In order to nourish their growing minds and bodies, it is vital that your children begin each day with a filling and nutritious breakfast. But, when your mornings look like an overwhelming, hectic explosion of trying to get things done before the day officially starts, you might feel as though there is hardly any time to stand in the kitchen and cook breakfast for the family.
Breakfast cereals are an easy solution and a great time saver. South Africa has a multitude of brightly coloured cereal boxes decorating the shelves of major retailers, many adorned with mascots that advertise fun and “healthy” flavours for kids – but shoppers should always be mindful of the amount of sugar in each serving.
Business Tech news recently evaluated 40 of the most popular cereal brands on store shelves, and they revealed that almost half of the cereals have sugar content that makes up a quarter of a typical serving.
Cereal brands are constantly changing their recipes to attract market share in a competitive space – which means that some brands change over time, new brands are introduced and others are discontinued. Many brands will add “healthier” multi-grain options, but just because it sounds healthier, doesn’t necessarily mean it is better.
For instance, in 2018, Kellogg’s changed the local recipe for Rice Krispies, turning the single grain, relatively sugar-free cereal, into a multi-grain vanilla-flavoured breakfast bowl with far more sugar. The new recipe pushed the total sugar content from 8 grams of sugar per 100g, to over 21 grams.
South Africa’s most sugar-filled cereal crown belongs to Bokomo, with the group’s Creme Soda flavoured Otees carrying a whopping 38.6 grams of sugar per 100 grams!
This is followed by Otees Mixed Berry, Kellogg’s Strawberry Pops, Coco Pops and Otees Chocolate Flakes – all of which have more than 30 grams of sugar per 100 grams.
The recommended serving size for a bowl of cereal is 30 grams, and this does not account for added milk or sugar, which could significantly change the sugar content.
South Africa’s health authorities have begun exerting a great deal of pressure on manufacturers to reduce sugar levels in their products, so the situation will certainly change over time. Still, cereals are a great option if your family doesn’t have the time for other breakfast alternatives. So, if you choose to eat cereal for breakfast, here are some tips to help you select a healthier options.
Limit the sugar
Try to choose a breakfast cereal with under 5 grams of sugar per serving. Read the food label to find out how much sugar the product contains.
Aim for More Fibre
Breakfast cereals that pack at least 3 grams of fibre per serving are optimal. Eating enough fibre can have numerous health benefits.
Pay Attention to the Portion Sizes
Breakfast cereals tend to be crunchy and tasty, and it can be very easy to consume a high number of calories, so try to measure how much you’re eating, using the serving size information on the packaging for guidance.
Read the ingredients list
Ignore the health claims on the front of the box, making sure to check the ingredients list. The first two or three ingredients are most important, as they comprise the majority of the cereal. While government regulations try to combat sneaky messaging from manufacturers, food producer still use tricks to hide the amount of sugar in their products. Some sugars are listed several times under different names, like fructose, glucose and sucrose.
Add Protein if Possible
Protein is a macronutrient that increases fullness and reduces appetite. Try adding greek yoghurt or a handful of nuts or seeds to the cereal for that extra bit of protein.