Trying to find a balanced breakfast that doesn’t taste like cardboard
In my pursuit of a long, healthy life, I’m trying to adopt as many good habits as possible. I exercise. I meditate. I levitate. I avoid family arguments, especially when they involve politics. (Stress is a killer.) I try to get eight hours of sleep, but sometimes I find myself wandering the halls at night, howling at the moon. I drink large quantities of green tea, white tea and matcha tea. I’m even cutting down on processed sugar although my addiction to Mike and Ike candy, not to mention peanut butter cups, makes that a bit difficult.
My wife, who heartily endorses my self-improvement campaign, recently gave me some good advice. She said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I, on the other hand, always believed bedtime snacks like Cheetos were the most important meal.
For much of my life, I began the day with nothing more than a cup of coffee, which usually turned into a pot of coffee. So for my New Year’s resolution, I vowed to start eating a bowl of cereal in the morning, especially after I read that Dr. Oz said whole grains do miracles for your health, although I could never differentiate between whole grains, half grains and quarter grains.
I set out to find the perfect brand of breakfast cereal and quickly discovered there are countless choices, stacked up in bewildering displays at the supermarket. Walking down that aisle reminded me of my childhood in Pine Rock Park, when I started my day with sugary concoctions that left me bouncing off the seat of the school bus.
There was the ever-popular Lucky Charms, which contained colorful marshmallows. (I ate the marshmallows and tossed the cereal.) Cocoa Puffs were another favorite, followed by a General Mills’ creation called Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs. All things considered, I’m surprised I made it to adulthood with my teeth intact.
Being older and wiser — well, at least older — I passed by those selections when I went grocery shopping, even though the thought crossed my mind to buy them for my grandson, who still has his baby teeth, which, as you know, are expendable.
In my search for the perfect breakfast cereal, I studied the ingredients and nutritional information on the boxes. But who cares about nutrition when you have a sweet tooth? Some people can’t pick up the first drink, I can’t pick up the first spoonful of Lucky Charms.
Since oats are supposed to be good for your heart and help lower cholesterol, I decided that oats were the way to go, which meant I needed a brand like Cheerios — not to be confused with Cheetos.
I confess that I never liked that brand because it doesn’t have any added sugar, and the thought of sitting at the breakfast table staring at a bowl of unsweetened oats without marshmallows, chocolate or Reese’s peanut butter was a horrifying one. I decided to compromise and bought Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Golden Grahams, made from graham crackers, which are one of the five basic food groups, along with fruits, vegetables, fish and potato chips.
When I got home, my wife looked inside the grocery bag, which I paid 10 cents for in tribute to Governor Lamont and Greta Thunberg, and asked, “Why did you buy these?”
“For their nutritional value,” I promptly responded.
“Do you know how much sugar is in this cereal?” she asked. I felt like I was being interrogated on the Dr. Oz show.
“Don’t lecture me,” I told her. “Let she who is without sin cast the first stone. Did you forget that you grew up eating Stella D’oro cookies for breakfast? The ones with Swiss fudge in the middle!”
I was perilously close to violating one of the basic principles of a long, healthy life: “Avoid family arguments.”
The good news is that on my trip back to the supermarket to return the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I discovered a brand called Cheerios Cinnamon Oat Crunch. A new day is dawning.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.