Most people realize that a giant bowl of Lucky Charms isn’t the healthiest breakfast option. Most people also realize that if it tastes like cardboard soaked in water and has “whole bran fiber” anywhere in its name, it probably has some level of health benefit.
What many people don’t realize is that is it possible – even easy – to reach a healthy, delicious medium.
Study on Cereal Choices
A new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity shows that children are more likely to make healthy cereal choices when given additional options of things to eat with (or even in) their breakfast cereal. The same goes for adults. If you are given a choice between Apple Jacks and bran flakes, you’re probably going to choose the Apple Jacks. However, if the bran flakes option also includes strawberries, raisins and a glass of orange juice, suddenly the bran flakes look much more appealing.
In the study, 2 groups of children ages 5-12 were each given an equal amount of calories.
- Participants in Group 1 received a bowl of highly sweet cereal
- Participants in Group 2 received a bowl of low-sugar cereal
Both groups were offered additional items like bananas, berries and 100% fruit juice. Results showed that children in the first group typically ate only the cereal, while children in the second group took advantage of the supplemental items and added the extra nutrition voluntarily.
Healthy Breakfast in Real Life
This principle applies in the grown-up world too. Give yourself options. Here are some tips for eating a healthy breakfast that you can enjoy.
- It all starts with smart grocery shopping: If you plan ahead and purchase a selection of low-fat yogurt, fruit, 100% juice and whole-grain breads, you won’t automatically default to the sweet cereal on early mornings when “boring” cereal just won’t cut it.
- Don’t buy sweet cereal. I know, it really is that simple. If you remove the frosted flakes from the options in your pantry, you won’t have to filter through your early-morning poor judgment.
- Experiment with hot cereal options. That extra bit of flavor might be just what you need! Try this Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa recipe from Tiny Green Mom, or a homemade All-Natural Pumpkin Spice Latte from All Natural Annie.
Study researchers also noted that if your children are picky eaters, their breakfast cereal options are probably not at such opposite ends of the scale as they would have you believe. If they “love” Captain Crunch and “hate” corn Chex, it’s probably just a matter of preferring one over the other. If they have no Captain Crunch option, researchers said they won’t simply skip breakfast. Children will eat the corn Chex (and enjoy it!) if it’s the only option they have. Add some fruit and it becomes even more appealing.
So while you might be tempted to pour a second helping of Cocoa Puffs while watching TV this Saturday morning, go for the Cheerios and add some fresh fruit for a healthy, delicious start to your day.