The Low-down on Cereal

When I was a kid, we would rarely be allowed to have the high sugar cereals that are known to be kid’s favorites.  When I had my own money, either from an allowance or a job, I would often spend some on cereal.  My favorites were Cap’n Crunch and Froot Loops.  Many years later, I was visiting my brother and his family and his kids were eating Cap’n Crunch (not a usual fare for the household).  My brother mentioned that he had recently had some of the cereal and it tore his mouth up and didn’t taste as good as when we were kids.  I had some, and I agreed.

I had read a book called Beating the Food Giants, by Paul Stitt, whom I had met through my sister.  Paul was a biochemist who had worked for a few of the food giants, including a cereal company who tasked him with cutting half a cent off the cost of production.  You can read all about this and why Mr. Stitt no longer works for them.  He since then founded Natural Ovens in Wisconsin, which is how my sister met him (he had horses in need of natural horsemanship).

Now, back to the discussion on cereal.  I know many parents who are convinced they have no choice when it comes to feeding their kids.  They believe that their kids will starve themselves before eating something healthy or giving up something high in sugar.  As an adult who can remember most of my childhood, let me first say that is silly.  I would have preferred my sugary cereal but Mom wouldn’t allow it as a regular thing.  That’s part of being a mom or dad.  You make decisions.

However, let’s discuss other options.  We all know that most of the foods that are marketed to kids are really high in sugar.  I’ll tell you, though, I was surprised to see just how much.  For example, Froot Loops is 42% sugar. That’s nearly half.  Half the box is sugar.  Froot Loops is not out there all alone… these numbers are pretty typical.  Frosted Flakes, Cocoa Pebbles, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks… synonymous with sugar.  May as well feed them a glazed doughnut.

According to a study done by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, two groups of kids were offered various cereals and combination’s and they found that the kids who were offered the lower sugar cereal ate it happily.  Plus, they ate a serving, not gorging themselves on the cereal like the higher sugar cereal consumers tended to do.  Another plus was these kids tended to partake in the fruit that was offered on the table.  I can tell you from my experience that when I am consuming a high-sugar cereal, I’d eat the whole box in one sitting and have zero interest in anything else.

Even kids who added sugar ( from packets on the table) to their lower-sugar cereal were eating half as much sugar as the high sugar group.  The lower sugar cereals that were included in this study were original Cheerios, Rice Krispies, and Corn Flakes, all of which have 1 to 4 grams of sugar per serving, as compared to the higher sugar cereals mentioned above which had about 12 grams of sugar per serving.

So, let me summarize this.  The kids who ate the higher sugar cereal ate way more of their cereal than the kids who ate the lower sugar cereal.  The kids who ate the lower sugar cereal, even adding sugar to their cereal at far less sugar than the other group.  Furthermore, the kids who ate the lower sugar cereal ate more fruit than the higher sugar cereal.

So, the point to this is that you can feed your kids a better cereal, they will eat it, they will be happy, and overall it will be much better for them than the high sugar cereal.  Of course, ultimately, you will find that your kids will eat fruit and maybe some oatmeal, and be happy, satisfied, healthy…  but in the meantime, at least choose a better cereal.

Oh, and this is the book I mentioned.  Trust me you can find it second hand, just keep an eye for it.  not sure why prices are so high on Amazon… I have found these books in thrift stores.  Check your library.  Ask for an inter-library loan if they don’t have it.  Check this link so you know what it looks like.

Beating the Food Giants