Why I Am Against Instant Oatmeal

oatmealI know people lead very hectic lifestyles these days, and believe me, I can relate. Work, training, meetings, appointments, chores, errands, modeling, fitness and bodybuilding events, writing, shooting videos, and managing websites and social media keep me going at a frenetic pace every day. Yet I make sure I have a few minutes to prepare a nutritious morning meal every single day. I become very irritated when I hear patients and clients say that they have ZERO time to prepare a nutritious breakfast. Are you serious about not having even five minutes in the morning to take care of your own health? Come on.

Patients often proudly tell me that they are eating oatmeal every day, but when I ask them what type, they tell me they grab the instant variety. This irritates me to no end. You still have to put the oatmeal in a bowl, boil the water which takes about three minutes, then mix. When I make my old-fashioned oats, I combine them in a saucepan with water and a dash of cinnamon, then let the mixture cook for three minutes. So what if I take an extra 30 seconds to transfer the cooked oatmeal into a bowl?

Another thing I think is disgusting about instant oats is that the oat and water mixture often does not mix well, so you have a gloppy, soupy mixture which has to set for at least a minute so that it will thicken. Halfway through that extra minute in which you are waiting for your instant oatmeal to thicken, I am already eating my old-fashioned oatmeal.

You may wonder what the big deal is about eating the plain oats versus the instant variety. There are artificial flavors, thickening agents, sugar, and salt in the instant packs which lowers the nutrient density of the oatmeal. In addition, since there is so much processing which occurs in the manufacture of the instant variety of this food item, vitamins and minerals are added to replace what has been stripped from the original oats. Why go through all this when you can choose the least processed version which is the most nutritious?

Bear in mind that the cereal industry is counting on you grabbing the instant variety because of its attractive packaging. Guess what? The instant oatmeal is far more expensive than the old fashioned oats which have one item on their ingredient list: “OATS”. Just because a food item comes in a single serving envelope and only requires you to add hot water does NOT mean it will shave off significant time from your morning meal prep. Remember what I mentioned earlier about total prep time? Here’s a reminder:

INSTANT OATMEAL PREP:
Tear packet and pour oatmeal into bowl (5 seconds)
Boil water (3 minutes)
Pour water over oat mixture and stir (20 seconds)
Let sit for 1 minute to thicken (1 minute)
TOTAL PREP TIME = 4 minutes, 25 seconds

OLD-FASHIONED OATMEAL PREP:
Combine oats and water in a saucepan with a dash of cinnamon (10 seconds)
Cook mixture on medium heat for three minutes, stirring occasionally (3 minutes)
Remove from heat and pour into bowl (10 seconds)
TOTAL PREP TIME = 3 minutes, 20 seconds

If you insist on eating instant oatmeal, at least go for the healthier versions. The best out there is Trader Joe’s Organic Oats and Flax Instant Oatmeal, which contains: organic rolled oats, organic dehydrated cane juice solids, organic flax seed, sea salt.

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