Is Carnation Breakfast Essentials Necessary?

February 25, 2014   32 Comments

Snack Girl found herself watching a commercial for this product over and over.

Carnation Breakfast Essentials Review

It featured a beautiful mother talking about how hard it is to ensure her child has the right nutrition (tell ME about it) and how her solution was to give her child one of these drinks as he leaves the house.

Is this drink going to save me from making breakfast? Man, I hope so.

Here is the ingredients list:


Now, I know how hard it is to make breakfast and get your kids out the door because I do it every day, but I never thought to give them water and corn syrup instead of breakfast.

Carnation Breakfast Essentials is basically a protein drink with a multi-vitamin added and added sugar. The taste is beyond terrible - fake strawberry and SO sweet (they add stevia to be sure it is sweet enough).

This type of product drives me crazy because the advertisement is SO wholesome and the truth is that it is a terrible choice. Why?

  1. It has 3 teaspoons of sugar.
  2. 240 calories of liquid will leave your child hungry in an hour.
  3. You cannot substitute for healthy food with vitamin supplements.

Food contains thousands of micronutrients, fiber, and more that works together to make you healthy. No cocktail of supplements, such as Carnation Breakfast Essentials can take the place of food.

This package cost me $6 and would last only 3 days in my house (I have two kids). A children’s multi-vitamin is a much cheaper option and would help assuage my guilt when I feed them a doughnut to start the day.

No, my kids don’t eat steamed vegetables and brown rice for breakfast EVERY day ☺

You can do better than this drink - read Snack Girl and get FAST and healthy breakfast ideas. Takes one minute tops. Believe me - you can do it.

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My daughter's endocrinologist asked her to drink this because she gets a sick stomach from eating food in the morning before school. It does the trick for her, though I'd love to find something I could make without all those unnecessary ingredients. We also go with the low sugar one to keep her sugar in check.

I'm on a liquid diet due to digestive disease, and have been for years. I now blend whole foods for the most part, but for a very long time, I was formula dependent. I made my own after getting sick of the expense and chemical shitstorm that was the others. It's not very hard, really. No, it's not going to be scientifically accurate down to the gram, but I knew I was getting "enough" into me, and it kept me alive for years.

I used powdered milk, ovaltine chocolate malt (just because I like the flavor, and it has some added minerals to it), nutritional yeast, flax oil, commercial whey protein powder, and threw a multivitamin into the morning's dose. Sometimes a little chocolate syrup (Trader Joe's Midnight Moo is actual chocolate and sugar, not corn syrup and flavoring). I typically blended this with a frozen banana and milk, but sometimes just milk. I could handle the taste, it was all close to real food, and cost a fraction of the boxed stuff. I'd sometimes make it for my kids, too. No, it's not solid, but it's enough when it's all you can manage. I drank think 5-6x/day for years. I was never hungry, but then again, I'm NEVER hungry, so that doesn't matter much. I'm sure a human with a working gut would be hungry.

Larell- what about a smoothie instead? My kids love them and it only takes about 5 minutes. I do admit washing the blender everyday stinks though!

I use - frozen banana+ another type of fruit, plain yogurt plus unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I also as a handful of spinach if I have it.

I recently saw this commercial too and it made me want to scream. Oats takes minutes to make, no excuse.

I tried another protein drink - special K I think - my oldest son tried one, proclaimed "yuk" - and the rest are in my fridge - I actually tried to use one in my coffee when we ran out of milk - "yuk." I too hate to think of throwing away $6 - but they are getting tossed.

Breakfast here is always a struggle - they just got up and aren't hungry / don't have time / eat lunch early at school. Today's mini success was handing the 13 year old a baggie of Oatmeal squares cereal as he walked out the door. "Can I eat these on the bus?" - Sure honey...

seems that this kind of product is mainly good for the producer's pocket but if it is sold, it means there is a demand for it, why? some of the commenters expressed what they are. some people find it hard to prepare thier own food, but if someone is prone to a little morning work, smoothies made of a concoction of a little water some fruits and some vegetables, that would be much, much better and healthier in any way.

Is vectora healthy energy bar?

I make these for my grandkids in the egg scrambled in I microwave proof bowl sprayed with coconut spray, toss in some grated cheese( I use TJ's shredded Mexican blend but any grated cheese will do) Microwave for 1 minute. It's comes out nice and fluffy serve on a toasted whole grain English Muffin. They love it and can even eat it in the car on the way to school! If they have time, serve some fresh fruit on the side. Almond milk smoothies with fruit greens, yogurt whatever strikes you, are another favorite and you can buy paper cups with lids and straws for a to go drink!

I think some of you are missing the point. If your child (mine's 10) refuses to eat ANYTHING in the morning, this is better than nothing or a donut & vitamin. I buy the chocolate packets & make w/ my own organic milk--cheaper for 10 pkts, and the first ingredient listed (even before I add mine) is milk, not water or corn syrup. It contains the protein of 2 eggs (13g). I pack her healthy snacks & lunch from home. I'm not stupid enough to believe this is a health food, but it has been a good option for us. And I cannot imagine trying to serve my kid a smoothie of almond milk & spinach! If I could even get her to eat oatmeal, the low protein/high carb would not be a great choice for her. She stays pretty full for a few hours. It's a compromise I am willing to make, esp. since she eats more whole foods throughout the day.

I can understand someone wanting to use these type of drinks to supplement their nutritional needs if they are in a condition to where they can't eat or hold down solids,especially due to illness or surgery. However,I personally can't justify calling a drink a meal. It just doesn't seem like it would hold one over until the next meal. A thick smoothie would be a bit more filling if I wanted something that reminds me of a milkshake. I don't see how some people can wait until around noon to have their first meal. If I don't have a nice solid breakfsst with real food before 9am,I get cranky.

I love reading everyones input and ideas- they are actually very helpful. But, it is pretty easy to say certain things if you don't actually live it. My son has sensory Integration, and his main issue is FOOD--its awful- we have a horrible time with food- the easiest thing for most people is a chore for us. We make him a glass of ovaltine(with protein powder) for breakfast daily.....if he drinks all of this-- this makes me happy

"Carnation instant breakfaaaast - you're gonna love it in an instant!" - sorry, that's been in my head since I saw this post in my inbox.

I haven't seen that commercial - the one you're referencing, SnackGirl - but I don't think I would ever choose to give this to my child. There is no "real" food in it. Even if like a previous commenter said that her doctor recommended it, I would try to find an alternative to make myself and only use this as a back-up. It amazes me how food companies are trying to pass off their products as healthy when they're full of sugar and sodium.

I don't usually comment, but I make a wonderful smoothie with banana, fruit(I use frozen berries), vanilla almond milk, rice plant protein powder, sometimes plain Greek yogurt. It is delicious! It keeps me full until lunch(I'm a teacher). Oatmeal never kept me full. I really look forward to it each morning. Breakfast doesn't have to be traditional.

We don't use the specific product Snack Girl is talking about. But, we do keep the Carnation Instant Breakfast dry mix packets in our house. If we are running late or don't feel like eating, mixing a packet in milk gives us a drink that actually does taste good (chocolate milk) and the protein in it keeps us full all morning. It isn't perfect but sometimes it is good enough.

8 oz. Plain 0% fat Kefir (14g protein), a heavy tablespoon (or more) of Polaner's Sugar Free Strawberry Preserves, and a bunch of frozen NO SUGAR added strawberries - depending on how thick you like it! In a blender - most delicious smoothie ever. If you want even more protein, add a serving of your favorite chocolate or vanilla protein powder! Great breakfast for a college student on the run, and for my husband after the gym. I make a batch the night before, leave it in the refrigerator in the blender. Then in the morning I just add a bunch more frozen strawberries to thicken it up, and blend!

I think I originally found this recipe in the 17 Day Diet book!

I can't believe all the excuses I see for less than healthy breakfasts. Who is anyone kidding that sugar is better than corn syrup? They both are sugar, period. It is sugar that makes the child hungry later. Protein keeps them feeling full.

Why not oatmeal? It is a whole grain with 12% protein and 9% carbs. They have plain (no sugar)instant you know?

Ovaltine has sugar for the first ingredient! But, it has 10% of the daily requirement of vitamins that it lists.…

Does anyone read a label?

And, be careful of using vitamin supplements and ask your doctor. It is now believed that if vitamins are not from whole foods they could be damaging.

Eggs are one perfect choice for children. You would not believe how many vitamins and minerals are in eggs. One egg is about 80 calories, throw in some cheese and you have of about 100 calories and should last your child until lunch.

"While it is true that egg yolk contains a high percentage of fat, it is unsaturated fat which is associated with "good" or HDL cholesterol. LDL is the type of cholesterol that lines blood vessels, whereas HDL cholesterol tends to remove LDL from artery walls and is known as "good" cholesterol. Consuming eggs rather than sources of animal protein which contain saturated fats might actually lower the chances of heart disease."…

OR, buy some plain (no sugar) live culture yogurt or kefir and make a smoothie with a low glycemic sweetener. It takes seconds.

Better yet, make your own kefir. It can be low fat if you use low fat milk. I has over 3 times the beneficial cultures of yogurt and is cheap to make and EASY!

Kefir grains can be used over and over, just keep giving them fresh milk. The kefir grains are kept alive by "eating" the lactose and they actually multiply.

It is easy to build a supply and to keep culturing new batches. No special appliance or work is necessary. Get the wet "grains" not the freeze dried and you will save yourself a lot of work rehydrating them.

Here is a link regarding children's health and kefir:

Here is a smoothie recipe:

Kefir has the protein, calcium, magnesium, and many other vitamins and minerals combined with healthy foods, I believe, gives a wider spectrum of usable nutrition.

If a child has a problem with food, there may be a medical issue. If not, then kefir may be the answer to good drinkable nutrition.

Yes, I read labels, I also struggle on a daily basis with my child who has severe eating issues, that is a challenge every single day- every single meal.

Again, its easy for people to judge and think how on earth are we not feeding our child certain things.

Unless you have walked in my shoes, you have no clue with what is going on.

We do the best with what situation we are given

SnackGirl, you tricked me! Why isn't this photo black and white like your other "AVOID THIS JUNK" photos?? :) I saw the color photo and instantly thought, wow this article is going to tell us that this drink is an okay choice - how surprising! So I guess I'm glad to see that my initial thought (that the stuff is not nutritionally dense, shall we say) was correct, but it's always nice to be pleasantly surprised. Especially when it's a commercial foodstuffs manufacturer selling something that's actually healthful. Oh well.

While I think it's a stretch to say that eggs or oatmeal or homemade kefir are as easy and quick to make for a finicky kid on the way out the door in the morning, I will say that it seems far better to keep a bag of protein powder on hand to blend with milk, chocolate sauce, fruit, yogurt, or whatever. Ingredients matter. Corn syrup may be the same nutritionally as sugar, but it's also a red flag that the rest of the ingredients are probably also cheap, and that matters. Starting from plain milk or almond milk, adding a good quality scoop of protein and then some sweetness and flavoring seems the right approach, instead of starting with a sweetened powder that contains a lot of crap and who knows how much protein. I do this sometimes for myself or my daughter when we're in a rush, though I still get hungry in an hour or two - but I'm always hungry so it's not that big a deal. :)

One tip re: cleaning the blender - as soon as I pour the smoothie, I blast the empty blender pitcher with hot water from the sprayer, upside down over the sink. Then leave it on the drying rack or a towel upside down to drip dry. Gets it clean enough to use again the next day!

I never meant to pick on parents who have children with eating issues. Obviously, if you have been told this product will help - you should use it.

I'm trying to address the marketing of the product - which is not about eating issue - it is about replacement of a real breakfast with this drink.

Thank you all for your informative (and interesting!) comments.

The old adage "If you can't pronounce the ingredients, don't eat it." holds true in this case. Here in Australia, fruit, vegies, healthy food options are tax free. Soda, candy, dog food, toilet cleaner do incur tax. Our tax is totaled at the bottom of the register receipt. My advice to Aussie folk is, if you pay minimal tax on your food items, it must be healthy.

Lisa, I don't think you were picking on anyone with this post! I think other moms felt attacked by some of the comments by some of the others. Your posts are always informative and I've learned a lot from you over these past several years! I am one of those moms who find making breakfast for my kids a part of my morning chores and have never strayed from that. However, I do understand other moms choosing to do something a little easier than getting up at the crack of dawn but I couldn't imagine sending my kids out without a healthy meal. I will even prepare a big batch of oatmeal on Sunday and simply heat it up before school, add fruit and we are done. I also take a dozen of eggs, mix it with broccoli, shredded cheese and mushrooms and pour the mixture into muffin pans and bake them! I pop them out and freeze them in baggies. If someone doesn't want oatmeal and fruit, they grab an egg-muffin and pop it in the microwave, grab some fruit and we're all good!! Sundays is food prep day in our house...that's the only way we stay on track with our healthy eating. We make it a family affair and it works!! But, to each his/her own. When we know better we do better, usually. To those who are limited in your options because special needs, I say, go with what works for you and your family. No one should feel judged because someone doesn't personally empathize with you! It's ok. There's room for everyone to express their opinions and have them respected. Thanks again Lisa for all that you do!!! Keep saving the world one snack at a time :-)

I also put the smoothie ingredients (frozen berries, plain yogurt, kale, banana, OJ or milk, sometimes pineapple) in the blender at night before going to bed. In the morning, it's quick and easy. Along with a piece of whole,wheat toast, it keeps my 13 yo daughter full until lunch. My other daughter likes to eat her fruit and yogurt whole and separate for breakfast, so I can't get the kale into her in the morning. We are all individuals, and eating preferences are part of that. Let's not tell people they are less than good parents if their child has strong preferences about food.

Tywana has the right idea. Why not fix a big batch of healthy food, eggs or oatmeal to reheat in the morning. Do it on the weekends if you work. It only takes a little time. No one has to get up at the crack of dawn to make oatmeal. It take two minute or less to scramble and egg. It really is up to the parent to control the mornings and what a child eats. You know if your the mom who really has special needs and a child with special needs or not. You are not who this post addresses so don't take offense. There are those moms who just need to get organized. For centuries moms have cooked healthy breakfasts for their children. Why can't we now? What are the distractions that prevent it? Distractions are what we need to identify and remove from our daily lives. We even have microwaves to help us out. Maybe moms are taking on too much these days. I do see a lot of children running their parents instead of the other way round. I have to take time out from my computer, housework, hobbies, work and TV to assure my family members get a healthy meal.

My mom always had healthy meals for us. My hubby whose mom had 9 children cooked for them every meal every day and they were very poor!

I have had to alter my lifestyle since H who is a cancer survivor and I (we both are diabetic). If I can do it, so can many other people.

All of us have challenges so don't think I am not sympathetic, I am just sympathic to the children.

Food does not have to be elaborate, just plain and simple.

Sorry, I for the kids.

OH, I forgot to mention. Hubby's mom brought up 5 of her 9 children by herself after her husband ran off to start a new life with someone else. He offered no support at all. I know you moms can do it!

My son is extremely picky and he will drink a smoothie. Leave out the spinach if you want.

If your kid will drink carnation instant breakfast, they will drink a smoothie with frozen bananas, milk, coco powder and plain whey protein. Even that is a lot healthy than this over processed garbage.

I think the stuff is HORRIBLE tasting and I say make your own smoothie or blended juicer then that stuff. I tired it once and said "nope never again!"

I make a bunch of scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, slice of cheese and a 110 cal bagel. Fix em up in sandwiches and put them in the fridge to be warmed up...

Soooo many excuses for feeding kids crap just boggles my mind! You really think your kids are better off with processed food more then real food? How bout some oatmeal, or toast with peanut butter, if you want something processed, how bout kefir, cottage cheese and fruit! But instant breakfast? Seriously!? Stop making excuses for laziness. Get off your ass and make your kids breakfast! Get out a blender toss in some banana, tofu or peanut butter. Kids need protein to last all morning! They will be able to concentrate better if you feed them well!

I have these nearly every day. I get nauseated if I eat breakfast and nauseated if I don't. The nausea lasts all day. Until I started drinking these. They aren't a match for real food obviously but when you have a sensitive digestive system there's not much you can do.

I've struggled with anorexia for years, and while in one of the treatment facilities I've been too, I had to drink weigh gain shakes. When I got to go home at night, they allowed us to make our own shakes. I'm thankful that carnation tastes sooo much better than those! It's still not great, but I guess it's all in what you like! I recently bought some again as I'm trying to get out of a nasty relapse. I knew many kids at school who would drink these along with a piece of fruit or dry cereal. I think it's better than nothing! Also, blending these with ice cream is a pretty tasty (yet pretty unhealthy) treat!

I simply LOVE Carnation Breakfast Essentials. (complete nutritional drink). I have a box in my pantry on every given day. I drink the classic chocolate malt flavor. It's fast, easy, & delicious. I drink it every day.

FYI fruit has so much sugar in it peeps as well as all fruit juices sooo...................

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