Let me shout it from the mountain top: Don’t feel guilty about feeding your child cold cereal. It is a mom’s secret nutritional weapon when you really, really, really don’t feel like cooking. There are many options that you can feel confident serving your kiddos. Does the list include Fruit Loops? Sorry.
These recommendations are quick and easy to remember. You can always add more to your own list as you become more fluent in nutrition-ese.
- No Naked Grains. Dr. David Ludwig, child obesity expert and author of Ending the Food Fight, says that refined grains have literally been stripped! He cleverly calls refined grains, like those in white rice and white bread, Naked Grains. The beneficial germ and bran have been removed. According to the Whole Grains Council, “without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients.” Pick cereal with it’s healthy “clothes” in tact! Make sure that whole grains are the first ingredient.
- Don’t Swim Alone Those grains will be lonely without some company. Add on fresh, frozen, or dried fruit to ensure that your child starts the day with a serving of fruit. If it’s in the bowl…they’ll eat it. My kids LOVE it when I put in frozen blueberries or blackberries because they turn the milk purple. You may also plop walnuts or sprinkle sliced almonds.
- Rein In Sugar This one usually gets a lot of eye rolls. I know. Sugar tastes really good. Plus, all of us grew up on Lucky Charms. It would seem like deserting a member of the family! Try Quaker Life Cereal as a starting point. It tastes great and only has 6 grams of sugar per 3/4 cup serving. This morning both of my boys had cereal with less than one gram of sugar per serving with no complaints. I have no secrets, I just let fruit be the sweetness star.
My final challenge today: Read the labels on your cereal. Even if you don’t do anything about it, start getting comfortable reading labels. The front of a package can make wonderful claims, but the back is where the facts live. Check out this link from the Mayo Clinic to learn more about reading food labels.