Health Tips

Choosing a breakfast cereal

One of the most popular types of breakfast is cereal.  However, there are literally hundreds of different types of cereal and not all are created equally. Some are highly processed and nutritionally deficient, containing high levels of sugar (often in sneaky hidden forms) and artificial colors and flavorings that are most certainly bad for your health. 

The healthiest types of cereal on the market are bran cereal, bran flakes and simple rolled or steel-cut oatmeal. If you have coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, check the labels carefully. 

To choose the healthiest breakfast cereal, check the label for:

  • 5 grams or more of fiber per serving;
  • Less than 300 mg of sodium per serving;
  • Less than 5 grams of sugar per serving;
  • Whole grain as the first item on the ingredient list.

Serving sizes for cereals can vary widely, though 1 cup is common. Make sure to choose low-fat or non-fat dairy or non-dairy milk.

Beware of instant oatmeal

Instant oatmeal packets or cups may seem tempting, after all they only take two minutes or so to prepare. Read the labels carefully though as many are loaded with sugar. A much better option is ordinary oatmeal which can be prepared in three simple, speedy ways: 

  1. Microwave. Just mix 1/2 cup of oatmeal with 1 cup of milk (dairy or non-dairy) or water. Microwave on high for one minute, stir and microwave for 1 more minute. Microwave speed can vary, so the first time you use this method, observe and stop as soon as the oatmeal begins to rise and take note of the time for the next time you cook oatmeal.  
  2. Soak overnight. Mix 1/2 cup of oatmeal with 1 cup of milk (dairy or non-dairy) or water and leave in the fridge overnight. Enjoy cold (seriously delicious!) or microwave for 1 minute to warm, up in the morning. 
  3. Prepare a large batch of oatmeal on the stove top. This takes about 5 minutes for rolled oats, longer for steel cut and requires frequent stirring. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers and enjoy when you are next in an oatmeal mood. 

Add a pinch of cinnamon when preparing your oatmeal and this can help reduce sugar cravings later in the day. Enjoy with flax-seeds, banana, apple or a handful of berries or nuts and seeds to improve taste and nutritional value.