Like many of my fellow college age students, I grew up in a fast paced family that rarely made time for a well thought out breakfast. Although this was probably dreadful for my health, at the very least my young self got to participate in the biweekly ritual of cereal choosing. And, like most children do when given free reign over the cereal aisle, I based all my decisions on which sugar based goodness appealed to me the most.
But as I became more informed about making healthy choices, I realized that there is probably something to that sugary gloss found on Fruit Loops that I should not be happy about. (Fruit Loops first ingredient? Sugar.)
Making the switch to a healthier lifestyle does not mean a person has to make drastic changes to their eating routine to get results. Success comes from making those little changes here and there that eventually add up to a decent decrease in calorie intake. Although in a perfect world we would all have time to cook ourselves a nice breakfast every morning, it simply is not the case.
When choosing a cereal, you want to be on the lookout for three key things. You want a high amount of fiber, to ensure that hunger does not debilitate you before lunchtime, a moderate amount of calories, to provide some energy to get through the day, and as little sugar as possible.
But when you visit the cereal aisle, things are not always so clear cut. Just about every box out there has latched on to the buzz words of “More Fiber!”, but it is important to understand that there are no standards that regulate when a cereal can claim to be a good source of it. Also, just because a cereal has moderate levels of fiber does not mean that the producers of said cereal also did you a favor in lowering both the amount of calories and sugar. Take a look at Fruit Loops again. The 3g of fiber per serving is completely overshadowed by the 12g sugar that tags along.
So, what do you do? The king of fiber cereals has the word right in the title: Fiber One Original. Fiber One comes with a whopping 14g of fiber per serving, with absolutely no sugar (0g) to worry about, and it has only 60 calories per portion. Although no sugar at all sounds a little “bland,” it is nothing that cannot be solved with some sliced strawberries or bananas. (I am a fan of almond milk, which adds its own sort of sweetness to the mix.)
A little too drastic on the scale? Still feeling the tug of childhood? There is always Kix. Yes, the classic kid’s cereal actually does a decent job of providing a balanced offering of fiber (3g per serving) and sugar (3g per serving) with an okay amount of calories (110). Just make sure to keep the portions under control!
If neither of these appeal to you, that is fine, but I encourage you to spend a little more time on your next grocery trip while picking a cereal, and take a glance at the nutritional facts. What you thought was good for your body might have a sugary secret.