Let’s look at this nutrition myth and set the record straight once and for all so that you can cross it off your list.
A hearty nutritious breakfast is the much-needed fuel to restart the engine of the car after a night’s halt-over hence the name ‘break-fast’. It kick-starts the body metabolism and refuels the body’s glucose stores. Studies have shown that breakfast improves kids’ attention span, concentration, and memory. It prevents irritability, fatigue, and restlessness.
Our fast-paced lifestyles constantly change in tandem with increasing spending power, time crunch, dependency on convenience, and so-called health and fitness consciousness. So most reach out for breakfast cereals. Besides, let’s not forget the influence of western lifestyle and eating trends!
What goes into the cereal box?
Commercial breakfast cereals simply translate to refined carbs with added sugar. Why? Because breakfast cereal is made from processed grain. The grain-flour is mixed with water, sugar and/or chocolate and this mixture is extruded. The cereals maybe puffed, flaked or shredded. To top it off, they are coated with chocolate or frosted with sugar before drying and packaging.
Do they deliver what they promise?
The main marketing strategy is undoubtedly the nutritional plank. There is a wide range of commercial cereals to suit the needs of different people be it kids, all-family segment, aging adults or weight watchers. Consumers need to cautious that these breakfast cereals are often marketed with dubious claims and labels which can be misinterpreted.
As a matter of fact, a research conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on children’s breakfast cereal highlights that “promotional labeling on cereal boxes is designed to distract consumers from focusing on the unhealthy sugar content by making claims that the product provides important nutrients, such as ‘Excellent Source of Vitamin D’ or ‘Good Source of Fiber’ and so on.”
While children are enticed with cartoons or superheroes, parents are convinced with claims. EWG research also found that children’s cereals with cartoon characters on the box are among the most highly sweetened of all.
Another aspect is that the nutritional benefits claimed on the pack are often not due to the cereal alone but with the suggested ingredients to be added or eaten with. If pairing with milk meets a percentage of protein and calcium requirement or adding fruits gives the required fiber then why do we need the cereal in the first place?
Whip-up your own cereal
So now you know that breakfast cereals aren’t healthy as claimed. But if your child cannot do without breakfast cereals, make your own healthy cereal mix with unprocessed plain cereals. How about ragi flakes with yogurt or milk, a handful of fresh fruits and a sprinkle of dry fruits/nuts!