Breakfast cereal is a standard part of many family breakfasts. But many cereals that are targeted to kids (usually with a colorful cartoon character on the box) are packed with sugar – it’s often the number one or two ingredient! Most of these cereals are also made with refined grains – rather than whole grains – so they contain no fiber. Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes may make kids happy, but they’re not giving them the kind of nutrition they need to give their day a healthy start.
How to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthier Cereal
Strategy 1: Mix half and half. The goal for this strategy is to cut down on sugar. Rather than taking away your kids’ favorite sugary cereals – and the cartoon characters they love to see on the box – try mixing half a serving of kid’s cereal with half a serving of whole grain, high-fiber cereal. You’ll be giving your kids a much better nutritional boost, with many more nutrients to start their day. When shopping for your new “mixer” cereal, be sure to look for whole wheat flour or whole grains as the first item on the ingredient list. We particularly like Smart Bran from Nature’s Path.
Strategy 2: Introduce healthier kid-friendly cereals to your family. The goal for this strategy is to totally replace the sugar-based cereals your kids are currently eating with healthier options that still offer some fun kid appeal.
Here are some kid-friendly healthy cereals to try:
- MultiGrain Cheerios. Kids love Cheerios! But not all Cheerios are made the same. Fruity Cheerios, for instance, are added with at least 4 different artificial colorings. We like MultiGrain Cheerios for its variety in texture made with 5 whole grains, as well as its lower sugar content (1 1/2 tsp of sugar per serving).
- Nature’s Path EnviroKidz Penguin Puffs. This organic cereal is made with a variety of whole grains – corn, brown rice, and kamut. It offers a variety of crunchy textures and contains 3 g of fiber and only 2 tsp of sugar per serving.
- Post’s LiveActive Nut Harvest Crunch Cereal. If your kids like nuts, they will like this crunchy cereal, because it’s packed with them. Also loaded with whole grains, LiveActive contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that helps promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. This cereal offers more fiber than the previous two – 8 g – and also has only 2 tsp of sugar per serving.
The Bottom Line
You’ll probably never get your kids to fall in love with cereals targeted at health-conscious adults. But by reducing the sugar in their current favorites (by mixing them with healthier adult cereal), or switching them to a healthier cereal that still appeals to their sense of taste and fun, you can make breakfast at your house healthier, one strategy at a time.
Gloria Tsang is the author of 5 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.