Don't be knocked off your good breakfast by a cereal killer

Real-life medical and heath advice from an experienced nurse and medical staffing expert.


Modern life offers ugly bargains.

The least pleasant of these – the one that tests your ability to be grownup about hard dietary choices – requires Houdini-like self-trickery. You pretend to like things that are good for you, and pretend to hate things that are bad for you.  Act if thee has faith and it shall be provided thee.

So if you can self-hypnotize yourself that Brussels sprouts are really yummy, then you can convince yourself of almost anything.

For some of us, this self-control demands we try to think that the worst breakfast cereals for our bodies were never that compelling to our taste buds in the first place.

But you can’t live a lie on every count. We all know that McDonald’s French fries were much more addictive in the days when they were drenched in trans-fats.  Sure, they were killers, but oh that taste.

The same is true for many breakfast cereals. The demands of dietary righteousness now require us to claim we never really liked Kellogg’s Honey Smacks.

You can’t kid yourself forever. You loved them. Or somebody at your breakfast table loved them. So, let’s not pretend about that. Time for honesty.

The culprit is sugar. Isn’t it always?

Consider this. Of the breakfast cereals studied by the public-interest researchers at Environmental Working Group, some have more sugar by weight than any dessert you’d pick up at a restaurant. Some are mostly sugar. Literally.

Honey Smacks pack 15 grams of sugar per 3/4-cup serving. That’s the equivalent of 3.75 teaspoons — more than half of what the American Heart Association recommends kids eat for an entire day. It would be healthier just to dissolve the sugar in a small glass of water and have your child swig it down. Now THERE’S a morning buzz, for ya.

In this case, Honey Smacks have only 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Your child might as well eat cardboard. At least there’s some fiber.

Five of the top 10 worst-for-you cereals are from Kellogg’s. Four are from Quaker Oats, which apparently doesn’t use very many oats in anything.

The EWG’s other worst kid’s cereals, listed by percent sugar by weight.

1. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks — 55.6 percent

2. Post Golden Crisp — 51.9 percent

3. Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow — 48.3 percent

4. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries — 46.9 percent

5. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original — 44.4 percent

6. Quaker Oats Oh!s — 44.4 percent

7. Kellogg’s Smorz — 43.3 percent

8. Kellogg’s Apple Jacks — 42.9 percent

9. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries — 42.3 percent

10. Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original — 41.4 percent.


So now that I’ve ruined your morning, at least I should counterbalance the bad news with some better ideas for breakfast.

Try these from the nutritionists and dietary scientists at Boston University.

Create an oatmeal assembly line with toppings that kids can choose from- cinnamon, dried raisins or cherries.

Blend a smoothie with yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit, and hand kid a whole-wheat English muffin with peanut butter as they go out the door.

Waffles work when topped with yogurt, peanut butter, or applesauce

Or fix a “waffle sandwich," Put two slices of crust-free whole-wheat bread in a waffle maker with low-fat cottage cheese and cinnamon in between.

Don’t forget French toast. Make a whole loaf of French toast ahead of time using whole-wheat bread, an egg, skim milk, and cinnamon.

Freeze the loaf afterward, and then pop a piece in the toaster in the morning. Kids can eat it with bananas and fruit or as a French toast sandwich with peanut butter.

Mix plain nonfat yogurt with vanilla and cinnamon, then layer with berries and whole-grain cereal for a healthy breakfast parfait.

As I have mentioned before, sugar has become the new nutritional heroin. Even food as seemingly innocent a yogurt is gorged with sugar. Just try to find a good yogurt serving with less than 20 grams of sugar in each serving. And the biggest processors – Dannon and Yoplait – are often the worst offenders.


Luckily for me, I am naturally sweet.



Who am I, and why would a person listen to me? Both fair questions. I’m Christine Hammerlund and I’ve been a nurse for years. I have delivered babies, saved lives, and cared for hundreds of patients through their medical triumphs and tragedies. Now I run Assured Healthcare at http://www.assuredhealthcare.com. We're a multi-million dollar medical staff provider in Illinois. I live in Antioch, Ill. Got health questions for me, whether large or small? I’ll answer. Visit us at http://www.facebook.com/AssuredHealthcareStaffing  and Chrishammerlund@yahoo.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Malta October 27, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Recent nutrition research indicates sugar is more than just "bad for you". It is actually TOXIC.....one of the most healthful things you can do for yourself is stick with water or very lightly sweetened tea for hydration.....easily avoid tens of thousands of calories per year with this simple habit
Lynn Sanders October 27, 2012 at 10:27 PM
So true about sugar being toxic! Sugar is inside so many foods, and can be hard to avoid. Best to avoid all processed foods... As I learned from my husband, Joel Sanders, a Highland Park holistic dentist, the carbs we eat (pasta, bread, crackers, potatoes) also break down into sugar. To stay healthy, It's best to focus on more veggies, fruits, proteins and nuts/seeds.


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