A single serving of 11 popular cereals, including Kellogg's Honey Smacks, can carry as much sugar as a glazed doughnut. And some brands have even more sugar and sodium when formulated for the U.S. market than the same brands have when sold in other countries.
Post's Golden Crisp and Kellogg's Honey Smacks are both more than 50 percent sugar by weight, while nine brands are at least 40 percent sugar.
Unfortunately breakfast is typically one of the worst meals to eat out. Most restaurant options are simply not consistent with a healthy meal. The most notorious offenders though are probably breakfast cereals, which were initially developed to increase convenience, and now have mostly morphed into highly processed packages filled with synthetic vitamins and are a mere fantasy of a healthy food.
Breakfast cereals, along with waffles, pancakes, bagels and other high-carb, high-sugar foods, are some of your absolute worst breakfast options. And cereals that are aggressively marketed to kids have the worst nutritional quality of all cereals, according to an analysis of 161 brands earlier this year.
The analysis, published in the Journal of American Dietetic Association, found that children’s cereals have more sugar, sodium, carbohydrates, and calories per gram than cereals not marketed to kids. They also have less protein and fiber.
On average, sugar accounts for more than one-third of the weight of children‘s cereals compared to less than one-quarter of adult cereals.
The food industry spends about $229 million annually advertising these nutritionally void cereals to children. Colorful cartoons and other cheery tricks are meant to stimulate your child into wanting these “fun” foods, but the damage they can do to your child’s health is no laughing matter.
Obesity has become a major concern for American children, with excess sugar and carbohydrates being two of the major culprits contributing to this growing problem.
In the last two decades, the prevalence of overweight adolescents has nearly tripled, and current statistics show 16 percent of children are overweight or obese.
Sugar is Not a Healthy Breakfast, Fiber be Damned
There are two major problems with breakfast cereals:
- Their high sugar content
- The grains (carbohydrates, which also break down into sugar)
On average, just one serving of a typical children’s breakfast cereal equates to more than 90 percent of the daily sugar intake for sedentary girls aged 9 to 13.
Regardless of the “healthy fiber” content of the cereal, consuming that much sugar is not going to promote good health. Foods high in added sugar contain little in terms of essential vitamins and minerals, and the calories they contain are not made up of important micronutrients needed for health and growth.
Reducing sugar intake should be on the top of your list regardless of whether your child is currently overweight or not, because it’s been proven over and over that sugar increases insulin levels, which can lead to:
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Weight gain
- Premature aging, and more
In fact, sugar is bad for your health in so many ways, I’ve compiled an entire list outlining 100-Plus Ways in Which Sugar Can Damage Your Health!
In Most Cases Grains Equals Sugar
Grains are such common staples that most can’t imagine them not being healthy. Now, if you are a Carb type, you can actually do well with grains. However, in my experience, only about 15 percent of the population benefit from having healthy unprocessed grains.For the majority, grains and cereals should be limited or avoided as much as possible.
This is because grains rapidly break down to sugar in your body, and stimulate insulin production. Therefore, anyone who is overweight, or has high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes would do best to avoid grains as well, because you’re right back to the issue of consuming too much sugar again.
Proper childhood nutrition and engaging in an active lifestyle is so important -- if you want to set the stage for lifelong health -- I wrote an entire book on the subject called Generation XL: Raising Healthy, Intelligent Kids in a High-Tech, Junk-Food World.
What Makes a Healthy Breakfast?
My primary recommendation for Carb and Mixed nutritional types is to prepare and consume fresh vegetable juice, making sure to also eat the pulp. (It’s loaded with so many valuable phytonutrients, it would be unwise to discard it.)
Veggie juice is a really simple breakfast alternative, and suitable even for your youngest ones.
Juicing may not be the best option for Protein types (like me), however, so if your child is a Protein type, you’d want to limit them to 10 ounces or less of raw juice each day, and restrict the vegetables to lower potassium varieties such as spinach and celery.
Prior to understanding Nutritional Typing I used to juice vegetables, but now my breakfast contains far more fat. I typically make a porridge with several ounces of fresh raw coconut cream (which I obtain locally as it’s not available commercially). Then I mix in 2-3 raw organic free-range eggs, some rice bran, and some raw organic nuts, ground organic hemp seeds and coconut milk. That typically keeps me going strong until lunch.