Gluten Free For Good


 

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Nancy Drew here.

You might recall that I’m pretty famous for solving mysteries. I’ve got a baffling, whodunit on my hands and have been doing some investigating. Now I need your help in solving the case.

Would you consider the following ingredients to be wholesome?

So there’s no confusion, here’s a good description of what the word wholesome means, straight from The New Oxford American Dictionary. Word for word.

Wholesome – conducive to or suggestive of good health and physical well-being: the food is plentiful and very wholesome. (New Oxford American Dictionary.)

Here’s the list.

INGREDIENTS: RICE, SUGAR, HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (COCONUT AND PALM KERNEL OIL), SALT, CONTAINS LESS THAN 5% OF NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, RED 40, YELLOW 6, TURMERIC OLEORESIN (COLOR), BLUE 1, YELLOW 5, BLUE 2, BHA (TO HELP PROTECT FLAVOR).

By the way, I’m not trying to make a point with that capital-letter-yelling-thing. It was capitalized on the box, so I figured I better honor the formatting of the document. I want to be objective (okay, that’s probably impossible) and fair (hopefully). The “fair” part is important in getting honest answers, especially when you’re a famous detective. Not to mention a cute, cultural icon.

Does that list represent wholesome? I’m wondering because right next to the list of ingredients on the website’s nutrition information is the declaration that this is a “wholesome, sweetened, rice cereal.” They even advertise it as wholesome in CAPITAL letters on the front of the cereal box. Right next to (you guessed it, in all caps) “excellent source of vitamin D.” I’m not going to go into depth about the vitamins added because I don’t know enough about vitamin A palmitate or the vitamin D they added. Vitamin A palmitate is the synthetic form of vitamin A and although I did find some potentially negative side effects associated with it, I don’t have enough information to comment on it. Having said that, I’ve always felt that it’s much better to get your nutrients from fresh, whole (preferably organic) foods, which are honestly WHOLESOME.

Back to that word as it relates to the advertising of this cereal.

Wholesome?

Really?

Are you SERIOUS? (that was yelling.)

By what standards? This is a giant leap if I’ve ever seen one. It doesn’t take a detective to figure this one out.

I took these photos, but didn’t paste those styrofoam-ish, neon-colored, perfume-smelling, creepy-crawly things onto the side of the bowl. They struck out on their own. Wonder if they were trying to escape the organic milk?

Okay, bottom line?

This is awful. It breaks my heart to think little kids are being fed this stuff then sent off to school and forced to sit still and attempt to learn. Kids with food intolerances are more likely to suffer from ADD-like symptoms. Factor in dyes, additives, chemicals and sugar and they are at such a disadvantage. It’s sad. The ingredients in this box are not nourishing building blocks for growing children. I’ve often thought the gluten-free community was lucky NOT to have all these low-grade, processed food choices. It took some time, but the Standard American Diet (SAD) is making its way into the gluten-free community. In my mind, that’s not something to celebrate.

Okay, enough ranting. Looking on the bright side, this gives us more reason to learn, become aware and equip ourselves with the knowledge we need to make smart choices.

My conclusion? This cereal is about as far from WHOLESOME as you can get. Marketing this stuff to kids with brightly colored boxes, cartoon characters, games and toys is beyond icky. But we do have free choice. We can think for ourselves.

Don’t buy it. Don’t eat food that looks like dried out crayon shavings. You’re the boss of your food. Period.

Oh, I almost forgot about my original question. So, what do you think? Wholesome or not?

Peace, love and well-nourished kids!
P.S. Don’t eat cereal that dyes your milk lavender and lime green.

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43 Responses to “the secret of the gluten-free sugar cereal”

  1. stephanie a. says:

    My reaction to that kind of stuff is similar to yours. Don’t eat things that look like crayon shavings. Good rule of thumb : )

    • Melissa says:

      Stephanie,

      I think we’re all on the same page with this. Wonder if Michael Pollan might want to include my “don’t eat things that look like crayon shavings” in his next “Food Rules” book. Like you said, it’s a good rule of thumb. =)

  2. Alta says:

    Yeah, the smell of that stuff turns my stomach. Blech.

  3. Tia says:

    That stuff is so gross. I didn’t even like it when I was a kid and loved those horrible for you cereals. When I would go to my grandparents and get my choice of whatever cereal I wanted for the weekend, I always passed that one up. It would leave that nasty coating on the roof of your mouth. OK, I will stop.

    This is a great post, though. I think sometimes people are so busy that they don’t really stop to think about what they are being told. They just take it for granted that the big companies are being truthful.

    And, my husband hates that the word wholesome is used with all of these horrible foods (using that term liberally). He says it’s too ambiguous, and I agree. He will rant for hours about it.

    Anyway… off to make some REALLY wholesome food. (Yes, I was yelling.)

    xoxo,
    Tia

    • Melissa says:

      Tia,

      YELL away. I totally agree with you and I’m sure your husband’s ranting would be completely agreeable as well. We’re all on the same wavelength with this and probably just yelling to the choir. =)

      Wholesome is an interesting word and yes, a bit ambiguous, but who considers food dyes to be wholesome? Or sugar? Or preservatives? That’s not just a “stretch” — it’s an out and out lie. It’s just plain sad that those companies put profit over ethics.

      Thanks for your comment! I do appreciate it.

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Allergized. Allergized said: the secret of the gluten-free fruity funk cereal | Gluten Free For …: Nancy Drew here. You might recall that I… http://bit.ly/eWr5BX [...]

  5. I LOVE this post Melissa!

    It saddens me to think that products such as this are exactly what I grew up on. Not only do I strongly believe that the chemical additives were contributing factors in the gradual decline of my health, but they biased my taste buds against accepting real whole foods which weren’t as sickeningly sweet or neon colored. I’m finally overcoming this, but it has taken years of hard work to get here.

    It ANGERS me that the labels on these packages are so utterly deceitful, taking advantage of people who just don’t know any better.

    Ugh!

    Thanks for doing what you do my dear, you are so appreciated!!

    xo,
    Heidi

    • Melissa says:

      Heidi-girl,

      Thanks so much. Bummer, I’m sorry you grew up on this junk, but look at you now! My gosh, you are on a mission and all your hard work is paying off! Your kids will benefit by what you’ve experienced and all you’re learning. Keep fighting the good fight!

  6. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shirley Braden. Shirley Braden said: RT @GFMelissa: the secret of the gluten-free fruity funk cereal http://t.co/JHY9Aq5 via @AddThis [...]

  7. Melissa, first off, thank you SO much for including my Vegan French Toast in this hysterical post!! Too cool! ;) You keep me in stitches with each new journey you take us on. This one captures my heart because around my house I am known as a Breakfast Nazi. I am hard-core about what goes in my kids mouths to feed their brains before heading off to school. A bowl of cereal (unless it is my home-made granola) is not even an option on the Maes Menu. I like them to have something that will keep that blood sugar nice and even until snack time.
    It makes me so sad to know what many kids in our nation are being sent off to school with. How can they focus? How do they learn? It does not take that long to make something healthy in the morning.
    This morning my kids had Scrambled farm fresh eggs from our neighbor with some spinach mixed in, a greens and kefir smoothie, and a muffin made with almond flour. It only took less than 15 minutes to make it all (made the smoothie while the eggs were cooking and muffins were made this week and stashed in the freezer for quick morning snacks). Surely parents can find an extra 15 minutes in the morning? Make a bunch of things on the weekend and freeze them for quick re-heats in the mornings.
    Okay…stepping off the box now. Sorry! ;) Just meant to say AWESOME post. Got a bit carried away! LOL

    • Melissa says:

      Kim,

      No problem! Your vegan French toast looks amazing. I can only imagine how healthy the Maes Menu is. It’s tough for moms who don’t have the tools or time to put together healthy meals for breakfast, but with a little guidance, it’s possible. Like you said, it doesn’t take long once you get into the habit and know what to prepare. Great, informative comment! Your soapbox is welcome here anytime! xo

  8. Christi S says:

    My seven year old (who would happily sit down with a bowl of sugar and a spoon) won’t eat these because “they get soggy too fast and stick to the sides of the bowl.” He will eat Chex but only with added sugar (I felt the same at that age though).

    They are kindof cool though in rice crispy treats – which don’t pretend to be healthy.

    • Melissa says:

      Christi,

      You can’t blame kids for wanting the sweet, sweet cereal with the cool cartoons on the box! Very funny about your 7 year old not liking the fact that the pebbles stick to the side of the bowl. I was really surprised about that. It was like they started climbing up the sides. Weird! Thanks for your comment.

  9. I agree; this type of food is pretty scary. Just about anything you cooked yourself would be more healthful than than this.

    • Melissa says:

      Kalyn,

      Scary, indeed. And you’re right, almost anything prepared at home would be better than this. Love your egg muffins!

  10. Kay says:

    I am loving my whole food diet! Two ingredients = one too many. I also think breakfast cereals in general have contributed to our current national health crisis. They are NOT the breakfast of champions. Eat some protein! Eat some vegetables! Eat some fruit!

    • Melissa says:

      Kay,

      Oooh, wish I had thought of that “breakfast of champion” thing. Very good! Whole foods are so much better at supplying us with the building blocks we need to thrive. I can only imagine how wonderful your breakfasts are with fresh eggs a few steps away!

  11. Hey Melissa,

    I wholeheartedly support your boycott of neon cereal!

    As a child, my mother would never buy it for us. The woman had nerves of steel – she somehow tuned out our incessant (and undoubtedly incredibly annoying) pleas. At the time, I resented that “other kids” got to eat sugary stuff. Now that I am a mom, I am so grateful she was a hard-ass about it.

    It’s really hard though. It’s everywhere: school, playdates, and birthday parties. It used to be that we had a good excuse for not eating that way because we have food intolerances and GF alternatives ceased to exist. But, sadly, products like this will change the face of GF/allergic eating. It’s such a tragedy. I, right along with you, Heidi and Kim am voting with my wallet!

    Peace out
    Stephanie

    • Melissa says:

      Stephanie,

      I’m old enough to have almost missed this nasty food phenomenon. I’ve never eaten any of this type of cereal. I don’t even remember cereal ever being served when I was a kid. Maybe, but I doubt it was often. We had eggs, fruit, muffins — stuff that my mom cooked. And I never bought school lunches either. I’m so glad. My kids are grown now, but I don’t recall it being as prevalent when they were kids as it is now. I suppose so as they aren’t that old, but they never seemed to mind. I feel bad for you moms dealing with the bombardment of advertising directed to kids. It’s sad and you do have to have “nerves of steel” to ignore the whining. =)

  12. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amy Myers, M.D.. Amy Myers, M.D. said: RT @GFMelissa: Really? Is this food fit for kids? http://t.co/F0zt6Qm via @AddThis [...]

  13. Emily Butler says:

    Great detective work, Melissa!

    Food dyes are associated with ADHD and ADD which are widespread disorders for children today.

    As a holistic health counselor I encourage families to choose REAL, whole foods. If we give them a chance we find that kids actually WANT to eat healthy foods in fun ways. They want to be involved.

    Here is a GREAT resource for how to invite your kids to become food detectives. Its a program started by doctor David Katz, MD and kids love it!

    http://www.davidkatzmd.com/nutritiondetectives.aspx

    Health to all!

    Emily

    • Melissa says:

      Emily,

      Thanks! Yes, what you feed kids impacts their attention spans, behavior, etc. I’m with you on the REAL, whole foods. And if you get kids involved in cooking and preparing meals, they’ll eat almost anything. =) Thanks for the link. Good information!

  14. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    As a rule of thumb I don’t eat anything neon blue….. now you’d think everyone would say the same regardless but I’ve seen many a cake that has thick blue icing or synthetic cream. How can people bring themselves to eat something so far removed from real food?

    So definitely not wholesome…. who knows though, cut out the middle man and set fire to the wretched stuff and maybe we’ll have saved the world and created a new fuel :)

    Cid

    p.s. Kids, eating blue stuff is probably bad for you so don’t do it…. and setting to fire to stuff is a bad idea too usually so don’t do that either unless you’re with the lovely Mr Ray Mears or someone else equally qualified in the outdoor survival arts.

  15. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    Love your disclaimer at the bottom. That’s about what it’s come to in this day and age. As for the “lovely Mr. Ray Mears” — we’ve gotten off track with our nerdy crushes on farmers, gardens, chefs and outdoorsmen. Thanks for the reminder.

    :-)

    Well, I hate to admit it, but I’ve eaten colored frosting in the past. No colored cereal, but frosting? That was a different story. Many years ago, before going gluten-free, I used to love getting the corner piece of a heavily frosted wedding, anniversary, birthday or other celebratory cake. That usually included some sort of neon-colored trim. That was always my secret indulgence. Not anything I ever made or ordered anywhere, but if I came upon a party serving store bought cake, I usually (discretely, of course) sought out the corner piece with the most frosting. Lucky for me, I’m now forced to pass up on that.

    Hope all is well in your little corner of the world! Happy New Year to you and your family.
    xo

  16. lo says:

    Oh, wholesome?
    Of course — especially the Yellow #5. Didn’t you know that it’s almost like a vitamin the way it appears in our food… I hear the FDA has a daily minimum… ;)

    • Melissa says:

      Lo,

      I can always count on you for a witty reply! What’s the daily minimum for BHA? I’ll look in my Clinical Nutrition book and let you know so you can get your daily allowance. :-)

  17. Unfortunately the downside to gluten-free becoming more mainstream is the glut of non-nutritious gluten free foods now avaiable. We used to eat heathier because we had to. Just because we CAN now buy gluten free crap doesn’t mean we should!

    • Melissa says:

      Carol,

      Yes, we’ve gone from no GF products on the shelves (back in the day) to a “glut” of gluten-free products, as you mention. Many of them just as bad or worse than the gluten choices. The bottom line is that it’s best to start with whole foods and learn to cook. It makes it pretty simple when you choose foods with no labels to decipher!

    • Melissa says:

      Carol,

      Yes, we’ve gone from no GF products on the shelves (back in the day) to a “glut” of gluten-free products, as you mention. Many of them just as bad or worse than the gluten choices. The bottom line is that it’s best to start with whole foods and learn to cook. It makes it pretty simple when you choose foods with no labels to decipher!

  18. Deanna says:

    I was thinking that exact thing when I saw that these cereals are now gluten-free. Excellent post. I hope that other companies don’t follow suit. I like being forced to focus on real food.

    • Melissa says:

      Deanna,

      Thanks for your comment. The “other companies” will follow suit simply because GF is booming and they want to get in on the action. It has nothing to do (for the big industry foods) with caring about people. It’s about money.

  19. Well, the colors in the cereal sure look pretty but looks are deceiving, aren’t they? But the marketing that the big companies do is so powerful, it’s not hard to understand why busy, overworked parents would just cave and allow their kids to eat this crap. I just don’t get it. I guess the bottom line is that all these companies care about is a buck.

    Thank God for people like you who help to combat, one post at a time, all the bad that these cereal companies try to pawn on the public. Keep up the good work. I’m a huge fan!!!

    • Melissa says:

      GFD,

      I appreciate your comment! Thank you! You’re right, the marketing is powerful and directed to busy, overworked parents. The bottom line is all about money. It’s not that I think making money is a bad thing, that is the purpose of business, but gosh, we’re in a health care crisis in this country. It’s time to start voting with our forks! Say no to this junk and join a CSA. =)

  20. Lexie says:

    I’ve been neglecting visiting my bloggy friends, so I am reading this one long past the post date. So many of us take if for granted … wouldn’t even THINK of throwing a box of Fruit Loops in our cart, but for some it is still everyday! Last fall my son dropped a box of some neon cereal into our cart without my knowledge. When I was loading up the car he said, “mom when we get home can we have some of that cereal?” “Um what cereal.” Well we promptly walked back into the store to customer service for a return. That HUGE box of Fruit Loops cost $1.89. Only $1.89! Something has got to give. Something has got to change. I feel that it is coming.

  21. Kristin says:

    I work in a restaurant, and it always kills me when parents have brought in food for their young kids. Today, it was three women with two small children and they were being fed tic tac’s & gummy hamburgers before their meal of chicken tenders & french fries.

    The human race is doomed.

  22. How about not serve kids cereal in the morning, period! No matter how “wholesome” cereal is, it just doesn’t cut it first thing in the morning. Dry crunchy stuff shoots blood sugar up too quickly and then causes a drop shortly thereafter causing hunger and ADD symptoms. I can imagine this stuff does that job even faster!

    Advertising is so sad….we all need to just look beyond it no matter how hard it is sometimes. Thanks for the detective work and sharing this! -Ali :)

  23. My 9 yr old son came up behind me and looked at the above photos while I was reading this, and his comment was a horrified “ooooh, YUCK!!!!” I was very pleased!! :D Even kids know that things that look like crayon shavings should not be considered food!!

  24. Anonymous says:

    So, so sad =( I hate seeing things like this. We have been gluten free for almost two years now and I have to say that I much preferred the gluten-free items available when we started this journey. Quite limited which left us fewer choices so we really had few modifications to our nearly whole food diet. As my young kids are now in early elementary the convenient food options seem to enter much more often than I would prefer! Wonderful post! Thank you!

  25. Jos says:

    I love this post, and it’s so true now that Gluten Free is the “in thing” more and more companies are going to pushing their crap on to the GF community.

    Real food doesn’t come in those colors!

  26. Laura says:

    I gave in to my daughter’s pleas once & bought this cereal for her. Not to be gross, but her poop was the EXACT color of the blue & green in the cereal. That combined with the way the cereal clings to the bowl as if it’s glued on after you’re finished… ick. This is just one of those parent moments where you have to suck it up & listen to the whining because you know what’s good for them.

  27. [...] discussion on the fact that such cereals are a nutritional black hole (you can read more on that over at Melissa’s Gluten Free for Good blog), what does it mean when some companies say that they are certified gluten free? Read Jules’ post [...]

  28. DavetteB says:

    You are right about overusing ‘wholesome’.

    Plus, food manufacturers just want to jump on whatever bandwagon they see for profit; they don’t really care about your health. Potato chips could be gluten-free too, but I don’t think you should eat them for breakfast either. (though at least they don’t have all of those dyes).

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