By: Jodie Shield, RD
Did you know that the “biggest losers” in terms of weight loss are breakfast eaters? It’s true. According to the National Weight Control Registry (www.nwcr.ws), a research group that studies how individuals have succeed at long-term weight loss, 78 percent of the 5000 people in their registry reported that eating breakfast everyday was key to their success. Well now it appears that breakfast eating benefits kids waistlines too. Not only does breakfast help kids perform better in school and boost their daily nutrient quota, it can help them stay slim now and in the future. But hold off on the donuts, looks like they will need to grab a spoon and bowl instead. A study published in the October 2009 Journal of the American Dietetic Association* found that over a ten year period, girls who ate cereal for breakfast on a greater percentage of days during childhood had a lower percent body fat and total cholesterol, watched fewer hours of television, and were more likely to be physically active in their teen years than those who didn’t eat cereal as often. Although the study was large – over 2,000 girls – the effects were small but significant. The researchers concluded that cereal may play a role in promoting a healthy lifestyle.
But we all know that nutritionally speaking, breakfast cereals are not created equal. Some are loaded with so much sugar they seem more like a bowl of candy. Other brands may be void of fat and fiber, but taste like you’re nibbling on Styrofoam. So what’s the best cereal for you and your family? Here are a few of the things I look for when scanning the food labels of cereal boxes:
- Serving Size Matters – Strive for a 1 cup serving of ready-to-eat cereal; ½ cup cooked cereal
- Calories Count – Try to keep calories less than 225 per serving
- Focus on Fiber – Aim for ? 3 grams per serving
- Go for the “whole” grain – Scan the ingredient list; oats or “whole grain” should be listed first.
- Trans-late the fat – Keep fat grams ? 3; avoid Trans fats
- Slow down sugar – Shoot for ? 12 grams per serving
- Shake off sodium – Limit to ? 300 milligrams per serving
Even though I don’t work for these companies, I wanted to share with you some of my family’s favorite cereals that meet all of my RD/mom-criteria:
- Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size
- Quaker Oatmeal Squares
- General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios
- Any brand of oatmeal
So when it comes to eating breakfast, sound the alarm. Bowl your family over with some cereal topped off with fat-free milk and sliced fruit. It’s a lifestyle habit that just may help everyone stay slim and healthy. What are some of your family’s favorite cereals?
* Alberston AM et. al. Prospective associations among cereal intake in childhood and adiposity, lipid levels, and physical activity during late adolescence. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009; 109:1775-1780.