Monday, February 1, 2010

Cereal Killer

There are a lot of foods that seem like they're healthier than they really are.

Take, for instance, granola. The hippie food staple is often thought of as an end-all be-all of nutrition but those typically food-savvy folks will lead you astray; it seems that granola really isn't that great for you after all.

One food that ranges quite wildly is cereal. Oddly enough, my old standby site Eat This, Not That (which I haven't checked in a while) highlighted a list of the Best and Worst cereals.

That list can give you some really good, practical options. This post highlights the things I've learned and how I purchase cereal (although, admittedly, I don't buy that much in the first place).

1. Don't base your purchase on the front of the box

Read the nutrition facts, not just the front of the box I'm super cereal.

The only thing you should care about is a) if there's a cartoon character on the front (to easily eliminate that option) and b) if it looks like something that will taste decent. After all, you can have the healthiest cereal in the world but why not eat something that you enjoy while not being a Count Chocula'd idiot?

2. Keep your sugar low

While I recommend finding cereals that you enjoy, there are a few that should be eliminated. Be mindful of your sugar intake.

One of the tastiest healthy series is the Kashi "Go Lean" cereals. I quite enjoy their berry cluster variety (I believe it's called "Go Lean Crisp.") If you're feeling especially spry, you can just get one of those really bland cereals and throw some fruit in there for sweetness. For me, it's baby steps, though.

3. High fiber

Fiber content is the #1 priority after keeping sugar low. Since you'll be eating this for breakfast, you want something to keep you full until lunch.

4. Protein is good too

It's not quite as important as having a high fiber cereal, but a high protein breakfast will also be very helpful in keeping you fuller, longer.

5. Vitamins are solid too

Admittedly, I've been getting my vitamins from fruit and vegetables but the Total line does provide a lot of nutrition. Honestly, I'd rather have a scattering of 35%'s than 100%'s because sometimes you can get too much of a good thing.

That being said, if you can get a high-fiber, high-protein and vitamin enriched cereal with low sugar and moderate fat/calories then you're doing a great job.

It's also worth nothing that you should try to eat cereal earlier in the day, so it's easier to work off all those carbs.

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