Greetings! Today’s post is for all my moms out there who are avid readers of my blog. BUTTT, even if you’re not a mom, you will definitely benefit from today’s post. Because today, we’re going to talk about cereal.
I know that mornings are super busy for most of you. Whether you’re prepping your kids for a day of school or getting ready for a busy day at the office (or maybe both!), a lot of people start their day with a bowl of cereal and milk.
Done the right way, this can be a perfectly healthy way to start your day. But if you’re not careful, cereal can be a sugary choice that contributes to cravings and weight gain. Try these simple, no nonsense tips for taking a conventional bowl of cereal and making it super healthy!
1. Pick a Cereal That Uses Whole Grains (& Is Gluten-Free If You Need It)
As much as you love your Captain Crunch, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Lucky Charms, those are not cereals you should be reaching for on a regular basis. Most of these cereals use refined grains and sugars that you and your child do not want to eat.
Conventional cereals are often loaded with refined grains and artificial ingredients. Save these cereals for the weekends or other special occasions. Instead, look for brands that have minimal ingredients you can actually pronounce.
Not sure you want to spend big bucks on a healthy cereal that your child might only eat three times before they’re “bored” with it? Check out the back of this Cheerios box:
Simple, no bullsh*t, real ingredients. Even with some conventional cereals, you know what you’re getting. All you need to do is take a minute and read the ingredients label!
2. Cereal Should Have No More Than 9 Grams of Sugar
Photo Credit: Nature’s Path
This is another problem I have with the traditional cereals for children at most grocery stores. They’re loaded with sugar!
Cereals you buy should have no more than 9 grams of sugar per serving. If your child needs for sweetness, try natural alternatives like fruit first. If you must use something like honey, table sugar, or other sweetener, measure this out by the teaspoon. It’s so easy for parents to go overboard on this. Measuring sugar is key to making sure your kids don’t overload on it.
3. Swap Cow’s Milk For Milk Substitute (or Yogurt)
Photo Credit: My Vega
This next tip is up for debate. For the record, if you/your child don’t have a problem with dairy, by no means feel compelled to eliminate it. For many children, cow’s milk is a great source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and other key nutrients. But for some children and adults, a milk substitute is necessary.
Whether you choose soy, almond, cashew, or coconut is again up to you and what’s best for your child. I suggest picking a substitute that has been fortified with calcium, and most brands are pretty good about doing this. Actually, the almond milk I drink almost every day has more calcium in in than conventional skim milk. Try different flavors/varieties until you find the milk that works for you and your family.
4. Use Fruit To Add Sweetness Instead of Refined Sugars and Sweeteners
Photo Credit: Les Eclaireuses
As a child, one of my favorite cereals was Frosted Flakes. Not surprisingly, when my mom tried to give me plain corn flakes one day instead of Frosted Flakes, I remember getting into a huge fight with her because the plain corn flakes ‘tasted funny.’
I now know why I didn’t like those plain corn flakes: sugar.
Again, most children’s cereals are loaded with sugar. Shift the control from the food company’s hand to your hand by picking plain cereals and sweetening them yourself.
One of my favorite ways to get children to get more plants into their diets is to work fruits and veggies into foods they already eat. Cereal is a great way to work berries and other fruits into your or your child’s diet. Check out this super delicious bowl of cereal I made for myself the other day!
5. Watch Your Portion Size
I know, I know. It’s super simple to fill your bowl to the brim with cereal, drown it in milk, scarf it down, and then justify pouring more cereal to finish eating the pool of milk that’s leftover.
Follow the recommended serving sizes on the cereal’s nutrition label to gage the right portion size. For children, many cereal companies now offer nutrition information and serving sizes for children 4 and under. Use these servings sizes to determine how much is right for your kind.
6. Keep It Simple, Fun, and Fresh
At the end of the day, do I want you stressing over every ounce or cereal you’re eating? Should you freak out if your favorite cereal has 10 grams of sugar and not nine? Ultimately, no. Food isn’t just about nutrition. It’s about enjoying what you eat, and for many people in the mornings, it’s about making something quick and easy. Keep your daily bowl of cereal fresh by trying different brands and adding different fruits/mix-ins. This way, you’ll never have a dull moment.
What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy cereal in the morning? Comment below and let me know!