HAPPY NATIONAL CEREAL DAY!

Unfortunately, this is not a post CELEBRATING cereal. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I know I’m going to hurt a lot of hearts and possibly lose some creditability for posting this, but I have to get this off my chest. 

Seriously just ask my husband, the only thing we ever disagree on…is his breakfast choices. I mean, it’s practically the only meal he has to organize for himself (insert eye roll) and he still chooses the most unhealthy of options. Let me rephrase… he doesn’t choose the most unhealthy options on purpose, he just doesn’t realize how bad they actually are.

I mean let’s face it. Donuts, pancakes & cereal are for some strange reason socially acceptable breakfast foods here in the States…but did you know that most breakfast cereals contain more than half the recommended daily sugar intake in just one serving…. and that’s not including the sugar in the milk either!

Let’s talk stats. The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 6 teaspoons/25g of added sugar per day for females or 9 teaspoons/38g for males. So what are “added sugars” and why do I have issues with them? Added sugars are essentially any sugars added during the processing of foods, including refined white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup (linked to obesity) and in fact any “natural” but are still added sugars that are not naturally-occurring! There are so many different names for sugar, but that’s another blog post for another time.

So we can’t deny that sugar provides great flavor, but they are essentially empty calories and too much of it does horrible things for your blood sugar levels. When there’s too much sugar in your blood, your pancreas must produce insulin to counteract it and when your blood sugar level drops, so does your energy. And what do you do when we lack energy? We reach for those snacks, usually high in sugar! 

Back to cereal. Have you ever studied the back of a cereal box? Honestly, have you glanced (at the very least) at the serving size? One suggested serving size of cereal can be anywhere between 1/2 a cup – 1 cup. THAT’S IT! So although most people look straight for the calorie count, they are predominately wasted calories. So yes, a serving of cereal may only be 110 calories, it most likely has over 15g of sugar, with very few grams of fiber or protein too. So yes, it’s a bowl of carbs, but not the good kind! Plus, since we are on the topic of sugar, many cereals include trans fats which can increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.

Now don’t let packaging, brands or names fool you either (Scott, are you still reading?) Shockingly, these “so called healthy cereals” can actually be some of the worst! Let’s take Raisin Bran for example (because that was Scott’s healthy swap last week) it has 18 grams of sugar per cup! It is also high in calories and contains high-fructose corn syrup, it makes me mad!

Ok so how do we beat these sugar problems? Straight up: I would suggest making your own. Think grains: oats or grits, hot or cold, baked, overnight, slow cooked, you decide! There are so many options to sweeten them naturally, such as fresh or dried fruits, nuts & pure organic honey. However, I realize for most people cereal is convenient and a quick grab and go option, so if you’re not one to cook or prepare homemade “granola” in advance, I have some shopping tips and tricks for you too. I recommend choosing a cereal with at least 3 grams of fiber and no more than 10 grams of sugar per 1 cup serving. Fiber is awesome for digestion, helps you to feel fuller longer and will assist with limiting those awful energy drops from those sugar highs! ALWAYS check the ingredient list; if sugar is the first ingredient… put it right back onto the shelf. What ingredient should you be looking for? A whole grain thats for sure and AVOID artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and partially hydrogenated oils! Don’t feel overwhelmed… you’ve got this!

SO THE BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FOR THIS POST? Yes, the best use for cereal is pouring them over your head for photo opportunities. 

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