The Cereal Dieter

The Cereal Dieter

British novelist W. Somerset Maugham stated that ‘If you want to eat well in England, eat three breakfasts.’ And why wouldn’t he? With over fifty brands of cereals, breakfast in the U.K is a culinary buffet. Whatever your mood – they’ll be a cereal to match. Happy – Cheerios, Busy – Weetabix, Depressed – Porridge, Indulgent – Choco Crackles…the list goes on.

Cereals have usurped the ‘Full English’s’ position as the symbol of the British breakfast. Cereal simply works better with our lifestyle: quick and easy. We just do not have time to mess about with eggs, bacon and a frying pan before work, and that’s without even bringing sausages, toast and black pudding into the equation. Cereal is the way forward. What better way to start your day (both physically and digestively) than with a bowel (pun intended) of ‘Bran Flakes?’

Breakfast cereals have become more than a meal, they have become a lifestyle. We care about cereal – Tony the Tiger is more than a cartoon; he is a friend. Snap, Crackle and Pop aren’t just the mascots of Rice Krispies; they are little brothers. Remember the controversy when ‘Coco Pops’ became ‘Choco Krispies?’ There was a national outcry. I mean honestly – the syllables didn’t even match the jingle!

Recent times however have seen cereal change – there are people out there, crazy people, to whom cereal is not just a breakfast option but a full time diet. There are people who are defying the cereal culture and are utilising cereal as a method to lose weight. I speak, of course, of The Special K diet.

The Special K diet works upon the premise that you must consume a bowl of cereal for breakfast and for lunch, with a well-balanced meal for supper. This is easy one thinks as one piles a mound of Special K into one’s bowl with a good dousing of semi-skimmed milk. One is wrong and one is not doing the diet properly.

If one looks at the fine print, you realise that 30 grams, I repeat 30 grams constitutes one bowl. In my books thirty grams is barely a handful, let alone a bowl. Even 30 grams of Shreddies wouldn’t keep ‘hunger locked up ‘till lunch!’ The fine print goes yet further; one is to use low-fat or fat free milk – so basically you are eating a toddlers handful of cereal covered in what may as well be water. Delicious!

I’m not saying that cereal diets do not work. No doubt if one stuck rigidly to the Special K diet, you would lose the promised 2 pounds a week. But is it really worth it? Would it not be better to eat a proper bowl of cereal, with actual milk and do some exercise? It’s all very well sitting on the sofa with your tiny spoon munching on soggy flakes for two weeks and losing 4 pounds, but you’re still not going to be toned – if anything you’ll just have a bit more excess skin. To look good and feel good you need to be healthy. You need a balanced, wholesome diet and you need to exercise.

However with our surroundings we cannot blame ourselves too much – responsibility for our deluded nation surely lies, in part, with the media. Images of lean figured beauties chewing slowly on spoonfuls of moist cereal dominate our screens. ‘If they can do it why can’t we?’ The little voice in the back of our head pipes up. What you don’t see is the fat bird on the bean bag who is eating exactly the same thing. It just wouldn’t sell as well.

Peoples metabolisms are different therefore peoples diets should be different. Just because one woman eats two bowls of cereal and has a size ten figure does not mean the same will work for you. Also, realistically you are not going to eat two bowls of cereal twice a day for the rest of your life, so the weight you lose will come straight back when you stop. Furthermore, it’s pretty bloody anti-social; when you get invited out to lunch what are you going to do? Bring a tupperware box to whip out after your friend finishes their starter – I think not.

Cereal was made to be enjoyed, not to aid weight-loss. When you munch on a bowl of Frosties, Tony doesn’t want you to be thinking about calories; he wants you to be thinking how ‘grrrrrrrreat’ they are. We need to stop thinking about how much fat, how much sugar and how many calories there are in food – things just don’t taste quite so good when you’re racking up figures in your head. You didn’t see the cave men saying ‘Oh no, I couldn’t possibly – do you know how many calories are in that?’ If you want to slim down for summer then join the gym. Or follow the simple rule: Eat Less, Run More.

When W. Somerset Maugham stated that ‘If you want to eat well in England, eat three breakfasts,’ he did not mean it as a means to lose weight. He meant it as Breakfast being the best meal of the day, so much so you would want to eat it for every meal. We have become lost in contemporary society; we have been morphed into calorie counting robots. We are warned here, there and everywhere about what to eat and what not to eat and consequently food has lost half of its enjoyment. Break from the mould people! Eat three meals a day, exercise and don’t snack – you’ll have slimmed down for summer before you know it.


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