A lot of us were brought up believing that cereal is a healthy start to the day – but it’s time to revisit that assumption!Cereals aren’t nearly as healthy as many people believe. That’s important for everyone to know, but it is especially important for parents. In deciding what to feed their children in the morning, parents are looking for something which is healthy, a good source of energy and will set their children up as well as possible for the day ahead.Many common breakfast cereals aren’t the best way to do that.
Cereals are High in Sugars
A lot of breakfast cereals are very high in unhealthy sugars.These sugars do not occur naturally in the cereals. Instead, they are added as part of the manufacturing process to change the taste profile of the cereal. Manufacturers and some parents believe that children only like to eat very sweet cereals, as their taste buds are not very sophisticated. But actually that is partly about training – children eat sweet cereals because they are available, but for thousands of years children have been happy eating foods with no added sugars.Sugars are unhealthy in general because they can lead to obesity. At the start of the day, they lead to blood sugar spikes, so your child’s energy will be more unevenly distributed across the day. All parents know that it can be hard to get a child to concentrate all day at school in any case – pushing their blood sugars high at the very start of their day is the worst thing to do!As well as sugar, there are often other things added in unhealthy quantities, including salt. This is also unhealthy for your child’s balanced diet.
They Might not Do What you Think
Many parents already try to buy what they are think are healthier cereals – but they might not be as healthy as you think!Manufacturers often plaster claims over their boxes about health benefits, such as “Reduced sugar”, “A healthy start” and “whole grain”. But these claims are often meaningless and sometimes downright misleading. For example, whole grain in general is considered comparatively healthy. But a box of breakfast cereal which says “whole grain” on it may simply mean that one of its minor ingredients is whole grain. Overall, it may be very unhealthy for children. To know what is in a cereal you need to read and interpret the ingredient listing very carefully.But the bottom line is that breakfast cereals are often much less good for your children than you may currently think.
Cereals often Encourage Overeating
Cereals try to make themselves as tasty as possible for children – which isn’t as good as it sounds.You may think that an appetising, brightly coloured cereal with friendly cartoon characters is an easy way to get your child to eat their breakfast each day. But the ease of eating this overly sweetened, colourful, shaped cereal means that children like to eat more than they need to, or is good for them. Breakfast can be a busy time in any house and it is usually the first meal over which a child has control of their own portions. This contributes to them eating too much cereal. As well as making them sluggish during the day, this can contribute to them becoming overweight and all of the health problems associated with that.Some cereals and grains are healthy, for children as well as for adults. So it is easy to understand why so many of us believe that cereals are a healthy way to start the day. But many of the commercially available breakfast cereals have little relation to real cereal. They are heavily processed industrial foods which will do both short- and long-term damage to your children’s health. Why not reassess what’s best for breakfast, starting with what you plan to feed your children tomorrow?