Cereal has been a breakfast staple in households for many decades. It is a quick and convenient way for busy parents and kids to fuel up before heading out of the door in the morning. It is often affordable and can help feed a large family on a budget. Dry cereal is also an easy way for younger, more independent kids to make their breakfast (and hopefully clean up after). How many of you remember serving yourself a bowl of cereal on Saturday morning and camping out in front of the TV for cartoons?
When it comes to selecting a healthier option for your kids’ cereal bowls, there can be some confusion and a lot of colorful and distracting marketing. So what should one look for when selecting options for the breakfast cupboard? Review the nutritional label of the box and look at the serving size. Aim for 200 calories or less per serving (dry, without milk, or plant milk). Also, look at the fiber and sugar content of dry cereals before you toss the box into your shopping cart.
What To Look For
According to the Mayo Clinic, shoppers should look for dry cereals with the following criteria:
- 3-5 grams of fiber per serving
- Look at the ingredient list. If sugar is at or near the top, then avoid it. Also look for sugar-related ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, honey, or dextrose
- And look for cereals that provide some protein
Not all cereals are created the same. As with selecting any food choice, it is best for consumers to research and read labels for ingredients and serving sizes. One brand’s nutritional label may be for a full cup serving, while another may be for ½ cup serving. Mindlessly pouring cereal into a big bowl can certainly sneak in extra calories.
It is also important to avoid marketing hype when selecting a cereal for kids. Often children’s cereals are packaged with bright colors and cartoon characters. These eye-catching boxes are likely to contain more sugar than those aimed at adults. You are better off selecting more adult marketed dry cereals for healthier options, and to create a better foundation for your younger, hungry morning crowd.
Top 10 Healthy Cereal Choices for Kids
So what are some healthier dry cereal options for kids – or kids at heart – at the breakfast table?
- Wheaties (2.7 grams of fiber per serving)
- Quaker Life Original Cereal (3 grams of fiber per serving)
- Kix (3 grams of fiber per serving)
- Honey Nut Cheerios (3 grams of fiber per serving)
- Cheerios (4 grams of fiber per serving)
- Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (7 grams of fiber per serving)
- Post Grape-Nuts (7 grams of fiber per serving)
- Post Shredded Wheat (8 grams of fiber per serving)
- Kellogg’s All-Bran (12 grams of fiber per serving)
- Kashi Go Cereal (12 grams of fiber per serving)
There are additional ways to make the morning bowl of cereal more balanced. You can add fresh fruit to the cereal (this increases fiber content as well as many other nutrients) and opt to use low fat or skim milk, or a plant-based option such as almond milk or oat milk. Cereals today also come in a variety of diet-friendly options for gluten-free to Keto.
There are hundreds of cereal options to choose from. It can be very easy to stick to favorites or grab the tried and trued brands with big marketing budgets. As a parent, it is your benefit and your budding athlete’s benefit to get their day started off healthily, and to establish good, balanced eating habits for a lifetime.
Read More: 10 Athlete-Approved High-Protein Cereals