Cereal is one of the most common breakfast foods that people consume everyday! At a first glance, cereal might seem like a healthy choice. There are many marketing claims exhibited in bold letters on the box such as "Low Fat!", "High Fiber!", "Heart Healthy!", etc. So are cereals healthy or unhealthy? Unfortunetly most of the cereals you see in the grocery store are not so healthy, so the answer is that it depends on the ingredients. You have to learn to be able to read nutrition and ingredient labels to be your own advocate at the grocery store and ignore claims on the packaging. Not all cereal is created equal so here are so tips for choosing the right one!
Limit Added Sugars!
Many cereals tend to contain a lot of added sugars. This can make it more addicting and can put you at risk for diabetes and insulin resistance. Choose cereals that contain fewer than 8g of sugar per serving.
Look at Portion Sizes
Pay attention to portion sizes listed on the packaging. This is very important because cereals are designed to be hyper-palatible. Measure how much you are eating when you serve yourself a bowl of cereal. If you consume more than the serving size you will most likely be having too much sugar!
Avoid Refined Carbohydrates
Many cereals are highly processed and made from refined carbohydrates. When these grains are refined they are stripped of almost all of their vitamins and essential nutrients. Make sure to buy cereal made from whole grains, not corn, rice, and refined grains. Starting your day with refined carbohydrates and added sugars can cause your blood sugar levels and insulin to spike and set you on a blood sugar roller coaster the rest of the day. This means that a couple hours later your body will crave a high carbohydrate snack or meal and this cycle will continue.
Avoid Harmful Additives
In addition to refined carbs and cerals, many cereals also contain harmful additives and preservatives. Many cereals on the market contain BHT and BHA which are very harmful to our health as they been shown to cause cancer! Both of those ingredients are banned in Europe. Unfortunately they are found in many of out common cereals here in the US like Frosted Flakes, Wheaties, and Fruit Loops.
Look for High Fiber
Many cereals claim to be high in fiber but are made with refined grains. Fiber is important for fullness and keeping our blood sugars stable. Make sure when you are buying cereal it contains at least 4 grams of fiber per serving.
Balance Your Meals!
To avoid unstable blood sugar levels you can try to add some protein and healthy fats to your cereal. Add foods like nuts or seeds to help increase fullness! My favorite addition is sliced almond and chia seeds.
Here are a couple of cereal brands I recommend with healthy ingredients!
Arrowhead Mills Spelt Flakes
Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Stayle Muesli
Cascadian Farms Organic
Ezekiel Sprouted Grains Cereal
Kashi Cinnamon Harvest
Kashi Go Lean
Love Grown GF
Nature’s Path Organics Superfood Cereals
Post Grape Nuts
Certified Nutrition Specialist and Licensed Dietician/Nutritionist Jessica Mantell
NextGeneration Nutrition believes that better health should be accessible to everyone and that we all are able to improve our health through good nutrition, physical activity, and lifestyle change. We do not support setting shame-based goals but encourages embracing our bodies, genetics, and personality. Our philosophy is abandoning the “One Size Fits All” mentality to create a personalized wellness plan based on your biological makeup and your lifestyle. For more information connect with us on Social Media or send us a message!