What’s for dinner tonight? I bet it’s not Raisin Bran or Grape Nuts, but why not? Research shows that whole-grain cereal is an excellent source of vitamins and fiber, and is low in calories and saturated fat. But in America, cereal is supposed to be eaten for breakfast. It’s not supposed to be eaten for dinner. We can’t do that. Says who? The advertisers, that’s who. What if Kelloggs launched a “dinner cereal?” and put a lot of marketing dollars behind the idea? Certainly this “dinner cereal” wouldn’t be different from any other cereal; it would just give us “permission” to steer away from the norm and do things a little differently. And I guarantee there’d be a lot less overweight people in the world.
About 7 years ago I put my theory to the test. I ate cereal for dinner 5 nights a week for about 4 months, and I can honestly say that my stomach was flatter than ever, I never felt full or bloated and I got used to it pretty quickly. In fact, I found myself driving home from work excited about what cereal I was going to have that night, and I looked forward to it. I felt great.
Our overweight problem is largely cultural. Big, dinnertime meals are part of what we do even though research shows that consuming our largest meal at night is a big reason for our bulging waist-lines. Not long ago I read an interesting study about the timing of our eating. The researchers compared the eating habits of some community in Scotland and compared them to ours. This community was in a farming region and the people, on average, consumed the same amount of calories per day that we do, but they did not have a weight problem. The reason: Breakfast was their big meal. About two thirds of their daily calories were consumed in the morning and they ate sensible lunches and dinners. In our culture, we consume two thirds of our calories after 5:00 P.M. The body’s metabolism slows down significantly after 6:00 P.M. and our bodies just aren’t burning all of those calories effectively.
Timing is everything. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
In our world, we do what seems normal, what everyone else is doing. A family sitting around the dinner table eating a bowl of Cheerios with sliced bananas sounds ludicrous. It just doesn’t fit into our cultural schema. But obviously something has got to change in our country or we’re just going to keep eating ourselves to death. Try the cereal plan for a few weeks and see if you lose weight. There is such a huge selection of good, healthy cereals out there so you don’t have to worry about getting board. Dare to be different.