As some of my close friends could attest, up to a year after my return from living in rural Nicaragua, a trip to a supermarket was traumatic for me; I would become catatonic after a simple trip down the breakfast aisle at the local grocery store. There were just so many boxes, so much stuff to read and way too many choices. It took me several years and a lot of research to realize that in spite of all those apparent choices, with most any purchase of cereal, I was handing money over to one of four global food corporations.

According to Food and Water Watch, Kellogg Co., General Mills, PepsiCo and Post Foods control 79.9 percent of cereal sales, making shoppers hard pressed to find a box of cereal that is not owned by one of these big manufacturers. So, guess what? As long as our hard-earned dollars are primarily going to huge food companies, the real “choices” we are left with in the cereal aisle are more about how much sugar, artificial flavorings and pesticides we want to ingest first thing in the morning.

Nutritionally, most of the cereals that populate the breakfast aisles of grocery stores are loaded with highly refined carbohydrates that may satisfy you for a couple of hours, but lack enough grams of protein to get you past 11am. I am a big advocate for a good, high protein breakfasts. Moreover, most cereals are made with corn or wheat, two grains that dominate a nutritionist’s list of common allergens, and the farmers’ lists of crops needing the highest quantities of pesticides. To learn more about the cereals’ typical ingredients, see: Do I know what I’m eating?

I don’t watch a lot of broadcast television – so I have been isolated from most of the marketing that TV-watching-consumers see daily… but I have been taken in by more than one supermarket display…. The displays at the ends of the aisles (I call them end-caps) in supermarkets are highly valued supermarket real estate; these end-cap displays encourage impulse purchases.

Think about it – items offered on end-caps are not lined up with other options – so you as a consumer no longer have the handy capacity to compare prices with similar products. More than once my assumption has been that items displayed on end-caps are sale items and the best deal. According to Food and Water Watch, more than one-sixth of grocery purchases are tied to brand display advertisements, which are typically some of the most expensive items.

When it comes to breakfast don’t be taken in by marketing campaigns sponsored by one of 4 major food industries. Here are some basic rules:

  1. Eat breakfast.
  2. Make sure that protein is featured in your breakfast.
  3. Limit added sugars in your breakfast choices.
  4. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking.
  5. Drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages only after you have “broken your fast” (I always advice to ensure that there is at least some kind of food in your stomach before taking in caffeine).

To find out more about why I give this advice, subscribe to my blog.