A Sugary Start

I want to talk about breakfast cereals and sugar...

It still amazes me exactly how much sugar is contained within a pretty average serving of frequently bought and frequently consumed breakfast cereals. 

Before I launch into my criticism of the breakfast cereal industry in general (I’m especially bothered by those marketed directly towards children), it is worth noting that over the past few years, many have made changes to the ingredients and have brought salt levels (yes salt not sugar!) down, many now coming in under the recommendations of 150mg of sodium per 30g serving. However, as much as I applaud these changes, and there have been some small changes to sugar content too, further changes are needed.  

There are indeed new targets set out which will see a staggering 2000 tonnes LESS sugar being used in just Kelloggs' products alone. Manufacturers do appear to be getting on board but are understandably treading the difficult line between making nutritional changes to products whilst retaining a good taste that satisfies consumers and keeps them coming back to repurchase.

I won’t bore you with lots of stats of how much sugar is in this and that because I would rather focus on what you can be eating... but just to put this whole article in context:

Eating one bowl of Frosties in the morning will load you up with 11.1g of sugar per 30g serving (and chances are that most would pour more than a 30g serving. This equates to 37% sugar! For a 4-6 year old child where recommended daily MAXIMUM sugar intake is 19g, they have already had over 50% before they have even started the school day. If they have a sugary cereal bar for a mid morning snack then chances are that the entire 19g is well and truly exceeded.

Crunchy nut cornflakes (or own brand versions) are also high, as are the various versions of Coco Pops/chocolate rice cereal. Be suspicious of anything "frosted", chocolatey or with "honey". Chances are these will be high in sugar.

So what should you be eating?

In terms of packet cereal, Weetabix and shredded wheat are two of the better ones and, with some milk and extra chopped fruit, you can have a reasonably healthy and sustaining breakfast. 

Alternatively, I would recommend trying the following:

Homemade muesli
This way you get lots of what you love and no bits that you don’t! I love jumbo oats with coconut flakes, cranberries, mango, sunflower seeds, flaked almonds, sesame seeds and when I have any in the fridge, some chunks of stem ginger. Mix it all up and serve with milk/yoghurt.

Overnight oats
Takes minutes to do yet will provide you with a portable breakfast to grab in the morning. Take an old clean jam jar with a lid and throw in 50g of rolled oats, 2 big tablespoons of natural yoghurt, 100mls of milk and a selection of fruit and nuts. My current favourites are blueberries with mango and coconut flakes, or raspberries with a drizzle of almond butter and maple syrup. Another great one is chopped bananas and pecan nuts with a drizzle of honey/maple syrup.

Takes a lot to beat a steaming bowl of porridge. The basic ratio is 1 oats : 2 fluid (milk and/or water). I prefer it with just milk for texture, creaminess and for the extra protein and calcium. I top it with some almond butter, chopped bananas or some fruit compote (basically I just warm up some frozen berries and mash them down in a pan whilst it heats). 

Poached eggs on toast
Poaching is super healthy but if this is beyond your morning capabilities (if often is for me!) then scrambled or fried (with very little fat) is a simpler and more fool proof option. Serve on seeded/sourdough/wholegrain bread for a really sustaining breakfast. Aim for 2 x eggs and 1 x toast.

So there are a few healthy options and for those who are still looking at this list thinking "I just can’t see myself doing this in the morning", then simply grab a banana and a handful of almonds and walk out of the door... that will at least tick nutritional boxes, provide you with some great nutrition and keep you going for a couple of hours. 

Make 2018 the year that you start to love breakfast and that you ditch the packet cereals. You will save money and a LOT of sugar!