01 Mar Myth Buster: Cereal
By Alissa Fogelson, Contributing Blogger
Take a minute and think about your childhood, watching TV and chowing down on some yummy Lucky Charms. If you were anything like me, you probably picked out all the marshmallows first and then sipped on some of that delicious sugar-filled milk.
You wouldn’t do that now, though, would you? Instead, you probably enjoy a bowl of Smart Start cereal and think that you are making the responsible and healthy choice to fuel your body. Right? Wrong! Believe it or not, many so-called “health” cereals are marketed to make you think they are healthier than they are. Here’s proof: one serving of Raisin Bran contains 18 grams of sugar. That’s 8 grams more than Lucky Charms!
But don’t worry, breakfast cereals aren’t all bad. Use these quick tips to build a healthy cereal meal.
- Watch the serving size.
Unfortunately, not all cereals are measured with the same serving size. Whereas a granola cereal may have 120 calories in a ¼ cup, another cereal may have that same amount of calories in ¾ cup. Make sure you check the serving size on the label to avoid going overboard on calories and sugar.
- Look at the ingredients carefully.
Marketing tactics on cereal labels can be confusing. “Made with whole grains” is not the same as “100% whole grain.” And ‘wheat’ is different than ‘whole wheat’. When choosing a breakfast cereal, look for the phrase ‘whole wheat’ or ‘whole grains’. That means you are getting more heart-healthy fiber and better-for-you ingredients.
- Add your own finishing touches.
Complete your cereal with some sliced fruit, like strawberries and bananas. This addition will provide a boost of nutrients and fiber, which will keep you full until lunch time. To add some protein, enjoy your cereal with a hard boiled egg, or some sliced nuts. You won’t be sorry!
Don’t let your head spin with all of this new information. Next time you’re at the supermarket, look out for Barbara’s Puffins, Kashi Heart to Heart, or Cascadian Farms. Now, you can sit each morning and enjoy your cereal with a sound mind, knowing that you really are making the kind choice for your body.
Alissa Fogelson is a senior at Harrison High School. She is passionate about nutrition and dance, and values the role healthy eating plays in maintaining an active lifestyle. She plans to pursue dietetics and eventually become a registered dietitian nutritionist.