My life can be broadly categorised into four phases by the kind of cereal that I have for breakfast, like the classic Ages of Man from Greek mythology:
The Coco Pops age (4-14)
This was the golden age, where the most important thing in my life was opening the next box of Coco Pops to find out which toy is in the packet.
I had no concept of nutrition and so the cereal with the most chocolate in it was obviously the best. It filled me up for almost an hour every morning before I was hungry again.
The Shreddies age (14-32)
Eventually I realised that I needed to eat something a bit more substantial for breakfast.
I always found Shreddies extremely comforting, and through the upheaval and homesickness of going to university I found Shreddies a constant companion.
When we lived in New Zealand I had to eat sub-standard Canadian imported Shreddies which had bilingual ingredients, but luckily in Melbourne there was a British shop where I could get the real thing at vastly inflated prices.
The Weetabix age (32-40)
The transition to Weetabix was abrupt, and no-one was more surprised than me.
I literally woke up one morning and disliked the taste of Shreddies. I don't know if they changed the recipe overnight or whether my taste buds revolted.
I also find Weetabix very comforting, and while I had braces on my teeth there were many extremely painful days where all I could eat was soggy Weetabix.
The Muesli age (40 - ?)
Over the last year or so, I've found myself coveting Kat's breakfast cereal of choice, muesli.
If you'd told me from the past about this I would have laughed in your face, but to mangle Shakespeare, a man loves the cereal in his age that he cannot endure in his youth.
I've tried a whole bunch of muesli in the last twelve months, but none of them quite cut it. I want something without added sugar, salt or skimmed milk powder so Alpen is out. I want something with the right balance of fruit to nuts, and Brazil nuts seem to make my mouth tingle in a bad way so Jordan's and the Dorset Cereals range are out. I also want something that's reasonably nutritious without too many calories so granola is out, and that leaves me with one option: make my own.
So here are the results of my experiments to find the perfect muesli. If you want to try experimenting, you can change the ingredient sliders below - share your recipe in the comments.
Nutrition values per serving (0g)
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Make a batch
To make 500g of this recipe you'll need:
Use the sliders below to specify quantities of ingredients per serving:0g Jumbo oats 0g Wheat flakes 0g Almond flakes 0g Mixed vine fruit 0g Dessicated coconut 0g Dried apricots 0g Dried apple 0g Mixed seeds 0g Chopped hazelnuts 0g Dried papaya 0g Dried cranberries
Being nice to my future self
I've been working on this as a concept for a long time and I wanted to write it down to clarify it for myself, although of course you're welcome to read it too.
It's a pretty straightforward idea. When I was young I used to go out and get blind drunk or whatever, even when I knew that I had to get up early to work the next day.
Come the morning and the inevitable hangover, I'd be cursing myself for not taking it easy or going to bed before 3am.
After a while, I became aware that the person who had to get up early was actually me, and I could make life better for that person. It's not just me, research suggests that most people have the same level of compassion for their future selves as they do for other people in the present.
This idea was first described by Derek Parfit in a book called Reasons and Persons in the 1980s. He suggested that our future selves aren't really us at all, which comes about by a series of tiny changes in ourselves, day by day.
As psychologist Hal Hershfield says,
It's fine to think about that future self as another person—it just has to be another person you feel close to and have a lot of overlap with. The marriages that work best and the friendships that work best are the ones where people feel like the other person is almost part of them. So perhaps the key to being "future-conscious" is making sure that, insofar as our future self feels like someone else, it's someone we love and care about.
How does this help?
By making you more connected with your future self, you're less likely to procrastinate and more likely to do things that are beneficial.
There's now a website, futureme.org, where you can write emails to your future self. I've written myself a message to be delivered a year from today, containing my hopes for what my future self will be doing.
US Bank Merrill Edge have launched a website called Face Retirement that shows how you're going to look at retirement age in an effort to make you save more into your pension.
I really hope I don't look like this at 67.
But I get the general principle. Feel like eating the entire cake? Want to stay up to 5am because Bryan's still awake and you have Fear Of Missing Out? Might as well finish the bottle?
Think about what your future self would say, and listen to them/you.
Tomorrow morning you'll feel okay, and you can say "thanks, me from the past!"
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