reason I choose to eat rices krispies over the other stuff.

  23. Peter

    Headline: Oily fish taken off menu for stopping more heart attacks

    From Onion? Sadly, it’s legit:

    Summary: Heart attack victims may no longer be advised to eat oily fish to prevent them from having another attack.

    The people who promote a “Mediterranean Diet” to prevent heart disease apparently have no idea what people in the Mediterranean regions actually eat.

    1. askmehowithappened

      Wow. That’s very upsetting. Reading the article it seems the only thing NICE actually got right is the fact that their current guidlines aren’t doing squat to stop heart disease in Great Britain.

      The brilliant solution is to remove the only healthy thing they advise people to eat? “Wow, eating this crap isn’t helping. Let’s start monkeying around and remove a few elements. Let’s see…sugary fruit? Nope. Bread? Nope. Only protein source we really allow them to indulge in? Perfect!”

    2. Paul B.

      I love the line where they advise replacing butter and cheese with “vegetable oil.” Because we all know a Mediterranean diet doesn’t have much cheese or butter, but lots of soy oil and corn oil.

      Sure, preferably from GMO crops.

  24. Janknitz

    Walk into any hospital and you’ll see a variation of that “balanced” breakfast (“healthy whole grain” cereal replacing the sugared stuff) on every diabetic and heart patient’s tray. If they’re lucky, there might even be an egg white omelette or a fruit cup, too.

    Well, if you run a hospital, you may as well serve foods that drum up business.

  25. Geoff

    I ate most of those…and several bowls in the morning. I also grew up in rural Colorado…so after breakfast I was outside running around until dusk…so never really affected me. So I have fond memories of these…loved cinnamon toast crunch…but I don’t eat cereal anymore… prefer bacon and sausage.

    I ran around too, but the sugar caught up with me.

  26. David Goulet

    Can you folks share what you do eat for breakast in lieu of cereals. Bacon and eggs, obviously. But what else constitutes a balanced breakfast in your house. Any grains at all? What kind of dairy? What’s your thoughts on non-milk milks (i.e. almond, coconut, oat) – I know soy is a no-no. If you aren’t lucky to have access to raw milk, what about kefir? Breakfast is a big deal for me, as I usually prepare it for my family and it really is the most important meal of the day for a school kid. I’d like to make sure they’re getting the ‘right stuff’.

    Feel free to point me to a sample menu link somewhere if you have one. Thanks.

    Speaking for myself, bacon, eggs, sausage, avocadoes, plus foods like these when Chareva makes them:

    1. Lori

      Re: milk-free milk, coconut milk (full-fat, unsweetened) is fine. Almond milk tends to have carrageenan, a thickener that’s also used to induce inflammation and sensitivity to pain in laboratory animals. It makes some people very ill. If your kids are over 12, you might give dairy a pass–it can cause acne. On the rare occasion I want more than a snack for breakfast, it’s bacon or eggs with mushrooms and black coffee.

    2. Bevie

      David if an opinion from a third party helps…

      A lot of times I just breakfast on leftover dinner. Easy and filling and no extra work to toss an extra burger or chop in the pan I am already cooking in. While I am fond of “breakfast foods” I see no reason to limit them to breakfast times, nor am I determined to keep “dinner foods” in their own corner of the day. And really, who wouldn’t do well in school after starting the day with stir fried sirloin?

      On the subject of non-milk, I use coconut milk or almond milk at times if I can find one without a bunch of additives, but that is only because I cannot drink real milk. For the family I decided that the stress and expense of chasing after every blessed miracle food available was more damaging than just getting the occasional gallon of plain ol’ grocery store milk. Or cream, when I come across a good quality one. My teenager will drink a carton of the real thing all by herself, and she is a lean, healthy, energetic … erm, strain on my maternal patience, to be candid, I should add strong willed and opinionated to that list. Hazards of raising a child to think for herself, I suppose.

      1. Mary D

        Having raised a trio of boys that “think for themselves” – a gentle reminder: behaviors that annoy Mom & Dad now will likely serve the child well as an adult. 🙂

        Well, I remember my mom chewing me out at age 12 because she caught me reading The Iliad under the covers with a flashlight when I supposed to be asleep.

    3. Chris

      I make omelettes with a couple of eggs, spinach, sausage, cheese, and red/green bell peppers every morning.

    4. Lori K


      Just remember this: Dinner– it’s what’s for breakfast!

      Breakfast was the most difficult meal for my husband to modify when we started eating primal/low carb. He was a cereal every day kinda guy. We now eat lots of eggs, but often it’s last night’s leftovers. Or I will make paleo pancakes on the weekend, or paleo blueberry muffins and berries & cream.
      I stopped eating cereal many years ago– I was always hungry a couple hours later. (now I know why!). Of course, the bagel and cream cheese that I ate instead wasn’t much better…

    5. SB

      For myself, I like coconut oil and half n half in my coffee, and sometimes some eggs and/or meat. My husband eats full fat plain yogurt w/ granola (either store bought w/ gluten free oats, or my homemade version w/ just ground up nuts, honey, vanilla, and coconut oil)

    6. Cyborcat

      I usually have scrambled eggs during the week (as I said elsewhere, I cook a big batch on the weekend and use it during the week as needed) with shredded cheese added. Usually on the weekends, I’ll have toast made with my version of the Almost Paleo Bread recipe with either butter and peanut butter or cream cheese on it.

      Lately, I’ve been making bacon and eggs for my husband and myself on the weekends beacause we’re in the process of moving and I figure we could use the extra fuel. And I’ve been including cheesy garlic buscuits (Kroger brand, where you just add water–surprisingly tasty) because my husband is a carb addict and has been missing them (I used to make them a lot back when I wasn’t concerned about carbs and additives). The buscuits obviously aren’t healthy, but I figure it’s okay to splurge once in awhile.

      (wow, I’m posting a lot of comments on this entry)

    7. mrfreddy

      Breakfast is simple for me: A big ole bowl of nada!

      Unless you count the cream in my coffee.

      I had some variation on bacon and eggs every day for the first several years of low carbing. Then I started messing around with intermittant fasting, only eating between 5 and 10 pm for over a year.

      I dumped that plan but never went back to eating breakfast. I’m not really hungry in the morning so I figure, why eat?

    8. Steve

      I usually do bulletproof coffee. In addition to bacon & eggs if I am eating I’ll make a hamburger patty, a small steak, or some sausages. My wife sometimes eats atkins or quest bar smothered in kerrygold butter or cream cheese.

  27. Jennifer Snow

    I actually didn’t eat that much cereal for breakfast as a kid, largely because I very rarely ate *breakfast* except on the weekends when my mom would make pancakes or similar. Not that I ate healthy food (except what mom cooked for dinner, which was usually pretty good)–a lot of the time I ate nothing, interspersed with stuffing myself with whatever junk I could get at the convenience store. Assuming I wasn’t actively being punished for some indiscretion by being denied food on purpose by my parents.

    Yeah, I was sick all the time. And starving–my strongest memory of my youth is of being sick and hungry and not being allowed to eat anything unless I escaped the apartment and bought it myself.

    Sorry to hear that.

  28. askmehowithappened

    My mother also had the rule about sugar’s place in the ingredient list. I think the only permitted cereals were Cherrios and Shredded Wheat–usually because those alternated being on sale. When we really didn’t have money, she’d make these horrific whole wheat pancakes, which were invariably burned on at least one side and usually still batter-y inside. No maple syrup–she’d “make her own” by cooking brown sugar a certain way. Few sugary snacks at lunch, and then usually homemade. Not much dessert, no soda. Sometimes some lemonaide in the summer, but very little juice, either. She also believed instinctively that there was something wrong with margarine–why would you eat a chemically derived spread when people had been eating butter for thousands of years without issue?

    We were very, very poor, so I know she couldn’t possibly afford to feed seven people eggs and bacon. I don’t begrudge that. And she burnt everything because she was trying to monitor four and later five children and get them all ready for school. And she never let us develop a strong sweet tooth, which I’ll always be grateful for. Cheerios and whole wheat garbage still made me fat and sick, but when I changed my diet in my late 30s my body started recovering and healing very quickly; no issues. I credit her with that. If she’d let me eat like my friends–Frankenberry and Pop Tarts and Little Debbie snack cakes–I don’t think the transition would have been so easy. I have friends who ate that way and are now trying to heal who are having a longer, tougher road to get there–all of them ate that kind of garbage growing up.

  29. cTo

    I had my early childhood in the 80s and my formative years in the 90s. Mom was at least smart enough to forbid the explicitly-sugared-or-candy-themed-cereals (unless it was a special occasion like going on a camping trip. My go-to then was Lucky Charms, because marshmallows) so I grew up on Kix and Crispix for most breakfasts. Oh, and of course, mom was terrified of fats, so we had nothing but non-fat milk to put on it.

    Not surprisingly, I spent most of my childhood fat, hungry, and with zero energy, to the point where I was sneaking food from the pantry on a regular basis.

  30. Ulfric Douglas

    My reply for David’s question ; “.. folks share what you do eat for breakast in lieu of cereals. Bacon and eggs, obviously. But what else constitutes a balanced breakfast in your house. Any grains at all? What kind of dairy? What’s your thoughts on non-milk milks”
    The word “obviously” is thrown in there to distract from you intention to NOT just have bacon and eggs most of the time? Danger.
    Just do bacon and eggs. Hey the nature of milk is neither here nor there if it’s not being added to crap in a bowl because it’s not bacon & eggs therefore not breakfast, but remember : non-milk milks are NOT milk, so don’t mention them, don’t buy them, just ignore them.
    “In lieu of cereals” only applies if you start from a point where cereals are the norm : again, ignore that stuff.
    🙂 and … eat when you’re hungry, not when the clock says wake up. You might not be doing “breakfast” after a while…

  31. Hilary Kyro

    At least the cartoon characters are honest in the depiction of the obnoxious behavior that accompanies sugar and grain consumption. The self-affirming Frosted Mini-wheat Man is Bipolar and proud of it! His wife is a slut full of real strawberries, who flirts with anyone who comes to their door with a pulse. No wonder Mini-Wheat needs lacto-morphine and gliadin to keep him company!
    My emaciated childhood friend was allowed to eat Apple Jacks so long as he took his prescription speed and sedatives. “Beans” & “Fruit” & Wheat & Sugar & Psychotic meds that left him talking to the Mrs. Butterworth bottle…unless, like Jennifer he was being denied food for stealing food, puking or asking for attention.
    Every morning can be like Long Days Journey into Night, if you obey your doctors and Mrs. Butterworth.
    Thank you and hugs to your family, for sharing your healing and hilarious message to millions of malnourished children who will learn to help themselves and misinformed adults. You’re a fat slice of The Solution.

    I remember those conversations with Mrs. Butterworth. She never told me there was no actual butter in her bottle.

  32. Rocky Angelucci

    Each week our family would go grocery shopping and when we got to the cereal aisle my parents would tell my brother and me to go pick few boxes of cereal. My parents frequently complained about the price of cereal, considering its primarily sugar content, but the nutritional harm was never an issue. My parents were involved, caring parents in every other regard, it’s just that other than “spoiling our dinner,” the nutritional merit of our diet just wasn’t often on the radar.

    And cereal wasn’t just for breakfast. Dry cereal, straight from the box, was a frequent after school snack while watching Gilligan’s Island or Get Smart.

    To the commenter wondering what a typical breakfast now would be when LCHF, one of our favorite fast and easy breakfast is our version of migas: pastured eggs scrambled in coconut oil with sliced avocado, some cheese, and whatever veggies we have laying around.

    Same with my parents. It just never occurred to them that Captain Crunch might be bad for us.

  33. PHK

    that is awfully lot of sugar & calories for near nil nutritional value.

    good that i didn’t grow up having cereal. never liked it. it was not satisfying; i just got hungry in 2 hours (i figured this out even before i switch my diet to PHD/WP/paleo-ish)

    a colleague eats a full cup of dry cheerio as breakfast @ work. i don’t know how anyone can eat that much cardboard. no wonder he has bad teeth but i keep my mouth shut.

    Back in my youth (so many years ago), we solved the issue with tasteless cereals like Cheereos and Shredded Wheat: we dumped sugar on them.

  34. Molly56

    I was my Dad’s caretaker in his last two years of life; it was unfortunately too late to save him from his undiagnosed and of course untreated (up to then) diabetes. I had to learn at first of course to inject insulin and monitor his blood sugar, and was told (as all are) that if BG got too low and if he was in danger of passing out, to feed him a bit of maple syrup to bring it back to normal.

    Well, I found out that a tablespoon of plain orange juice was quicker. I know because I watched the sugar rise almost immediately and the meter was there to prove it.

    Sadly, though I was able to reduce drastically the amount of insulin needed, he was so ill by then that he eventually passed away at 84. I knew about low carb and fed him that way, but didn’t know as much as I know now. They also fed him statins though he thankfully refused them after about a month but much damage, I think now, was already done.

    I’m sorry to hear about your father.

  35. Ruth

    We only had the lower-sugar cereals in the house, but of course I added sugar on top of those. Every morning I had cereal and toast, but I put a TON of (real) butter on the toast, so maybe that helped to balance things out a bit.

    Our lunches and dinners were actually fairly low-carb, now that I look back on it. We rarely ate bread apart from at breakfast, and never ate pasta because my father had bad memories of having to eat it while serving in WWII. He called it “paste” in the most contemptuous tone!

    And my mother wouldn’t buy the newer convenience foods that were coming on the market because she said they were a waste of money.

    I eat low-carb now, but what I’ve actually done is go back to the way I was brought up to eat (minus the cereal and toast breakfasts).

    Funny to have come full circle.

    I suspect there were a lot of families like yours, at least until the anti-fat, anti-cholesterol hysteria kicked in. It was a common belief that too much sugar and starch would make you fat. I still remember when the “waist trimmer” meal at a restaurant was a burger patty, slice of tomato and cottage cheese.

    1. Steve

      Almost forgot about the sugar bowl. You could make your own frosted flakes out of corn flakes. Well, sort of.

  36. Paul B.

    How can we not mention granola cereals in a thread about breakfast horrors? I guess some people still have the delusion that granola is healthy. I ate tons of it when I was a kid. (My favorite was Heartland, not sure if it is still made as I avoid the cereal aisle in the grocery store. It, like all granola cereals, was loaded with sugar. And yes I was a fat kid.)

    I have to laugh at the tiny portions of granola that are considered one “serving” in order to mislead people about the calorie content. Once I saw some “Bear Naked” granola in the check out line. 150 calories per serving which I thought wasn’t bad. Then I saw that a “serving” was a quarter cup! Not even enough to cover the bottom of a cereal bowl. Who the hell eats a quarter cup of granola cereal? A full bowl is probably 5 or 6 servings. If you eat 2 full bowls (lots of people do) you might as well buy an insulin pump with your granola.

    I fell for that pitch as a lad. I liked Quaker 100% Natural.

  37. Karen T

    I remember the songs more than the commercials . . . funny to see Brian Austin Green (of 90210 fame) and Mark Paul Gosselaar (of Saved By the Bell fame) as little kids in these old videos! Thanks for the walk down memory lane, and for all you do via your movie and blog.

    I didn’t recognize either of them, but I didn’t watch those shows.

  38. Pierson

    Tom, did you remove your DVD from Netflix? I can’t find it.

    It was a two-year license. We’re hoping they’ll take the Director’s Cut next.

  39. Namu

    Here in France the (exact same brands of) cereals’ package indicate that a regular serving is just 30 grams. Being a curious kid, I once tried weighing my usual breakfast – it was around 120 grams of cereals. And I sometimes needed seconds.

  40. Carole W

    I confess that I missed the relative ease of breakfast cereal until recently. My young nephew stayed with us for a couple of days, and wanted his usual Cheerios for breakfast — we had to take him to school, and I was afraid he wouldn’t eat our usual LCHF offerings, but didn’t want him to be hungry — so we got a box. My three kids, of course, wanted some too, and I thought, what the heck, it’s two days, no big deal. Easy breakfast. (Ha!)

    So, yes, the breakfast itself was easy. Pour cereal, pour milk, supply spoon. I didn’t add any sugar or honey or sweetener of any kind, just whole milk. But then we dropped off my nephew at school, and it began. My kids were hungry EVERY 30 MINUTES, pretty much all day long, both days! Regardless of the fact that we went back to our usual LCHF snacks and meals. They just could not get satisfied after starting out with that cereal.

    Ugh. Consider me chastened, and re-convinced of the importance of a TRULY healthy breakfast! 🙂

    Eating wheat just makes you want more of the stuff.

    1. Walter Bushell

      I read somewhere I can’t find that “The green revolution was the biggest mistake since the domestication of wheat.”

  41. TBM

    Listen to this guy. Dr Neil Barnard. Firstly he looks really thin. I mean virtually anorexic.

    He’s saying that fat -any kind of fat – somehow causes diabetes by acting as the “chewing gum in the lock” that prevents the key, glucose, from getting into the cell. Fat blocks insulin from carrying the sugar into the cell? Maybe you can make more sense of it than me. It sounds like quackery.

    I mean he has to be basing it on something right? As a doctor it has to be based on some research, even if it was poorly done or misunderstood. I know he’s a vegan and does have the agenda of promoting that lifestyle, but it is difficult to believe that he’d knowingly lie, because it’s sounds like he’s at least convinced himself. As as he’s written books on the subject, he surely does cite something – anything – to back himself up.


    It’s quackery. He’s a psychiatrist and a vegan zealot who’s rather selective about his facts. In one of his talks, he urged people to eat low-glycemic foods to avoid diabetes, but of course only highlighted low-glycemic vegetarian foods and never mentioned that meat has a glycemic index of close to zero.

    1. TBM

      He does himself no favours comparing cheese to Vaseline.

      I bet he’d say his meals doesn’t need dairy to reduce fat’s bio-availability because his meals have no fat to begin with!

      Zealot is right, because when one hears people like Caldwell Esselstyn shout “NO OIL! NO OIL! NO OIL!” He comes across as not a scientist, but some kind of religious demagogue, chanting to the faithful on the march towards Zion.

      And on a related tangent, check this out:

      In a nice heart logo too. But the question is, how does one reduce butter’s saturate content by 87% and have it retain the solid consistency of butter. They don’t actually say this on the packet or in the ingredients, but the answer has to be hydrogenated vegetable oil. Trans fat.

      Yet they’ve got a section where they talk about lowering cholesterol.

      From which I quote:
      “Minimise intake of trans fats (in cakes, pastries, meat and butter)”

      The hypocrisy would be laughable were it not contributing to death.

  42. Scarlet

    I’m lucky that my parents were staunchly against sugar while I was growing up. Exceptions were made for holidays when we were allowed dessert or candy, but they regarded eating sugary cereal for breakfast as deranged. Still, they did end up believing that saturated fat was a no-no when the idea was increasingly promulgated in the eighties and nineties. They also believed that 100% natural fruit juice was not problematic. I disagree now, but I did continue drinking juice well into my twenties because I thought only sugar-added beverages were the issue.

    My parents bought “better” cereals like Grape Nuts, Shredded Wheat, and Uncle Sam’s. Now that I’m an adult, I tend to think these were only marginally better. They might not have had sugar, but they were still highly processed foods. All that said, I’ve never thought anyone would sit down to a giant bowl of cereal and decide to accompany it with several slices of toast, as well as juice, as well as an additional glass of milk. That’s nauseating, and even as a little kid in the eighties I would snicker at the contention this formed a “balanced breakfast.”

    Due to the nutritional brainwashing I was subject to in adolescence, I spent decades wary of eggs, butter, milk, meat, avocados, coconut. I was told all those foods were dangerous, and I did not (back then) have access to the internet or other resources that would have allowed me to investigate the conventional wisdom. I’m 37 now and only just in the last few years have I begun to seriously question the garbage I was told to eat: vegetable oils, skim milk, low-fat cheese, egg white scrambles, highly-processed soy “meats.” Thank goodness I never had a taste for most junk food like candy, soda, and chips or I would be in worse shape. The “healthy” food has been had enough. I now have a super-slow metabolism from restricting. I have gluten sensitivity. I have gone from perfect teeth to having small cavities filled every year. My bloodwork shows vitamin deficiencies. Of course, my doctor says limit meat, avoid any full fat dairy, avoid eggs. She says this even though I have low cholesterol and B12 and D deficiency. This madness needs to end.

  43. Scarlet

    A second comment to add what I do eat for breakfast now.

    It varies, but I generally try to scramble two pastured eggs with a bit of cheese or cottage cheese. I use grass-fed butter to cook them. I eat these with sauteed spinach or zucchini or some berries or maybe a small cluster of grapes. (Grapes and berries I try to buy organic.) I will also have two shots of espresso in a cup of milk. I heat and froth the milk in cold weather; otherwise, I pour the milk and espresso together over ice. I can’t buy raw milk in my state, but I do buy low-temp pasteurized milk from local grass-fed cows. And that is whole milk. I will never go back to skim.

    I actually am not overly fond of the taste of eggs, but I have a history of disordered eating and am clearly orthorexic so I realize I just need to get over it. I still have anxiety about eating all the foods I was told were “bad.”


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