Bad breakfast choices seem to be everywhere these days. I walked into my local gas station recently and discovered Dunkin Donuts opened a brand new express counter. Shiny everything, great bargains, bright colors, variety of new seasonal donuts, bagels, sandwiches, and coffees. Well I think we get it. You’re doing quite well Dunkin. The business of selling processed flour and sugar in thousands of different combinations is booming. The 20 different kinds of donuts, 15 varieties of bagels, 10 kinds of muffins, and other assorted baked goods all have the same first ingredient. Enriched wheat flour. Let’s be clear. This stuff is bad for you. It makes you gain weight quickly, is nearly devoid of any nutrients, protein, and fiber, and it seems to be a bit addictive (more on that later).
You look for breakfast foods at the supermarket and there’s more of it. Pop Tart’s first ingredient? Enriched wheat flour. Most breads, cereals, and cereal/granola bars? Same thing. This flour that they’re using comes from the grain called wheat. Wheat is a plant that has 3 parts. The bran, the germ, and the endosperm. The bran and germ have the fiber, protein, and other nutrients that your body needs. The endosperm? Not so much. But the endosperm has won in corporate America’s taste tests. And more importantly, it last longer on shelves. So removing the bran and germ from wheat flour is the business choice that food companies have made during the 20th century to sell more of their products without having to worry so much about expiration dates. Hopefully you have realized by now that multinational food corporations are in the business of selling more food products and increasing profits. Providing the healthiest choices has not been the more profitable way to do things.
Now back to that addictive stuff. Enriched wheat flour has not yet been scientifically proven to be addictive, like say, nicotine or cocaine. However, it has been scientifically proven that fiber keeps you feeling full. So what happens when you eat that pretty orange and purple frosted pumpkin autumn harvest donut in less than 120 seconds? Well, your body doesn’t feel very full. Even though you ate a tasty combination of enriched wheat flour, processed white sugar, and oil, you got less than 1 gram of fiber. So you’ve consumed four hundred something calories, and you’re not really full at all. It takes around 20 minutes for your brain to realize that your stomach feels full after eating, depending on what you ate. So, still hungry, you reach for a 2nd donut. Well, you just ate around 900 calories for breakfast, almost no protein or fiber, and no vitamins. Oops.
Let’s make a pact. For the next 14 days, take an 8 second glance at the ingredients of everything you eat for breakfast. This includes food shopping for breakfast items too- at the supermarket, farmers market, or specialty food store. To uphold the pact, don’t eat or even buy any breakfast foods with any of the first 5 ingredients as enriched wheat flour. You’ll get a healthier start to your day, even if it’s just that 1 first meal.
What foods will you avoid? Any surprises?