Cereal 101–Tips To Pick The Best Cereal!

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Hey, hey, hey! In honor of National Nutrition (yeah, March is National Nutrition Month) I would like to help you shop in the grocery store!  Let me take you down the aisle and let’s talk!  Oh how, I miss helping people shop for groceries, it was definitely one of my favorite parts of working as a supermarket dietitian.   First, let’s walk down that looong cereal.  There are so many cereals to choose from that it may seem a little overwhelming.  However,  at my house my kids usually pick from the same 5 cereals (not listed below) according to their taste buds, maybe your family is the same.  So, I went through my pantry and here are the ones that I could find to give you some examples as we take a look at the labels.

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Today many cereals follow pretty good standard for nutrition, meaning, many of them are made with whole grains and fortified with a number of minerals and vitamins.  However, as my personal opinion I feel that cereal is about 10 steps away from its original grain (through all the processing) and therefore I prefer oatmeal (steel cut oats) over cereal, but not my kids! Cereal does make a great breakfast, snack or I-don’t-want-to-make-any-food-tonight-let’s-have-cereal-for-dinner! It’s a meal you really can’t beat, it tastes great! Cereal is definitely a staple in my children’s diets.  So how do you know if you are buying the right cereal?  Or maybe you need to step up your cereal and find one a bit better? Here are some steps to follow:

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Usually most cereals are less than the 20% recommended Daily Value but I wanted to make sure you check the sodium, too!  Sodium can sure add up especially if you are following a low-sodium (1500 mg) diet. By the way, have you ever checked out the sodium in bread!? More than you would have thought, I bet.   Anyway, back to cereal, you may think 10 grams of sugar might seem high but follow me on this one . . . I and usually I try to find cereals for my kids between 6-8 grams but I also buy one cereal that is 10 grams per serving, check out my guideline below.*

Kashi cereals always do an outstanding job with their ingredient lists and that is why I picked their label as my example for step number 5!   Make sure the product contains whole grains . . .and most of them do these days! Make sure the first or second ingredient is a WHOLE grain.

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Here are some example of easy to find nutrition facts on the front of the box!  I use this all time, especially when looking for how much sugar is in products.

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Sorry for the poor box but even private labels are getting on board with having easy to find nutrition facts on the front of the package, too!

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Wow, nutrition key icons are everywhere!  I was surprised to see them even on the lid!

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More helpful icons!  When you see this whole grain stamp from the Whole Grain Council that is a good sign! This product is made with whole grains.  Plus, if you are diabetic and are counting carbohydrates, the exchanges are listed right on the box.

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My kids like Kix cereal, it is probably the lowest sugared cereal that is on their favorite cereal list.  *I usually buy three boxes of cereal each week and follow my guideline of two cereals containing 6-8 grams of sugar per serving and one box of cereal containing 10 grams of sugar per serving. I am not always on the sugar police patrol but I am a huge believer in balance!  Finding moderate sugared cereals help balance out our weekly donut outing, hehehe!

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Hope this helps!   Cheerio! Smile   Happy Friday!

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