If You Thought Oatmeal Couldn’t Be Bad For You, Guess Again

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REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The first clue you might be eating something unhealthy is that you’re eating it at McDonald’s. That applies even to some of Mickey D’s most nutritious-sounding menu items, such as the recently debuted breakfast offering: Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (FMO).

In an enlightening and entertaining opinion piece, New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman points out all the ways in which the McDonald’s version of the most wholesome of foods (“Real oatmeal contains no ingredients; rather, it is an ingredient.”) is nothing more than a bowlful of expensive junk food. Remarkably, McDonald’s oatmeal contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than an Egg McMuffin. (More on Time.com: 5 Ways to Get Oatmeal in Your Diet, Deliciously)

Bittman writes:

[I]n typical McDonald’s fashion, the company is doing everything it can to turn oatmeal into yet another bad choice. (Not only that, they’ve made it more expensive than a double-cheeseburger: $2.38 per serving in New York.) “Cream” (which contains seven ingredients, two of them actual dairy) is automatically added; brown sugar is ostensibly optional, but it’s also added routinely unless a customer specifically requests otherwise. There are also diced apples, dried cranberries and raisins, the least processed of the ingredients (even the oatmeal contains seven ingredients, including “natural flavor”).

A more accurate description than “100% natural whole-grain oats,” “plump raisins,” “sweet cranberries” and “crisp fresh apples” would be “oats, sugar, sweetened dried fruit, cream and 11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen.”

Some might argue that buying McDonald’s oatmeal is a lot more convenient than making it at home. Surely, those people have never actually made oatmeal at home. Read the full Times column for Bittman’s advice on how to cook oats correctly and quickly, and for McDonald’s justification of FMO.

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