Fruity Logic

Post cereals made headlines by declaring some of their products gluten-free. This set many in the celiac and gluten-free community abuzz, celebrating Post’s “enlightenment.” Among the cereals declared gluten-free: Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles, Marshmallow Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles Treats.

Let’s think this through: If there is an unhealthy component in a food, and we then remove just that component, does that mean that all that remains is healthy? After all traces of gluten have been removed (or are not added), here’s what remains in gluten-free Fruity Pebbles:

Rice, Sugar, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut And Palm Kernel Oils), Salt, Contains Less Than 0.5% Of Natural And Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Yellow 6, Turmeric Oleoresin (Color), Blue 1, Yellow 5, Blue 2, Bha (To Help Protect Flavor).

So, gluten-free Fruity Pebbles contain a very high-glycemic index form of rice (i.e., pulverized rice), sugar, “trans” fats, artificial colors, and butylated hydroxyanisole, a suspected carcinogen in the gastrointestinal tract. A 3/4-cup serving yields 23 grams total carbohydrates, zero grams fiber, for a total 23 grams of “net” or effective carbohydrates. (Note that Post has recently boasted about the reduction in sugar to 9 grams per 3/4-cup serving, but fails to note that the form of rice used raises blood sugar higher than table sugar, gram for gram.)

In other words, it is plain awful. Unfortunately, this did not stop many in the celiac and gluten-free community from showering praise on Post and its new gluten awareness. The Celiac Awareness section of, for instance, posted these comments:

“Post Foods earned kudos from those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity when it announced that it had made its popular Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles cereals gluten-free . . . Although most people think of Pebbles cereals as a kids’ product, I’ve known plenty of adults who like them. Gluten-free consumers can find Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles in most supermarkets.”

Oh, boy.

Here’s the ingredient list for gluten-free Marshmallow Pebbles:

Rice, Sugar, Marshmallow Bits (Sugar, Modified Cornstarch, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Gelatin, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Natural And Artificial Flavor), Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut And Palm Kernel Oils), Salt, Contains Less Than 0.5% Of Natural And Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Caramel Color. Bht Added To Packaging Material To Preserve Product Freshness.

In effect, it contains sugar, sugar, sugar, trans fats, artificial flavors and colors, and a potential carcinogen.

Any of this gluten-free stuff sound even remotely healthy to you?

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Nancy J Madison

    Since the wheat belly book I have been wheat free for about 8 weeks now and have only used a few gluten free products. Trying to make recipes from the book and the cookbook, but cannot find all ingredients. I hope the pizza recipe is a good one. I don’t consider this cereal healthy even with the wheat, why would you do so just cause its removed. They know they have to do something different with the amount do people who have Celiac (my daughter included), no one will be buying there cereal.

  2. Alice

    I know way too many people who will eat stuff like this and then tell everyone they know that they didn’t lose weight or feel better on a gluten-free diet.

  3. Megan

    No, it doesn’t sound healthy….but having a wheat allergy (like I do) you have to give up so much food that I loved. If I can have this cereal, once in a blue moon, I’ll take it!

    • Ian

      I think your thought hit the nail on the head. Better to have a not so healthy No-wheat junk food than a healthy whole wheat junk food. Of course as with any healthy eating lifestyle moderation, in this case severe moderation is the key.

    • Neicee

      Megan, if you have a wheat allergy, now and then is not an option. There is more to worry about in wheat than simply gluten. I’d find something else to splurge on that worthless cereals.

  4. > Any of this gluten-free stuff sound even remotely healthy to you?

    Not even remotely honest branding.
    This “Fruity” product contains exactly zero actual fruit content.

    The only thing it contains that is part of a healthy diet is the salt.

    It’s probably safer to eat the empty box.

    • Janknitz

      My 12 year old daughter just spent two weeks at “sleep away” camp. My husband and kids are not wheat free (husband refuses to “cut out an entire food group”–urgh!) but we don’t bring sugary cereals into our home.

      I asked her what they served at breakfast and most mornings she had eggs in one form or another. She avoided the pancakes, waffles, and French toast, mostly because she didn’t like the “fake” (not real maple) syrup, so she chose fruit loops instead on those days because “they have fruit in them”. AAARGHHH!!! The marketeers for these cereal companies know EXACTLY what they are doing when they brand this garbage. Even a smart kid like mine gets sucked in to their advertising hype. And boo on this camp, that serves coffee cake to kids on Saturday mornings because the kitchen is closed!

  5. Barbara in New Jersey

    Post’s chemists and advertising employees have certainly done what they were paid to do! Ethical considerations aside, I wonder how they justify the product they make? Can they really look at themselves in the mirror? Even worse: the people who buy this kind of obvious junk for themselves and their family and consider it “food.”

    Of course kids love this stuff! It is sweet. Cleverly packaged to appeal to them. And then they go to school where they sit in a stupor until their next high glycemic fix of Oscar Meyer Lunchables advertised to “empower them” and give them a choice in their lunch selection. Cookies and chocolate milk (low fat!) a few hours later and then pizza or mac and cheese for supper. Maybe some ice cream for dessert.

    Any wonder the children don’t thrive? Are fat? Suffer from allergies, asthma and other health problems at increasing rates? Fruity Logic indeed!

    • unterderlaterne

      It is so darn hard for me to keep my mouth shut when I encounter parents in the cereal isle asking their kids to pick a cereal and they choose the worst! (my husband still wants his bran fakes, what is a wife to do?)

  6. Marian

    Junk food is junk food whether it’s gluten free or not. And, just because you are eating gluten free, whether for Celiacs or not, doesn’t mean a person cares about the nutritional quality of what they are eating. There aren’t many, if any, breakfast cereals that are nutritionally healthy anyway.

  7. Maggie

    When I see lists of ingredients like that I shudder. And to think so many people just don’t bother to read them!

    • Neicee

      I recently had a young college age checker at a major grocery chain remark “looks like you had a good time shopping the outside isles.” All I could do was grin. I never venture into the center isles unless it’s for a necessary household item.

  8. Bruce

    I think it’s okay to eat this. As long as it is part of a healthy breakfast which should include gluten free toast with a “butter” type spread on it, and a big glass of orange juice. The government tells me so.

  9. This brings to mind…..last year, consumers protested so vehemently against the use of ‘cochineal’, (the red juice released when little, tiny white bugs are crushed) at one of the leading coffee chains , that it was discontinued. If I’m not mistaken, isn’t that red dye #40, listed in the ingredients above?

  10. Lynda (Fl)

    My son used to want cereal for breakfast as a boy. Too bad we didn’t know how bad it was for you. However, at age 9, he started specifically asking me to make him eggs on important test days because he did better on his tests with eggs! Seems if a nine year old could see the difference, a scientist at Kelloggs should be able to see it as well. I was just a stupid mother who had never heard that wheat could be unhealthy, what’s their excuse?
    Oh, silly me! Money…

  11. I could be confused about the oils. I understand that hydrogenated oils are transfat while coconut oil and palm oil are naturally solid at room temp so they don’t require hydrogenation like corn oil etc. Is there a process where they take these oils and hydrogenate them chemically? What the heck?

    The salt used in cereals typically lacks iodine. If you are cutting sodium and eating processed foods you are probably not getting enough iodine. You probably are getting enough so you don’t form goiters but not enough for proper functioning of your thyroid. Just another reason to avoid processed foods.


    • Neicee

      I’ll take my iodine in drops. The salt on the store shelf with the cute umbrella is not the good stuff. We already eat lots of shellfish and a couple servings a week of ocean navigating fish. Never have cared much for the river/stream varieties.

      • unterderlaterne

        Does that include trout? So delicious with brown butter and sliced almonds, especially enjoyable to eat when self caught!

        • Neicee

          Yep, it does include trout. My current cravings are halibut, rockfish, cod, any kind of shellfish or simply: anything that inhabits the ocean. And, salmon. Combined, they warrant their own shelf in the freezer.

  12. And MSG! I see 2 ingredients that are secret code for MSG: modified corn starch and natural flavors. I didn’t let my kids eat this even before I knew about wheat, gluten, GMO grains or even MSG. All that sugar and food dye is bad enough.

    (Hi, my name is Becky and I’ve been wheat free since August 9, 2012 . . .)

  13. tw

    I recommend: Sugar Salt Fat by Michael Moss if you want to know how the food industry works.
    Gluten free is the new fad (based on all the stuff i see in the store lately) and they are filling the demand with a label and their multimillion dollar team of science and marketing experts. It’s a potent combo.

    I have not had a single “gluten free” product that I have found satisfying as a wheat free alternative.

    • Bea Pullar

      The research of Michael Moss into the shenanigans of the food industry- especially since 1999 exposed just how deliberately they have manipulated foods for profit. I often lend people a copy of Wheat Belly, and then, Salt Sugar Fat – How the Food Giants Hooked Us. Once people gain insight into the strategies that have hoodwinked them – plus the health benefits – they are more likely to avoid wheat and other packaged foods. Of course many still love to have the convenience of packaged foods, but we can try to educate others with books like these.

  14. Susan

    how this stuff can be called food I just have no idea! I consider it a crime against kids!

  15. JillOz

    IT’s not just sugar that’s bad for your body and health. IF it ruins your body and you need to get medical help it also exposes you to increased possibilites of incompetent practitioners who make you much worse.

  16. Patricia Taylor

    My husband and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a part of Dr. Davis’s cutting edge technology for many years. It has indeed been life changing. No one deserves this success more than he does.
    Thank you Dr. Davis.

    • > Foods such as this need to be accompanied by a ‘warning label’!

      They are.
      The key warning labels say:
      “Gluten Free”

      And that’s going to remain the case for years to come, when the GF is replaced by LC, then LCHF, or whatever abbreviation comes to denote products you’d actually want to eat.

      GF today usually means one of two things:
      1. Sky high glycemic.
      2. Product never had wheat anyway, but we’ll pander to the GF fad.
      The more prominent the GF, the more likely it’s a ruse.

  17. I am glutten intollerant I was just searching on the internet for glutten free grocery stores in Toronto Canada and one of the items on the shelves of one of these stores was fruity pebbles or fruity o’s. My first thoughts were “how healthy are those?”.

    • Dr. Davis

      There’s a name for this, Carly: exploitation.

      Or, at the very least, ignorance on the part of the food industry. It’s pretty awful.

  18. Karen Scribner

    I think gluten-free and wheat free are being confused or used as the same meaning. The rice in the cereal has gluten, but it is rice’s gluten that is different from wheat’s gluten. Dr Davis has told us the problem with wheat is the new protein that it made for itself, gliadin.

  19. I’ve been on WB since Jan., began to weigh myself (finally) in mid-February so I don’t have a really accurate starting point—only a guesstimate! Anyway I think I began this as a weight loss (primarily) plan. Not so much anymore as I’m feeling better as the months go by. I’m probably down between 25-30 lbs. All that said…I read the comments from participants as well as Dr. Davis’ and slowly the information is seeping through my mind.
    Just yesterday I was in a new health-food store in our community, scoping it out mostly. They do have “gluten-free” items on the shelves and freezer—BUT reading the labels is something else. ALL the sugar, tapioca flour, other flours (not recommended in W.B.) tell a different story! Sugar isn’t our friend neither!! I’m sort of rambling here but just wanted to reiterate that *gluten-free* prepared foods aren’t all they’re cracked up to be—wish they were, because our society is all about *easy and fast*!! Again thank you Dr. Davis for all that you’ve done for us.
    Oh…and today I had my fasting labs done again for my primary’s visit next week. Their scale weighs *heavy*..or at least compared to my home one and I’m down more lbs!!! BONUS!!! I’ll be back next week with a lab report!!!

  20. Clare West

    its amazing how many colourings are legal here in the US/Canada that are banned in the UK and Europe.
    I know why I stock my pantry with home made granola and quinoa bars now!
    Just goes to show it’s not always the wheat, but all the nasty additives and preservatives that we didn’t have 60 years ago, when Mum shopped every day!