Walk down the supermarket aisle where the choice and variety of breakfast cereals is enough to overwhelm anyone let alone trying to work out which breakfast cereals are low sugar. New brands, new flavours, crazy shapes and not quite natural colours, you name it. The one I really find fascinating is Weetabix, I mean they come big, mini, wholegrain, strawberry, chocolate chip – there’s a new one every month, I can’t keep up. I grew up eating cereals and oh my, did I love them. Raisin Wheats were always a good shout and then I discovered the crunch granola varieties – pecan and maple was a particular weakness. I also have distinct memories of my brother Paul eating a bowl of Golden Grahams at various times of the day, not just breakfast. You can visibly see the amount of sugar on those things.
It’s important for me to write a post about breakfast cereals because on a sugar front, these are one of the worst culprits. You might know Golden Graemes or Frosties aren’t going to be enormously good for you, but actually it’s the other ‘healthy’ brands that are the worst in disguising the amount of sugar tumbling into your breakfast bowl. Special K isn’t as healthy choice as you may think being highly refined and containing 4g of sugar per bowl which is about 13% and equates to a teaspoon. Granted it’s a better choice than CoCo Pops but there are wiser choices you can make to help make you get more from your breakfast in terms of energy and nutrients. Bran Flakes have more sugar than you’d expect with 4.9g a portion whilst fruit and fibre packs in 10g, however most of this will be the fruit. Next time you pick up a cereal just pay a bit more attention to its sugar content over calories and fat, you may be surprised.
Muesli, an old and good friend of mine is an interesting one. Generally this is a healthier choice where you have slow burning oats, dried fruit for fibre and some nuts or seeds for protein. Most, if not all of the sugar comes from fruit, but you need to check out the nutritional information as sugar content between brands and varieties can really vary from 10-24g per portion where a percentage of that could be added sugar – Swiss varieties are normally sinners in this sense so watch out for them. Fresh fruit is always preferable over dried so just watch how many raisins you’re gobbling up.
The best low sugar cereal option out there is Shredded Wheat with a dinky 0.3g sugar per portion. Yes I know Shredded Wheat can kinda taste like cardboard if you have been used to Crunchy Nut Cornflakes for the past decade, but adding some fruit such as blueberries, raspberries or strawberries can bring it to life. Weetabix, and I mean the non jazzed up original version also comes in well with only 1.7g sugar per serving (2 biscuits). Add some natural yoghurt, chopped apricots, walnuts and you have a serious nutritious start to the day.
Understanding however that there are some days where you may just want to treat yourself to bowl of something naughtily ‘nice’. That honey granola or tropical crunch which you know isn’t wholly virtuous, but is something you enjoy from time to time. My bit of advice here – mix it up. Having a bit of the cereal you love but mixing it with some Bitesize Shredded Wheat or low sugar muesli, whatever, helps reduce the sugar content in your bowl without feeling like you are completely depriving yourself of taste. If you think mixing cereals is a tad weird, all I can say is try it and you’ll never look back. Weaning your taste buds off sugary cereals is a gradual process but does work. You’ll be turning you nose up to Frosties in no time. Even better, go for savoury breakfasts (eggs) or porridge as an alternative to cereals. Oh and try not get tempted by that sparkly new Weatabix concoction when it jumps out of you at the supermarket.