Sure it’s true that starting the day with breakfast will help you feel energised and great.
And if you combine a good breakfast with a healthy day, then you will probably find it’s easier to lose weight, shed that spare flab and keep it off.
But you might not be doing yourself a favour if you’re guilty of one of these cereal offences:
1. Serving your muesli into a regular sized bowl
Incredibly just 1⁄4 cup of muesli whether it is toasted or untoasted has the same energy content (kJ/cals) as 2 boiled eggs, and that’s before you add extra juice or milk to the muesli. But if you rely on your eyes to judge the muesli serve then you’ll make a mistake.
One-quarter cup looks very lonely in the bottom of a bowl so you’ll pour a whole lot more in.
Solution: Down size your breakfast bowl and leave a 1⁄4-cup measuring scoop in the muesli box to check your serve.
2. Failing to understand how different cereals compare for the same energy value
Each of the following serves contains about 550-600 kJ (130-140 cals): 1 cup plain ready to eat crispy breakfast cereal = 2 breakfast wheat biscuits = 2⁄3 cup cooked oats or porridge = 1⁄4 cup muesli.
Solution: Check how much you pour and adjust the serve size to match the type of cereal your pour.
3. Choosing ‘imposter’ cereals
These are so highly processed and reconstructed that it’s hard to know how they can be called cereal at all. They come in many disguises but are often highly coloured, in crazy shapes, or filled with imposter fruit (jam).
On the surface their energy content, bowl for bowl, pretty well equals that of more adult cereals, but dig deeper and the lack of fibre combined with excess sugars and addition of colours and flavour enhancers paint a less than pretty picture.
Solution: I think you might know the answer already. For a start, don’t choose cereals marketed at kids.
4. Being blind to the salt content of your cereal
If you could separate out the contents of a small 375-g box of crispy ready-to-eat cereal, you could find 11⁄4 tsp salt.
Translate this into a 1-cup serve and that equals 1⁄8 tsp of salt per cup of cereal.
There could be more salt in your crispy ready-to-eat cereal than you’ll find in a 50 g bag of crispy potato chips or a couple of cups of movie popcorn!
It’s much more than a pinch and explains why you want to add sugar or honey to balance the flavour.
Cereal grains from nature are low in salt content and contain less than 10 mg sodium per 100 g. Original oats and semolina are as nature intended – low in sodium salt.
Solution: Choose a cereal grain that’s as close to natural as possible. Rolled oats is a fine example.
5. Choosing a cereal without fibre
Cereals grains naturally contain fibre, but once they are processed, polished, ground and then reconstructed, many commercial breakfast cereals have been stripped of fibre.
This is one time when you will need to check the nutrition panel on the label because you can’t tell the fibre content by taste and you can’t tell by looking.
And no, you are not better off eating the box!
Solution: Just read the label and choose a cereal with at least 3 g fibre per serve.
6. Thinking that raw sugar is a good swap for white sugar for sweetening when weight loss is your goal
Raw sugar, brown, sugar, white sugar. Teaspoon for teaspoon, there’s only a matter of one or two calories between them, so you may as well say they have the same energy rating of 16 cals (66 kJ).
Glucose, dextrose, maltose, fructose. These are all sugars with about the same cal (kJ) value per gram but their sweetness ratings are quite different. For example, fructose is three times as sweet as glucose. That means for every teaspoon of fructose you used, you’d need to use 3 teaspoons of glucose to get the same sweetness.
Pure maple syrup sits close to these sugars, and honey and golden syrup are no better if you still use a teaspoonful.
Solution: Sweeten your cereal with fruit and get a whole lot more volume to eat. Incredibly the following are energy equals: 1 teaspoon sugar = 1⁄4 cup blueberries = 1⁄2 cup honeydew melon = 2⁄3 cup strawberries = 2 teaspoons sultanas.
Another secret cereal sweetener is to use low lactose cow’s milk because it is slightly sweeter on the palate than regular milk – when the natural milk sugar of lactose is split up to help digestion, the sweetness increases.
7. Choosing bircher muesli at your motel because of its healthy image
According to wikipedia, Bircher muesli was created by a medical physician back in the early 1900s. The ‘original’ recipe has clearly been tampered with over the decades and is less healthy than you’d like to believe.
Hotel/motel/restaurant bircher mueslis usually contain lashings of cream to make them silky smooth.
Bircher muesli is a powerhouse of fuel and great for an energetic, sporty person. But for the person who needs to fill their bowl to satisfy the appetite of their eyes, bircher muesli is a potential hazard.
Solution: Dilute your serve by adding more fruit to the bowl than bircher muesli.
When you’re home, create your own healthier and easy bircher style muesli. It makes for a very convenient breakfast-to-go.
Like the easy photo comparisons?
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See a 30 sec video preview of “this=that: a life-size photo guide to food serves” revised and expanded in 2011.
It is the only way to clearly see how much to eat and what size a serve really is. All shown as energy equals.
The easiest way to serve up weight loss and better health is to see how much to eat and drink.
Are you guilty of any of these cereal offences? What do you eat for breakfast?
Please add your thoughts and comments below.