Choosing Healthy Breakfast Cereal.

STOP, before you take that bite of cereal. Can you see white powder coating that cereal? Can you spot a glaze on your morning bites? Are you typically hungry an hour after eating that bowl of sugar? On my May quest to reduce the amount of added and artificial sugar in my diet, I thought I would share some of the cereals that are my go-tos for a healthy option.

I would never suggest to replace eggs and fruit or greek yogurt with cereal for breakfast because I think there are a ton of options that are far more nutritious than cereal but the fact is, it is convenient, variable, and if done right – filling and nutritious. Cereal can be a great snack or meal, morning or night, as long as two things are kept in check… HOW MUCH is in your bowl, and WHAT cereal you are choosing.

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A few things to consider when picking a cereal:

1. Fiber: Cereals were originally designed decades ago for people to start their day with a healthy dose of fiber. Mr. Kellogg himself believed bran-filled cereal would increase the health of Americans significantly because fiber was and still is an underestimated dietary component!

Daily recommendations suggest 25g of fiber daily, so aim to get >4g of fiber in your serving of cereal.

2. Sugar: While cereal as I mentioned was originally designed for health benefits, if you take a walk down the supermarket aisles entirely dedicated to cereal, most bright and colourful boxes are FULL of sugar. Choosing the options with the least amount of sugar are your best bet. There are cereals out there that contain ZERO added sugar… I promise, they’re there… you just might have to dodge a fruit loop or two to find them!

Try searching for a cereal with less than 5g of sugar.

3. Protein: Cereal is typically a carbohydrate-heavy option but recent products have come on the market with added protein to help give the bowl some staying power. Soy milk or skim milk will also boost the protein content, as well topping greek yogurt with cereal will added even more.

Cereals with at least 5g of protein will hold up better than those with fewer.

4. Ingredients: Take a peek just below that nutrition panel and see what is actually in your cereal. There are 56 names of sugar and cereal companies will try and use each and every one of them. Make sure you are picking cereals with short ingredient lists, and if sugar IS on the list, keep it towards the end.

5. Serving Size: Before pouring your bowl, grab a measuring cup and see how much a single serving is. Unknowingly pouring 3 servings could lead one to underestimate the number of calories in the bowl, as well as triple the amount of sugar and carbohydrates.

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Which cereals are the healthiest?

  • Hot cereal… aka. oatmeal. You knew this one was coming because I talk about oatmeal every second day, but oatmeal is a truly healthy breakfast option.
    • (1/2 cup dry quick oats) 180 calories; 4g fiber; 1g sugar; 6g protein
  • Puffed Wheat. 
    • (1.25 cup) 55 calories; 1g fiber; 0g sugar; 2g protein
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal.
    • (1 cup) 210 calories; 4g fiber; 7g sugar; 6g protein
  • Post Shredded Wheat and Bran.
    • (1 cup) 170 calories; 7g fiber; 0g sugar; 6g protein
  • Post Grape Nuts.
    • (1/2 cup) 210 calories; 7g fiber; 5g sugar; 6g protein

If you’re used to cocoa puffs and mini wheats, these cereals might seem bland, but there are better ways to increase the taste AND nutrition of the cereals than sugar… cinnamon, switching up milk – try soy milk, fresh fruit such as blueberries, slivered nuts, seeds, or a small amount of dried fruit such as raisins to increase iron content!

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What is YOUR favourite cereal? 

Do you have cereal as a snack or meal? Or is it a treat?

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