What’s in our cereal ingredients? This topic comes up frequently and one we should take to heart for our family. Not only should we concern ourselves with the amount of sugar our kids eat, but also the artificial ingredients and food dyes in our cereal too. The meal that starts the day for most Americans isn’t a bowl of oatmeal or an omelet and breakfast potatoes. It’s ready-to-eat cereal. Behind beverages and bread, cereal is America’s most popular purchase in the grocery store.
In our Bible Study group and Mom was talking about her daughter and just how rough it was getting for her at school. She was getting into trouble consistently, and the Mom and Teacher weren’t sure what to do anymore. I happened to be standing next to the Mom and asked some questions, and one of them was what she gave her daughter before school for breakfast. It happened to be a sugary cereal with various color food dyes. I shared with her to make a change with her breakfast she fed her every morning before school. A few weeks later during another Bible Study, she came up to me in tears with a heartfelt thank you and a BIG BEAR HUG! The simple change in her daughters’ breakfast was an enormous change in her daughters’ behavior. This couldn’t have been at a better time with her husband deployed, as she was at her wits end in patience.
What’s a better choice for your kids
The $6 billion industry has been declining in recent years, but Americans still eat a lot of it. How do we keep the added sugar cereal is known for to a minimum? Sure oatmeal with fruit and nuts are the ideal for a healthy whole grain breakfast, but not everyone can give up their cereal bowls.
Here’s how familiar cereals stack up on the added sugar front. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories of added sugar a day for women and 150 for men. So our children need much less. A single serving of some cereals exceeds this amount. Take the most popular breakfast cereals in America: Honey Nut Cheerios, Special K, and Honey Bunches of Oats.
Honey Nut Cheerios – 110 Calories
Serving Size: 3/4 cup, Protein: 2g, Added Sugars: 9g, Fiber: 2g
A better Cheerios choice may be regular Cheerios which boasts just 1 gram of added sugar in its 1 cup serving size. Multigrain Cheerios has a little less sugar than the Honey Nut variety at 6 grams, and its larger 1 cup serving size boasts the same 110 calories with an extra gram of fiber.
Special K Original – 120 Calories
Serving Size: 1 cup, Protein: 6g, Added Sugars: 4g, Fiber: 0g
The calorie count of this rice-based cereal got some unwanted publicity recently as an advertisement was deemed misleading for not mentioning the additional calorie count of added milk. The Advertising Standards Authority banned the commercial saying Kelloggs should have made clear the calories listed did not include milk calories. So you know, a cup of 2% milk would add 122 calories. Interesting how they didn’t mention the fact that the ad calls the 1 cup serving a bowl.
Honey Bunches of Oats – 120 Calories
Serving Size: 3/4 cup, Protein: 2g, Added Sugars: 6g, Fiber: 2g
I like that their website mentions a serving has the same amount of calories as Special K, without pointing out that their serving size is a 1/4 cup smaller. Also interesting about this cereal is despite its name, corn, wheat, and sugar are listed before oats, meaning it’s more like sugar bunches of corn. To be fair there is honey in the ingredient list as well, just happens to be after salt, rice flour, vegetable oil and a few other ingredients.
More Filling Options
If you go for the fewer sugar claims, be extra vigilant in checking that yours doesn’t include artificial sweeteners. Some cereals get away with no added sugar labels but hide the fact they use artificial sweeteners. Fiber One and Special K Protein Plus are two examples. While a recent study in the Journal of Nutrition suggests foods, including cereals, that use artificial sweeteners can help control caloric intake, the findings show they may not be as satiating. To help you stay full, find those with high protein and fiber content that aren’t too big on sugar. Many kinds of cereal bump up the protein grams with soy. Also, some high fiber cereals have smaller serving sizes, so if the calorie count looks minuscule, it’s probably because the serving size is smaller than usual. Additional calories may be nutritionally justified with the extra protein and fiber.
No Added Sugar
It’s slim pickings, but there are cereal options that have no added sugar. The drawback is that many also are scant on nutritional value. Adding sliced banana, blueberries, strawberries, or even a tablespoon of honey with protein-rich nuts will give these everyday offerings a boost without the multiple sweeteners many other brands of cereal have. These also don’t have salt in their ingredient lists, something many other brands have in considerable amounts.
Do you eat more than the suggested serving size of your favorite cereal?