Cereal is a mainstay on the breakfast menu in many households, and I understand why – it’s quick, easy, and kids can serve it themselves.
But, despite my kids begging for this box or that one, commercial cereal isn’t on our Back To School shopping list.
Note: I’ll be sharing more posts with practical tips and helpful nutrition information in the coming months. These aren’t intended to judge those who don’t agree or do things differently, but rather to answer the many questions I get from friends and readers about what my family eats and why.
5 Reasons Why My Kids Don’t Eat Breakfast Cereal
We all know that most commercial breakfast cereals are high in added sugars. Despite some efforts to reduce sugar in their products, the leading brands still contain up to 3 teaspoons of refined sugar per cup, and many still contain high fructose corn syrup or other highly processed sugar syrups!
2. Flavors, colors, and other added ingredients
Cereal manufacturers are finally getting the message that customers don’t want artificial colors and flavors in their cereals. I applaud their efforts to phase out artificial colors and flavors, but that doesn’t automatically mean that “natural” versions of food additives are healthy. Most consumers don’t realize that “natural flavors” can contain up to 100 different substances, including synthetic chemicals such as the solvent propylene glycol or the preservative BHA, which is banned in some countries due to it’s association with cancer, thyroid disruption, and developmental changes in animals.
Use of GMO crops means higher pesticide and herbicide residues in our food. Most commercial cereals use at least one ingredient derived from crops that are “high risk” for GMO such as corn, which mean that millions of American school children are starting their day off with a dose of chemical toxins.
4. They’re expensive
I should clarify – “healthier” cereals are expensive (e.g., those with no GMOs, higher fiber, less sugar, fewer additives). When comparing price per serving, they’re often double or triple the cost of your average box of hypercolor-super sweet-magic O’s! And many of them still contain natural flavors, sugar syrups, and other unwanted ingredients!
5. They aren’t “real food”
Probably the most important factor to me personally is that God didn’t make cereal. Yes, He made wheat, oats, and other grains – but these are often heavily processed and chemically manipulated to the point where they’re no longer recognizable to our eyes or to our palates. Of all the things I aim to teach my kids about food, health, and their bodies, the one fundamental truth I want them to grasp is this:
God made good food.
We should aim to appreciate and accentuate the natural beauty, flavor, and health value of His foods, not to modify and manipulate them as much as we like, expecting to suffer no consequences.
Top 5 Healthier-than-Cereal Breakfasts
2. Oat cereal
Most mornings, my kids eat a bowl of “oat cereal” – rolled oats and raw milk (why we drink raw milk) with a little dried fruit, chia seeds, cinnamon, and honey. They can make this themselves in a few minutes, and can change up the stir-ins to their liking.
3. Cooked Oatmeal
Rolled oats or instant oatmeal are both healthy and minimally processed. Cook in water with some dried fruit or nuts, then stir in a little butter or raw milk, a sprinkle of cinnamon and sea salt, and finish with a drizzle of honey or pure maple syrup.
4. Dried fruit and nuts
It doesn’t get much easier than grabbing a handful of dried fruit and nuts. Completely natural and with plenty of healthy fat and protein to keep your kiddo satisfied until lunch time.
5. Breakfast cookies
My kids love it when I make Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies or Peanut Butter Chia Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies. They can be made ahead, frozen, and quickly defrosted for a grab and go breakfast on busy school mornings.
Do You Buy Breakfast Cereals? Why or Why Not?