Kids nowadays get up every morning, pour a bowl of cereal, and become entranced by the various puzzles and games that companies like Kellogg’s and General Mills put on the back of the box. For adults, on the other hand, it’s the cereal nutrition label that piques their interest in the morning as they monitor their daily intake of calories and fat in their food diary or journal. One size does not fit all, though, when trying to hash out the different labels and facts. Each cereal seems to have a different approach depending on how it is branded and advertised. Below are just a few of the things to consider as you look over the labels at your own breakfast table.
This is probably the biggest misconception among cereals out there. Most breakfast cereals list a serving size in two ways: in cups and then in grams (g). However, a 1/2 cup of, say, grape nuts (which weighs 58 g) does not equal a 1/2 cup of Chex (which weighs about 15 g—just a quarter of the weight!). This is because cups are a measurement of volume while grams are a measurement of weight.
Since all cereals come in different shapes and sizes, from puffed rice to hard clusters, their volumes can vary drastically, and this in turn can affect their serving size. To combat this, you should weigh the cereal using a food scale to make sure that you know just how many grams you’re putting into the bowl, and thus how many calories you’re putting in your system.
Since a lot of cereals are made with kids in mind, it is unavoidable that they will contain sugar because, after all,” a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” However, though sugar does improve flavor, it increases the amount of calories without adding any nutritional value. Keep in mind that if your goal daily caloric intake is 1600, you should not be consuming more than 24 g of sugar per day. One serving of Post Raisin Bran provides 19 g, almost all of your daily allowance!
Cereals can also be a good source of dietary fiber, which can lower your risk of digestive problems and even help you lose weight. Dietary Fiber content can also be a good indicator of how satisfied you’ll feel after you’ve finished eating, as foods higher in fiber tend to make you feel fuller longer. Fiber is also less energy dense, meaning that foods with high amounts tend to have fewer calories, while still providing a satisfying meal.
The knock on high fiber cereals used to be that what you gained in nutrition you lost in flavor. However, nowadays there are a wide variety of delicious cereals, especially those made by Kashi, that provide a healthy dose of the fiber you need. So start your morning off right with a nutritious and satisfying bowl of cereal!