Although I typically work with adults, last week I had the pleasure of doing two workshops for children of Grant Thorton employees. It was “Bring your Child to Work Day” and they needed someone to entertain the tikes for a while. The theme of the workshops was “Breakfast Makeovers” and they wanted me to specifically talk about breakfast cereals. Being gluten- and dairy-free myself, this is one food group I typically skip. It was a great reminder though, that along with all the sugary junk that’s out there on the shelves, there are some healthier options available for a quick and easy breakfast.

I asked the kids what would be a healthier breakfast, and showed them the following image:

They all agreed that cereal would be a better option than Twinkies, although some didn’t even know what a Twinkie was – small victory! 😉 They were shocked to find out that a bowl of Honey Smacks had more sugar than the 2 Twinkies, AKA highly processed cake filled with hydrogenated frosting! Honey Smacks is not the only offender. In fact many of the top-selling brands are loaded with sugar, with some brands such as Froot Loops and Apple Jacks listing sugar as their first ingredient. To drive my point home, I brought in packages of Oreos, chocolate-covered doughnuts, Honey Buns and chocolate chip cookies to show them that certain cereals had as much or more sugar than many of their favorite treats. They got a real kick out of this and I’m sure their parents got an earful after my presentation. They realized that if there are going to eat a sugary treat, they’d rather have it in the form of a chocolate-covered doughnut rather than a bow of cereal. This is what I teach my clients – to be aware of what they are putting in their bodies! It’s not that you can’t ever splurge and have a cookie. The key is to be aware of the junk that’s hiding in so called “healthy foods”.

Note: Most of the top offenders have cartoon characters aimed at your children.

Which would you prefer, cereal or cookies and doughnuts?

I then had the kids sample a few healthy cereal options and held my breath hoping that they wouldn’t spit it out. To my delight, they asked for seconds and thirds and finally I had to just hand the boxes over, so I could continue on with my presentation. Here are the cereals we tested: all have less than 6 grams of sugar per serving, 5 grams of fiber, and no artificial flavorings and additives.

What are your favorite healthy cereals? Do you have a favorite healthy breakfast you’d like to share?