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Cereal Swaps for a Healthier Breakfast


Which cereals should be on your shopping list,
and which ones should you toss?

When I wrote my column about how to pick a healthier breakfast cereal, I didn't expect such a large response. Most people understood what to look for, but they didn't want to buy the healthy choices until they knew which ones tasted OK. Some wrote in saying they didn't have the money to buy and test a dozen new cereals. Many asked for recommendations.

I thought about how I could sample and describe cereals in a way that would be meaningful. But reviews I've read never really convey the essence of the food.

The answer came to me in a letter. It was from a mom who was trying to get her children to eat healthier options. She wanted to replace the brightly colored and sugar loaded boxes they were currently eating with versions that were similar, but healthier.

That when I remembered a cereal I've recommended to clients. It's called Kashi Honey Sunshine. I describe it as an adult Cap'n Crunch with half the sugar and five times the fiber.

Each bite of Kashi Honey Sunshine is a little firmer and not quite as sweet. The Kashi is also a pale yellow rather than the bright, almost day glow orange of the Cap'n Crunch. It's not an exact replacement, but it's close enough. If youve got a craving for Cap'n Crunch, the Kashi will do. Over time you may even learn to enjoy it more.

 Replace THIS...

...with THIS. 

Cap'n Crunch - NO Kashi Honey Sunshine - YES
Cap'n Crunch - 1 Level Cup Kashi Honey Sunshine - 1 Level Cup
Cereal photos show 1 level cup
beside quarter for comparison.

Click Here to compare the nutrition labels side by side.
(Opens new window.)

I told "mom" to start by mixing the two cereals together. Begin with a 50/50 blend, and over several weeks keep increasing the percentage of the healthier option. Put the blended cereal in the old box. Eventually your children will get used to the healthier option.

Here are four more "adult" versions of popular children's cereals.

Post Golden Crisp says on the front of the box, "Wholesome, Sweetened Puffed Wheat Cereal." It's a funny choice of words because the technical definition of "wholesome" is "fit for human consumption." In a 2008 Consumer Reports story they pointed out that Golden Crisp was "more than 50 percent sugar (by weight)." Eat a single cup and you get 18.6 grams of sugar and less than one gram of fiber.

Replace the Golden Crisp with a cup of Uncle Sam. The ingredients in Uncle Sam are whole wheat, whole flaxseed, salt and barley malt. Add a little stevia or Splenda and the taste is remarkably similar to Golden Crisp. But the Uncle Sam has twice the protein, less than a single gram of sugar and 13 grams of heart healthy fiber.

 Replace THIS...

...with THIS. 

Post Golden Crisp - NO Uncle Sam - YES
Post Golden Crisp - 1 Level Cup Uncle Sam - 1 Level Cup
Cereal photos show 1 level cup
beside quarter for comparison.

Click Here to compare the nutrition labels side by side.
(Opens new window.)

Maybe you prefer Post Honey Bunches of Oats. The front of the box proudly says, "No High Fructose Corn Syrup" and "10 grams whole grain per serving." That translates into 8.5 grams of sugar and about 2.5 grams of fiber.

It's not bad, but a cup of Fiber One Honey Clusters has cereal flakes and tasty little clusters too, but with only 6 grams of sugar and 13 grams of fiber. You get half your daily allowance of fiber in a single serving.

 Replace THIS...

...with THIS. 

Post Honey Bunches of Oats - NO Fiber One Honey Clusters - YES
Post Honey Bunches of Oats - 1 Level Cup Fiber One Honey Clusters - 1 Level Cup
Cereal photos show 1 level cup
beside quarter for comparison.

Click Here to compare the nutrition labels side by side.
(Opens new window.)

If you're a fan of Golden Grahams, swap it out for Fiber One Honey Squares. They both have remarkably similar tastes, but a cup of Fiber One Honey Squares has about 107 calories, 4 grams of sugar and 13 grams of fiber. That's thirty percent fewer calories than Golden Grahams, one-third the sugar and five times the fiber. When members of our tasting panel tried the Fiber One Honey Squares, half actually preferred it over Golden Grahams.

 Replace THIS...

...with THIS. 

Golden Grahams - NO Fiber One Honey Squares - YES
Golden Grahams - 1 Level Cup Fiber One Honey Squares - 1 Level Cup
Cereal photos show 1 level cup
beside quarter for comparison.

Click Here to compare the nutrition labels side by side.
(Opens new window.)

The most difficult swap was finding a replacement for Kellog's Frosted Mini Wheats. We used Post Shredded Wheat but added a sprinkling of stevia or Splenda across the top to give it the same sweet taste without the sugar coating. Both cereals had a reasonable 6 grams of fiber per cup, but the Post Shredded Wheat with stevia had no sugar while the Frosted Mini Wheats packed 11 grams.

 Replace THIS...

...with THIS. 

Kellog's Frosted Mini Wheats - NO Post Shredded Wheat - YES
Kellog's Frosted Mini Wheats - 1 Level Cup Post Shredded Wheat - 1 Level Cup
Cereal photos show 1 level cup
beside quarter for comparison.

Click Here to compare the nutrition labels side by side.
(Opens new window.)

Now you've got options, five healthier cereal choices that'll get your morning off to a better start.

Call for a FREE Consultation (305) 296-3434
CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

8/19/2012
(Originally Posted 5/29/2012)