I am naturally suspicious of any food advertised on TV, but I became especially suspicious when I recently saw the advert for ‘Belvita Breakfast Biscuits’ – have you seen it? These biscuits are ‘made with wholegrain’ and are especially ‘designed for breakfast’. In the name of research I bought some and have done a quick evaluation. Nutritionally, they are a bit like hobnobs with added vitamins. Except hobnobs contain nearly twice as much fibre as Belvita Breakfast Biscuits.
If you sift through the information on the packaging, their claim that ‘the carbohydrates are regularly released over 4 hours to keep you going all morning’ is only when the biscuits are part of a ‘balanced breakfast’. And if you continue to scrutinise the packaging, you will see that the manufacturers suggest that a ‘balanced breakfast’ consists of a low fat yoghurt, a portion of fruit and a cup of tea or coffee. I think this is totally misleading. The TV advert and packaging makes you think that eating four of these for breakfast will keep you filled up for four hours. Not so, you need to eat a yoghurt and a portion of fruit too! And I don’t think you can really put a time limit on how long a food will keep you going for – we’re all different, and it depends on what you’ve eaten the day before, what you’re doing, how you’re feeling etc.
I think my biggest grievance is that this is another step towards making breakfast into a snack rather than a meal. And it’s a move away from real food. What happened to kippers or eggs for breakfast? Or just good old toast, jam and butter? See my earlier post about butter. And jam is a traditional food made with seasonal fruit. So many of the newer breakfast products available are overprocessed bars or sugary cereals with little nutritional value at all. You only need to look at the kids’ breakfast cereals and they are nearly all covered in sugar or chocolate flavoured.
I don’t think that for breakfast you need to be confined to a ‘breakfast food’; some people are perfectly happy to have left over shepherds pie for their breakfast, or a bowl of noodle soup. But I do think that it’s important to eat real food, made from natural, real ingredients – that’s what makes your body happy.