I was at the grocery store yesterday, trying to refill the abyss left in our fridge and pantry by the 3 boys that live with me. Our kids love cereal, and well, as a mom, it’s an easy way to get them some quick carbs and energy, as well as a little protein from the milk, especially on busy mornings. We eat pretty healthy in our house – especially compared to the general public. And I’m not ashamed to admit that my youngest, who is most definitely what you would call a picky eater, has had his share of Lucky Charms and Count Chocula (seasonal obviously) for breakfast. The kid won’t eat anything that isn’t fried, dipped in ranch or coated in sugar, and his pickiness has resulted in more than a few meltdowns. From him. Oh, yes, and from me.
So as a new years goal, we are trying to reduce the amount of added sugar our kids, and we, eat. I think sugar is the devil. It is highly addictive, is added to pretty much everything, and I truly believe the snack food and sweetened drink/soda industry is basically killing us slowly. Now, I’m not saying I don’t partake. I LOVE me some sugar. Cookies, brownies, Nutella…Nutella…Nutella. But I really think I’m quite aware of when I’m consuming sugar. It’s the sweet stuff. The stuff that’s bad for me. Right?
So, back to the grocery store – I’m walking down the cereal aisle – overwhelmed as we all should be by the thousands of options. For many months, I’ve been picking up Cheerios with Protein for days when I can’t make eggs for breakfast. I decided to check out all the Cheerios labels, to see how the added sugar stacked up with my 2 favorite types, Multi Grain and Protein, and my least favorite, plain ‘ol regular Cheerios. Here’s what I found:
Can you guess which one is which?
Yep, 17g of sugars in one serving of Cheerios with Protein. Compared to 1g of added sugar in the original Cheerios and 6g in the Multi Grain. 17g doesn’t sound like a lot. But it’s actually 3.4 teaspoons. Of sugar. And I’m going to assume that your cereal bowl probably holds a bit more than one serving of cereal, 1.25 cups. Most people probably eat about 2-3 servings of cereal at one sitting, plus adding the milk. So you’re getting about 500 – 750 calories, plus about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Yikes.
I apologize for all the math. I hate it too. (I also apologize for the really blurry pics – my phone was dropped in the toilet last year. Never mind how that happened.) But I think these 3 Cheerios boxes are a great example of how misleading advertising is. We all know how important Protein is in our diet, right? So of course our eyes will go directly to the “11g of Protein” on the box and assume it’s the better choice. But the added sugars and calories absolutely make it the worst choice of the three.
Remember every company out there is trying to get our attention. Trying to make us believe their product is the right one for us. It’s up to us as consumers to be diligent by reading labels & ingredients. I love Cheerios, and will still continue to eat them – but now just the basic ‘ol plain kind. But with milk and almonds for some added protein.
Oh, and the Lucky Charms I’ve fed my kid in the past (and will probably do it again in the future), 17g of sugar per serving. Exactly the same as the Cheerios with Protein.
If you have more questions about nutrition labels, or how to make healthy eating choices, contact me for a Diet/Lifestyle/Nutrition Counseling Session*!
*Stacey Moseley (AKA FitFatale Training and FitFataleMom.com) is not a Registered Dietician or Nutritionist. She is however, very enthusiastic about living a healthy lifestyle, and an NASM Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist. **And Stacey Moseley has no affiliation with Cheerios, Cheerios with Protein, Multi Grain Cheerios, Count Chocula or Lucky Charms. She loves them all, and has since she was a kid. She just eats them in a bit more moderation now.