What is a good cereal to eat?
It is okay if you don’t have time to cook in the morning. There are still plenty of healthy breakfast options! Eating healthy cold or instant hot cereals are good, quick choices when you’re pushed for time. However, navigating the cereal aisle and picking out the healthiest choices can be tricky. Also, if you have diabetes, it is important to read labels and measure portion sizes for cereal and milk since both contain carbohydrates and can raise blood glucose.
Below are a few pointers for a breakfast of champions:
Opt to use skim, ½ %, 1% milk in your cereal. Unflavored regular or light soy milk are also good choices. If you have diabetes, know that 1 cup of milk has about 12 grams of carbohydrate. Some cereal boxes include nutrition information with the nutrition facts for a serving of cereal plus ½ cup of milk. This is usually shown in a separate column and may make meal planning easier. You may want to measure your milk out before pouring it over your cereal to get an idea of how much you are using. It can be hard to know how much you are adding when you pour it straight from the carton.
Limit sugary cereals, and opt for cereals that are whole grain and are higher in fiber. It seems as though the options in the cereal aisle today are endless. All cereals are made from grains, so they provide some carbohydrate. However, many types of cereal have extra carbohydrates from sugars that are added during processing.
Try to refrain from buying sugary cereals – they are usually less nutritious and will raise blood glucose quickly. These cereals are often marketed to children and contain sweet, high-sugar ingredients like chocolate, frosting, marshmallows, honey, and other ingredients that add extra calories, carbohydrates, and fat.
The cereals lowest in added sugars are usually the “original” versions of a cereal, like plain oatmeal or original Total, Wheaties, or Cheerios. Unless the cereal you buy has fruit in it, (which will add natural sugars) look for those that are lower in sugar – around 10 grams or less per serving).
The best way to see if a cereal is mostly whole grain is to look on the nutrition facts panel. Is a whole grain listed as the first ingredient? Also check the nutrition label for the amount of fiber. Look for whole grain or bran cereals that have 2.5 grams of fiber per serving or more. If you can find a cereal with 5 or more grams per serving, that is considered an excellent source of fiber and is probably a good choice!
Whole grain hot cereals are another option. Oatmeal is a hot cereal that is whole grain, whether you use instant, quick-cooking oats, or old fashioned oats. Note that grits and cream of wheat are not a good source of whole grains.
Get familiar with the size of your cereal bowl. Research has shown that the bigger the bowl or plate we have, the more we are likely to serve ourselves. Use the nutrition facts label to look up a serving size of cereal. If you have diabetes, the nutrition facts label is also the best way to get an idea of how many carbohydrates you get per serving.
Become familiar with what a serving size of cereal looks like in your bowls at home. This may mean measuring out portions for a week and taking note of what a portion of cereal and milk looks like. You don’t have to measure every day, but it may be a good idea to check yourself and re-measure once in a while.
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