Is Cereal Unhealthy? Wondering why your cereal-eating kids are always hungry? Here's Why!
What's missing from cereal? Fat, fibre and protein are needed for a meal to create ’satiety’ (feeling full & satisfied) and most cereals are deficient in all! Granted, they’re designed to be consumed with milk, but just adding milk to a pile of empty carbs doesn’t fix it. Milk is actually quite high in carbs too - lactose (milk sugar) adds to the hit, with just a little protein and fat to take the edge off. So is cereal unhealthy?
Cereal Is A Great Cheap ‘Filler’ For Growing Kids That Eat All The Time...Isn't It??
Yes, they may be cheap ‘fillers’ but what are you achieving by ‘filling’ growing kids with such nutritional emptiness?
Saving $$ building a new house from cheap building materials is not recommended if you want a house that lasts a lifetime. The same advice applies when ‘building’ a human body. Our body is the house we live in throughout life, you can help your kids build a decent one by supplying quality materials!
If breakfast is just cereal, you are wasting an opportunity to help nourish and strengthen a growing body with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, good fats. Each small wasted opportunity adds up over time to create a nutrient-deficient body…a dysfunctional ‘house’ that will keep breaking & require constant repair throughout life. The classic ‘overfed, undernourished’ sick western kids we see everywhere today.
What Happens When Kids Eat Cereal?
A refined carb and sugar-rich breakfast mean a quick blood sugar spike, followed by a surge of insulin and then a drop....which will be followed by another sugar craving. That’s how we load kids onto the blood sugar rollercoaster at the start of each day!
When our stomach is empty and blood sugar drops, ‘grehlin’ the hunger hormone
is released, setting off the ‘I’m hungry again’ response. When breakfast contains more protein, fat and fibre and less refined carbs and sugars, the rise in blood sugar is not so fast and high and the drop is less sudden & happens much later on. Energy is much more stable and longer-lasting.
So is cereal unhealthy? You bet! For kids, boarding the cereal-induced roller coaster each day can mean poor attention and lack of focus at school, poor behaviour, hyperactivity, feeling tired and grumpy, feeling hungry soon after eating, a dip in immunity, choosing sweeter foods at every opportunity. Chronically - they’ll end up with frequent colds, flus, infections, more chance of developing chronic gut-immune issues like eczema, hay fever and allergies, exacerbated acne and moodiness during teenage years...not to mention missing out on all the nutrients that are supplied by real food whilst over-eating empty calories & becoming overweight or obese by getting addicted to refined carbs.
My kids are already addicted to unhealthy cereal! What can I do??
You can either tell the kids “there’s been an explosion in the cereal factory so they can’t make it anymore, and we have to eat ‘X’ instead”, or try the following tips:
- Start by adding some healthy extras into the beloved cereal bowls. You want protein, fat and fibre. BLEND11 works perfectly here, or any other nuts & seeds your kids don’t hate too much. Don’t expect this to go smoothly, but it’s “cereal with added nutrients, or we just don’t buy cereal at all kids” (that’s the eventual goal anyway, they’ll get used to real food with perseverance...& maybe threats & / or bribery).
- Try making the ‘milk’ healthier. You can add HEMPSEED or a little PROTEIN POWDER into the blender with most milks and make little change to the taste & texture. ALMOND MEAL or soaked CHIA SEEDS can also be quite a subtle addition. This is a baby step, but any step is good. Your 'milk' could be made from a healthy smoothie.
- Make smoothie bowls! Just run out of cereal completely one day and say ‘oh no’ we’ll have to make something, let’s make those cool Açai bowls you see in the cafes (they always have some sort of fruit & nuts, nut butter, seeds, buckwheat, granola on top. You can use any smoothie as a base and get the kids to decorate their own, choosing from an array of fat, fibre and protein-rich natural toppings. Beware the sugary smoothie trap, make sure you are using lower sugar fruits like berries and always add things like nuts and seeds for fat, fibre and protein.
- Break the cereal habit with other favourites your kids are used to. Try eggs (done any way your kids like them) or healthy pancakes, leftover dinners, porridge, toast piled high with healthy toppings, smoothies, Bircher mueslis, quality granola with seeds & yoghurt...there are loads of options if you think outside the (cereal) box....anything but cereal, it’s a nutritionally tragic way to start the day and unfortunately still so common in Australia! Just chat to the kids & together figure out something that will better support them to build a healthy 'forever home'. Give them choices and use variety to cover more nutritional bases, but make all the choices better than their current norm!
- Think seriously about how to bring the explosion story to life.
If you're wondering if cereal is unhealthy you might want to have a look at our blog on Australian cereal brands nutritional comparisons
Have a question or need some help? Email me at email@example.com