PATTERN. [GMT-7 LOS ANGELES]
After staring at my computer screen for several seconds, I started to panic. I had just checked Gmail, then Facebook, then Twitter successively, with no further plan. To do so again in such a short amount of time would constitute madness, so to throw myself a curve ball and hopefully derail my inevitable typing of the letter “g” into my Firefox URL bar, I found myself Googling “I can’t stop eating cereal” instead. The results were surprising: all 4,910,000 of them.
This post contains a lot of links, only given to display the impressive number of these cereal addiction cases — so no need to click on all or any of them. Google came up with plenty of sources, but cited the UK and US versions of Answers.com as the top two results. There, I found myriads of concerned consumers (consumers in the “I down a whole box in one sitting” sense of the word) who had feelings ranging from mild fear to overwhelming guilt about their breakfast cereal consumption and inability to stop. Most of the voted upon “answers” were of course overwhelmingly unhelpful, both the sympathetic (“When I was pregnant I ate like a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch every day!”) or the, well, assholes (“Well…. that stinks”). Thankfully, there is some actual advice given at more weight-loss oriented sites.
Truth is, like any addiction, the best way to overcome it is to not give yourself the option of relapsing. Do not buy yourself cereal. Do not have milk in the house. If you think that may be too harsh, you can try keeping only one kind of cereal in the house. The lack of variety will help you from going back to it again and again. A third option would be to restrict any sort of eating after a certain time, say, 10pm, or only allow one bowl a day. The more black and white the rules, the easier it will be to follow them. The only danger is yo-yoing. I’ve gone without cereal for a few days only to bring home a box of Cheerios and down 5 in a day.
Yo-yoing can be used for good effect, however, if you are trying to build muscle or doing intense exercise. If you plan on cutting carbs one day, and know that an inevitable flood of CTC (Cinnamon Toast Crunch) will be soon entering your mouth the next, try to plan those bowls after your workout.
Let’s not be too hard on ourselves. Cereal is so amazing. The reason why it’s easy to keep eating is because a) there is huge variety. Sure, it’s basically made from the same stuff, and it all tastes like cereal, but as long as there are puffs, flakes, grains, crunch, pebbles, Charms, wheats, oats, bran, and O’s, there will always be something craveable for the next meal. b) It’s easy. No cooking required, and nothing to heat. c) Few people still believe that cereal is good for you, despite the Lucky Charms boxes that blare “Whole Grains” at you in bright blue, but the truth is, it’s not bad enough that eating it constantly will cause disease. Depending on your poison of choice, there is enough fiber, fortified (artificially added) vitamins, and sometimes protein to poorly mimic a balanced diet. The problem is that excessive use will inhibit any chance at weight loss — the sugar will cause insulin spikes and the carbs may leave you lethargic and increase cravings and hunger later on in the day.
All this aside, I will never stop eating cereal. I will try, I will fail. I will stop trying.
Writing this article has made me hungry. There is a box of Corn Flakes in the cupboard, a half gallon left of skim milk in the fridge, and I went to the gym today. I’ll be in the kitchen.
The Best and Worst Cereals For You by Men’s Health, in case you just want to go crazy with those Grape-Nuts.