I remember once going on a visit to my grandparent's house. My grandmother took me grocery shopping and allowed me to pick out any cereal I wanted. With my new freedom, I headed straight to the sugary cereal and picked out the best (read: worst) one I could find. To this day I remember that first morning of sleepily walking out to the kitchen and pouring my sugary cereal. After a large bowl, I felt terrible.

 

Don't get me wrong, I liked the cereal. It was definitely an unusual treat for me. While my mother would buy us cereal, she didn't let us get the super-sweet versions, and often fed us eggs or oatmeal for breakfast as well. But when I got home two weeks later from that visit, I was more than happy to return to more wholesome fare.

 

So, I wasn't surprised when EWG (Environmental Working Group) investigated cold cereals, they found that many contain an alarming amount of sugar. For example, a one-cup serving of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks contains 20 grams of sugar. For comparison sake, a Twinkie contains 18 grams of sugar. Other top offenders include Post Golden Crisp, Quaker Oat Ohs! and Kellogg’s Apple Jacks. If you wouldn't serve your kids a Twinkie for breakfast, should you really let them pour a large bowl of one of these cereals? 

 

One has to wonder what the effect of all of this sugar is on kid's system. How does it play into a child's performance at school, his ability to concentrate, and his general sense of well-being?

 

Going back to my own story from childhood, when I had the opportunity, I jumped at buying the sugary cereal. Your kids probably will, too. But in my case, I quickly realized that I didn't feel very well after eating it — but I couldn't quite seem to stop myself. I still needed some parental oversight over my eating choices. I am grateful that my mother fed us nourishing breakfasts on a consistent basis, because, if left to my own choices, I would have certainly been reaching for more sweet versions.

 

Thankfully, it's an easy fix for American parents. Stop buying sugary cereal and start buying less sweetened cereals (check out EWG's best cereals section on their report). Better yet, start making them a "real food" breakfast. Options include scrambled eggs and toast, oatmeal, fruit smoothies (made with yogurt and frozen fruit) and much more. When you include fiber and protein with breakfast, your kids will feel full longer and I think that we all know that the nutritional value of these homemade breakfasts beats cereals any day. (No, the low-quality vitamins sprayed all over cold cereals do not make it nutritious, in my opinion.)

 

What about you? What do you feed your children for breakfast?

 

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