Health & Nutrition

August 18, 2011

Just because it says Whole Grain…

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photo by musicfanatic29

…doesn’t mean it is good for you. It’s Back to School month and along with getting new clothes and school supplies, there are some new labels on cereals. The Whole Grain label.

What was your favorite cereal growing up? My favorite seemed to change by the minute and sometimes I would get the coveted precious treat; but often I would end up with Kellog’s Corn Flakes or Kix.

My bowl of corn flakes would end up looking like a bowl of cloudy water after I poured heaps of sugar atop! I cringe just thinking about the amount of sugar I would to my cereal!

Ironically when Kix came out I did not add any sugar. Do you remember the slogan? “Kid tested, Mother approved!” Although Kix may have 10% of the daily intake for fiber and only 10% sugar, it has 700 mg of Sodium!

I do not know if my mom chose the cereal because it was marketed as being better for kids or if it was simply on sale. For today’s moms, the choices seem more confusing now that cereals are touting the “Whole Grain Guaranteed” label.

Well do not be fooled. This seal is nothing more than marketing working their magic.

Here is a quick simple method to nutritionally rate products on your next shopping trip. I learned this in a summer class and found it on Mohave County’s WIC program website.

This easy rating system has been slightly modified:

  • When looking at the nutrition facts label, raise one finger if the item has (for cereals this is before adding milk).
    • 10% or more of Vitamin A
    • 10% of more of Vitamin C
    • 10% or more of Calcium
    • 10% or more of Iron
    • at least 5 grams of Protein; and
    • 10% or more of Fiber
  • Put down a finger if the item has:
    • 10% or more Saturated Fat (items like peanut butter have good fats such as poly and monounsaturated fats.) OR
    • 200 calories or more per serving OR
    • Sugar is one of the first three ingredients

How many fingers are left?

If you have two or more fingers remaining, the item may be considered healthy (the low end of healthy). If you have six fingers, the item may be considered very healthy.

Now try it on your cereal items at home and on your next grocery trip.

Click here to download the PDF.

If you tell a child healthy food is “yucky!” – they will believe you! A study conducted by Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University (2009) showed that children will eat lower sugar cereals when given. They also ate less as opposed to children who were given higher sugared cereals.

My kid will just add table sugar to their cereal.
First, the sugar can be in area not accessible. However, kids always find a way and even if they do add table sugar, they will still eat less sugar than the high-sugared cereals.

If my kid adds fruit, isn’t that still sugar?
Yes but remember the sugar in fruit is unprocessed. In addition fruits contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Bananas are rich in potassium and taste great added to corn flakes. Blueberries are sweet and high in antioxidants. Strawberries add vitamin C to the bowl.

Children are highly impressionable and will eat healthy if the adults in their lives set the example and encourage them. Getting children to eat healthy is as easy as you (the adult) allows it to become. Start today!

I want to know what you think…

  • Do you look closely at the Nutrition Facts label and Ingredient list?
  • Does adding whole wheat flour to cereal improve its nutritional value?
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7 thoughts on “Just because it says Whole Grain…

  1. Really good article! When I was a kid I LOVED when we were treated to Lucky Charms! As an adult I rarely eat cereal anymore unless it is oatmeal. Thanks for the rating system, I went and checked it out on my oatmeal and had 5 fingers (the oatmeal only had 3 grams protein) so I guess I’m making a good choice here! (Archer Farms Simply Balanced Oatmeal).

  2. I feel I’ve become much healthier since eliminating cereal as a breakfast food. Fruit, tea, and toast are my regular replacements. If I want a big breakfast, I might put veggies and an egg on the bread (speaking of, I’m amazed at the number of ingredients in much of the “bread” these days!) Cereal, on the rare occasions I eat it, is now for dessert.

    Here’s my new rule on grocery shopping: Don’t buy anything packaged! Might be a little hard line but it’s simple and it’s the truth!

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