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Avoiding Sugary Cereals

When I was little, every Sunday, my mom used to drive my brother and I to my grandmother’s house, where she would take us to church. After church, we always stopped by the local grocery store and somehow, someway, my brother and I would finagle our way into each getting a box of cereal. And this wouldn’t be any ordinary cereal, it was SUGARY cereal. Oh the joy! My grandmother would then drive us back to her house, where we would jump out of the car, and run inside, wanting to show my mom what we got. Now, sugar wasn’t really allowed in our neck of the woods, so my mother would give a big sigh, and make a compromise that we could eat it, as long as we mixed it with a non-sugary cereal (such as Cheerios). This lasted until my grandmother got too old to drive, which meant my mom would drop off us off at church, and the whole grocery store part would be skipped. And by that age, I was already moving on to Crispix and Special K, so it didn’t really matter.

Now that I’m a mom, I cringe when my son asks for Fruit Loops or Cinnamon Toasted Crunch and can totally relate to how my mother felt. One time, it was my son’s turn to take snack to school, and I somehow let him talk me into getting a box of Fruit Loops and some bananas. I received a scolding from the teacher (the school has a strict no sugar policy), and slinked away, embarrassed.

But how did my son know about these cereals in the first place? When I started to analyze it, I see that he gained his knowledge at the point where he grew out of PBS Kids and Playhouse Disney and was watching Nick Jr. and Cartoon Network. In other words, it was television with commercials. Talk about the power of marketing. We can walk down the cereal aisle at the store and he recites every slogan, every jingle, just by looking at a box. It’s ridiculous. So how do you stand your ground and not be suckered in (as I was on snack day)?

First off, do exactly that–stand your ground. Yes, I know it’s hard, especially on days when you run out of coffee and you’re feeling especially tired. But, you gotta do it.

Secondly, try to limit the commercials. I know, I know, television can be a savior, but if you’re lucky enough to have DVR, use it. Fast forward all those 30 second marketing blitzes.

Third–read the ingredient list. Is sugar at the top of the list? Then avoid it.

Here are some more suggestions from e-How:

  • Beware of sugar cereals disguised as healthy cereals. This includes cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios, MultiGrain Cheerios and Frosted Mini Wheats. These all have sugar fairly high on the ingredients list, which as we know is a red flag. This is where reading food labels comes in handy.
  • Know what makes a good cereal. Cheerios, for example, is a classic brand that is healthy (not the sugary versions like Honey Nut, but the original kind). Sugar is fairly low on the ingredients list; the cereal is high in fiber; and oats are a healthy grain. Make these cereals more interesting to your kids by adding berries, dried fruit and raw nuts. Now that’s a healthy breakfast!
  • Know your portion sizes. Most of us pour cereal out of the box without measuring. With healthier cereals this isn’t as much of a problem. Two servings of a high-sugar cereal like Corn Pops, however, can be seriously detrimental to your child’s health.

Good luck! And may YOU be the master in the cereal department, not your children!

One Response to “Avoiding Sugary Cereals”

  • Love your post about the sugary cereals. I have four kids and finding the right food to start their day off is so important! Have you ever tried Dee’s Cereal? I’ve heard they are coming out with a new product line, offering an Apple Cinnamon flavor. There are 18 all natural ingredients inside. There are many ways to prepare it and add it to muffin recipes! I thought I would share!
    Thanks!

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