Despite the decline in millennials consuming cereal, apparently 40 % surveyed said they don’t want to clean the bowl and spoon, (seriously…talk about lazy, and we wonder why American kids are overweight), I believe cereal can be a healthy breakfast option. Let me be clear, not the cereal that turns your milk into a sweet and gooey random color looking soup.
The catch is knowing what to look for and what to avoid. Manufacturers are very sneaky and master manipulators.
An optimal cereal looks like this:
- Roughly 200 calories per serving.
- 2 or more grams of protein per serving.
- At least 3, but shoot for 5 grams, or more, of fiber per serving.
- Less than 3 grams or fat and no trans fat.
- 8 grams or less of sugar per serving (some cereals have dried fruits and dried fruits are high in sugar. If the cereal has more than 8 grams or sugar but meets the other parameters, it’s probably still an acceptable choice as long as you stick with the stated serving size).
Heres the low down:
1- Shelf space is crucial. Eye level cereal is most likely reserved for the heavily marketed not so healthy cereal. Look up or down for the healthier options.
2- Read labels and not marketing claims. For example, a “contains no cholesterol” claim should be ignored. Of course it has no cholesterol, only animal products contain cholesterol.
3- Cereals touting they contain yogurt and therefore calcium…steer clear. The yogurt is nothing more than added sugar and palm kernel oil (aka saturated fats). The calcium is added, meaning synthetic, made in a factory. I prefer calcium from a glass of non-fat organic milk.
4- Serving size- Stick to it. Sometimes manufactures claim their cereal is superior when in-fact the serving size is super small resulting in multiple serving sizes.
5- Sugar is often written in “tricky” ways (as my daughter says). Honey, cane sugar, natural sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, agave syrup, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, barley malt, dextrose, rice syrup are all…sugar!
6- Hydrogenated oils. If you see the word “hydrogenated” in the ingredient list…put it down, walk away, and don’t look back.
7- Fiber. Look for natural fibers. Not these: Inulin, maltodextrin, oat fiber, soy fiber, modified wheat starch, sugarcane fiber, and polydextrose may not have beneficial properties like real fiber does. Look for the word whole as the first ingredient. For example, whole oats, whole fiber, and whole grain are all good fiber sources.
8- Real fruit. If there is real fruit in the cereal, it will be stated on the ingredient list.
No need to pigeon hole cereal for breakfast only. Cereal is also great as a snack, dry or with milk, mixed into yogurt, and added to a homemade trail mix.
Cereal is a quicks and easy fix for the non- breakfast eaters out there. Surly, 1 bowl and 1 spoon isn’t gonna rob you of valuable time.