How to Pick a Healthy Breakfast Cereal
A bowl of Oh’s cereal takes me back to wonderful memories eating a late night snack with my Great Grandfather. I loved that cereal and still do. It kept its crunch long after it had been soaking in milk and then of course you got to drink the cereal milk at the end. Who doesn’t love cereal milk?
I would spend my Summer vacation with him in Florida and we would sit together and watch TV while snacking on our bowls of cereal. Until this very day, when I’m stressed out, I seek out that same box of cereal, and even though he’s not here with us anymore it makes me feel like he is. I’m not sure if my kids will have the same experience I had with cereal, but I do know that they like it. What’s important to me is that they enjoy their favorite food in the most healthy way possible. Even if it’s only cereal.
If you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or have had a conversation that’s more than 2 minutes long, you’ll know that I’m the sugar police. I hate processed sugar, but I have a huge sweet tooth. So I’m always on the lookout for healthy alternatives to my favorite sweet treats.
I’m not a huge cereal eater, but I do like to enjoy a nice bowl here and there. Since my kids love cereal, my mission has always been finding a healthy breakfast cereal for them. That’s a hard hunt even for the Healthy Chef Lady!
Today, I’m walking you down the cereal aisle to help you find a healthy breakfast cereal your family will enjoy. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way when it comes to cereal over the last few years. Even national brands have upped their game thanks to people speaking out about what they want. Your bowl of cereal doesn’t have to be a sugar bomb in the morning anymore! I have some personal favorites I’m going to share with you.
I want to be straightforward and clarify I do not get paid to endorse these products at all. I just love to share the good products I find.
There are 4 things to look for when choosing a healthy cereal.
- Sugar content
How much sugar is in the cereal and what kind of sugar are they using? Some people say sugar is sugar, but I disagree. White sugar is the most processed sugar out there! I always try to look for cereals that are sweetened with honey, brown rice syrup, cane syrup or maple syrup which are hard to find. I also look for the amount of sugar in each serving. Because at the end of the day no matter how healthy of a sweetener it is, it should always be in moderation. I choose cereals that have 9 grams or less of sugar per serving. Great brands that I love and use natural sweeteners and healthy Ingredients are Erewhon, Love Grown Foods, Barbara’s, Ezekiel & Nature’s Path.My friend Maria lives on Nature’s Path Flax Plus Pumpkin Raisin Crunch!
- Protein & Fiber
Fiber & protein are extremely important to have in your diet. Protein stabilizes your blood sugar levels and your body uses protein to make enzymes, hormones & other body chemicals. Fiber is so important for colon & gut health. Fiber keeps your food flowing in the body. This is important because you don’t want to keep waste in the body any longer than it has to be. You want your food to come in, soak up all the vitamins & minerals and leave. My favorite cereal has a great source of fiber and protein from beans. Yes, I said beans & cereal in the same sentence. Look for Love Grown Foods in your cereal aisle. Their cereal is made out of beans and if you ate it you wouldn’t even know. Try and find cereals that offer a good amount of protein, at least 5 grams or more per serving. The same applies to fiber, the cereal you choose should have at least 4 grams of fiber.
If you don’t read the label you’d never know the amount of sodium you are consuming. Take a look at a can of tomatoes the next time you are shopping. If you opened the can and tasted a tomato you’d have no idea that there was a ton of salt in it because it doesn’t taste like it, but it has an enormous amount of added salt. So do a lot of cereals. Be sure to check out the sodium amount. “Your sodium amount should be no more than 170 mg per serving” says Rebecca Meyerson, MS Certified Nutrition Counselor at Simply Healthy Living.
- Ingredient List
Last but certainly not least, I check out the actual ingredients listed. My number one rule is, “if I can’t pronounce it, I am not eating it!” It’s just that simple. If I have to sound it out, I am definitely not eating that bad boy. I look for easy to read words and words I recognize. And I choose the shortest ingredient list I see with the most recognizable words. With that being said most people can pronounce high fructose corn syrup but, it’s not good for you. Choose cereals whose labels look like this. Simple and minimum amounts of ingredients listed.
It may take a few weeks of trial and error but eventually you’ll find a great tasting and healthy cereal that your kid, and you, will love.
Have you found a great cereal that is made with great ingredients and your family loves it?
Share with us below in the comments. I would love to hear about everyone’s favorite, and your recommendations will help other parents. Here are a few more articles on choosing healthy breakfast cereals I thought you would love.