On Breakfast Cereal

I just downloaded the new Word for Mac, and I opened up some old documents to test the program out. In doing so, I found this memoir that I wrote three years ago though I never posted it anywhere. It made me laugh, so I thought I would share.

* * *

With my chin propped on my right fist, I stared at the ingredients list of the carton of soy milk in front of me. Low calories, low fat, low carbs. A little fiber. Lots of protein and calcium. Plenty of riboflavin, whatever that is. Maybe it’s a B vitamin. I made a mental note to look that up later.

I untwisted the cap and poured a small amount into my glass. I stared at the white liquid for a few seconds, then drank it. Swallowing, I set the glass down. Then I returned my soy milk to the refrigerator, reached for the fat-free peach-flavored yogurt, and finished eating breakfast.


The next morning, I found myself staring at the soy milk carton again. This time, however, the milk was joined by a box of healthy, grown-up cereal, a spoon, and a bowl that once belonged to my grandmother. Using a white plastic measuring cup, I measured out three-quarters of a cup of cereal and dumped it into the bowl. Once I started pouring the milk over the cereal, I began to question myself. How much should I pour? When should I stop? Should I pour just enough to wet the cereal, or should the cereal be completely covered?

Finally, I stopped, realizing the amount of milk really didn’t matter. I slid the spoon into the bowl and pushed the cereal around, enjoying the sound of  the flakes hitting against the spoon. As I put the first spoonful of cereal and milk into my mouth, I realized that I was experiencing this for the first time in my life. At twenty-two years old, I had never eaten a bowl of cereal and milk.

As a baby, I had been diagnosed with a milk allergy, so I avoided most dairy products as a child. Eventually, I was able to eat cheese and ice cream, but I never liked the taste of milk. As a secondary result, I rarely ate cereal, save the occasional bowl of dry Froot Loops, which I sorted by color. First, I ate pink, then orange, then green, and finally purple and blue together because they’re my favorite colors. But I never drank milk.

Until now. A few weeks before, I’d been diagnosed with diabetes. In addition to insulin and other medication, my doctor put me on a 1,500-calorie diet. I had to have a certain amount of dairy products per day, and the dietician suggested I try soy milk, which, combined with grown-up, healthy cereal instead of my beloved Froot Loops, became just one example of the dietary changes diabetes had forced upon me.

So I sat at my kitchen table, eating cereal and milk for the first time and wondering whether I actually liked what I was eating. The cereal tasted good, but wet? And combined with milk? I started thinking absurdly. Who was the first person to pour milk on cereal? And how many other Americans were eating the same breakfast at that moment?

I finally finished the cereal, then looked into the bowl at all the milk left. Should I drink it? I imagined myself tilting the bowl into my mouth and slurping, but that didn’t appeal to me. Neither did drinking it with a spoon. So I ended up pouring the milk down the drain. After putting the cereal and milk away, I realized that, although this could be some sort of rite-of-passage in my life, I still had no idea how I felt about cereal and milk.

I vowed to try again the next week . . . after I got tired of yogurt.

* * *

For the record, I was right. Riboflavin is vitamin B2.

Also, I still don’t like cereal and milk. I tried it a few more times after that first one, but I’m not a fan. Give me cereal bars, low-sugar oatmeal, cinnamon rolls, omelets, almost any breakfast food, but not cereal and milk.

Another note: although it sounds made-up, I really did measure out the cereal. During those first few months, I counted every bite that I put in my mouth, exerting superb amounts of control over the food I ate. I was afraid of eating one flake too many. 🙂


7 thoughts on “On Breakfast Cereal

  1. Ticcoa says:

    How did I not know you dislike cereal and milk?

    This is hilarious, by the way. I laughed all the way through your post. And then, I read it aloud to Jess.

    • Haley says:

      Haha. Glad you both enjoyed it.

      It’s all true. I don’t know why you didn’t know about my breakfast cereal aversion. We don’t eat breakfast together often enough for this discovery, I suppose.

  2. Harvin says:

    I remember these early attempts and being so confused by how you could not like cereal and milk. I LOVE cereal and milk, but I only pour the milk in one exact place on the side so that the rest of the cereal doesn’t get wet. I hate even slightly soggy cereal. Also, it has to be whole milk.

  3. Ruth says:

    My mom always made us eat cereal and milk and I HATED it. I mean, who wants soggy cereal, and who wants crumbs in their milk? I stopped eating it as soon as I was an adult and only had a bowl every now and then if I was at someone else’s house.

    This is really funny to me, because I’m kind of experiencing what you wrote about right now. I started dieting again, but I got tired of Slim Fast, so now I’m doing Special K. I have had to reexperience cereal and milk–this time by choice. Since flakes with milk aren’t as offensive to me as other cereals with milk (not sure why–I think it’s a texture thing), I think it’s gonna work out.

    Loved the post! You’re awesome.

  4. Ruth says:

    I haven’t tried the protein plus. I like the kind with berries in it. The reason I include the milk is so I get some protein, cuz the Red Berries cereal doesn’t have much.

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