Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Raising the Bar on Breakfast

When you read the newspaper, do you expect the articles and bylined columns to be news or cleverly disguised advertisements?

If you're like me, you expect news or newsworthy information. Too often, in newspapers across the country, you're likely to find items that read like advertisements for a number of products on the market with the newspaper seeming to promote your purchase of such items.

Case in point - in today's Washington Post, Sally Squires' Lean Plate Club column offers readers Passing the Bar On Nutrition - a review of the various breakfast bars available in the marketplace.

Breakfast bars made by Kellogg's, Post, General Mills, Quaker, Kraft and other companies offer a fast-food option to those eating on the run in the morning. Found just down the grocery aisle from their cereal cousins, many are fortified with enough vitamins to rival a multivitamin. To make up for the missing milk, some bars also contain plenty of calcium.

This wasn't merely a 'just the facts' approach to provide information to readers about the existence of such products and the pros and cons of such products - this article named which ones tasted good and made recommendations to readers of the column.

Unfortunately, the article didn't simply state that the breakfast bars are nutritionally poor and just another junk food option you should pass on. Sally Squires actually recommended you eat more than one if the breakfast bar is your option since one may not last until lunch!

Plan on More Than One. The bars will help take the edge off your hunger, but they probably don't have enough calories to hold you until lunch. So either eat more than one bar or have a bar as part of breakfast that includes milk or a cup of low-fat yogurt and some fruit.

While taste testers basically agreed the breakfast bars were too sweet, Ms. Squires enlisted the opinion of an "expert" to encourage readers to eat them. Even so, eating a cereal bar in the morning "is better than eating nothing at all," said registered dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Study after study shows the benefit of breakfast."

Yes, there is a benefit to eating breakfast...but quite frankly something that is nothing more than a candy bar in disguise is not breakfast. Ms. Jamieson-Petonic should have stated such and made a recommendation about the benefit of a wholesome breakfast. Instead, she offered nothing more than an endorsement to these various products that are unhealthy, made by companies that support the American Dietetic Association.

Even Ms. Squires idea of a breakfast is nutritionally bankrupt - just have the real thing: a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk and fruit, which can match or exceed the nutritional value of a cereal bar.

While such a breakfast may indeed be better than the breakfast bar, it remains inadequate and will most likely not keep your sated until lunch.

A better option:

Florentine omelete (2 eggs, 1/4 cup spinach, 1-ounce swiss cooked in olive oil)
1-ounce uncured Canadian Bacon
1/2 cup cut canteloupe with 1/3 cup blueberries

Now that's a breakfast to get you started for the day!

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