Breakfast Cereals: What to choose?

bowl of cereal

I know most of us are short of time in the morning, but that’s no excuse to not eat breakfast and a healthy one at that.  There are countless options for a quick breakfast, some of which can be prepared in advance and some that take a matter of minutes to whip up.  Check out my previous blog post that provides some healthy snacks that could just as easily be part of a healthy breakfast.

When you may choose to have breakfast, the common breakfast cereal is the first thing to reach for no doubt, with it being calculated that about ten 750g boxes of cereal is consumed by each person per year (That’s 7.5 kgs a year!).  But is that really the healthiest option?

These days there are hundreds of breakfast cereals on the market; multi coloured, chocolate flavoured, fruity, oaty, sugar laden, round, square, clustered, you name it and your local supermarket will most likely stock it.   I’m sure many people would know that most of them contain quite a hearty dose of sugar, in fact much more than you really should be consuming.  Not to mention it is ultimately refined sugar, which can cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels, causing a burst of energy without sustaining energy levels until your next meal.  Surprisingly to some, most contain quite a bit of sodium as well (ie. salt), of which a bowl of cereal can contribute to over 1/5th of your daily sodium requirements.

fruit loops

Although the consumption of breakfast by adults can be a concern, an even bigger concern is whether or not children are getting a nutritious breakfast.  With breakfast being such an important meal, and potentially contributing to overall growth, development (both physical and cognitive) as well as concentration in children, it is imperative that they are being fuelled with nutritious, satiating foods in the morning.  A study looking at nutritional differences between children’s vs. non-children’s breakfast cereals shows the 46% of cereals marketed to children were reported to be denser in energy, sugar and sodium and lower in fibre and protein than non-children’s cereal.  Yet another staggering figure was the 66% of children’s cereals that did not meet national nutrition standards!!!  When you break down the figures, that is over 30% of cereals being marketed to, and consumed by children that are not nutritionally adequate.

One way you can be sure that you’re getting all the right nutrients to keep you fuelled throughout the day is by making your own breakfast cereal, my personal favourite being muesli.  This way, you can know exactly what you will be putting into your body.  There is a limited amount of fats and sugars when compared to the amount of oats, fruit and nuts, both of which are also preferable sources of unsaturated fats and complex carbohydrates.  Keep in mind that when you’re pouring that cereal into your bowl it’s very easy to have a slip of the hand and end up with twice as much your recommended serving size, this being ½ a cup; however you don’t need to eat much of this delicious muesli to fill you up, so have a go at making my delicious Homemade Muesli.

IMAG1124

There are so many options for nutritious, quick and easy meals that you can have for breakfast, with a few of my favourites being:

–          Poached eggs and ham on wholegrain toast, with avocado
–          Low fat yoghurt with fresh fruit
–          Homemade muffins
–          Porridge with maple syrup and fresh berries
–          Fruit smoothie with LSA

If you’re at the supermarket trying to choose what cereal to buy, look for those that are least processed and have minimal amounts of sugar and sodium; such as shredded wheat, weetbix, some mueslis (be sure to check the sugar and sodium content as they can vary greatly) and rolled oats, all of which can be incorporated with other ingredients to make a nutritious and filling breakfast that will keep you fuelled until your next snack or meal.

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