How Cereal Can Be a Complete Meal

Mornings are busy at my house. Getting everyone fed, dressed and out the door can truly be a challenge. But as a registered dietitian nutritionist, I do prioritize getting breakfast on the table. Luckily, a simple bowl of cereal provides the nutrients you need to fuel your morning. So, if you are among the 31 million Americans who skip breakfast every morning, set a goal to reach for that cereal box. Not convinced? Let’s explore the many benefits of the bowl.

Strong Start with MyPlate

When we pair milk and cereal with fruit, we cover nearly all the sections of MyPlate – the official guide for a balanced diet.

  • Milk covers the dairy section and provides a high-quality protein. It’s important you get high-quality protein each morning: it keeps you fuller longer, helps with weight maintenance, leads to new muscle creation and aids in blood sugar control – all benefits that help us feel better and perform better.
  • Cereal grains contain complex carbohydrates, are low in fat and offer essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Fruits offer additional vitamins and fiber.

A bowl of cereal is also a family favorite. That’s good news, because cereal with milk is the leading source of 10 nutrients, including essential vitamins such as A, B6, B12 and D. It’s also a great way for kids to power their mornings. Kids who eat a healthy breakfast have better attention and memory at school, which makes them better students.

Cereal Has Become Healthier – but Know Your Labels

The cereal aisle continues to evolve. Many ready-to-eat cereals have overhauled their sugary past.  A recent study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found four significant nutrition changes to our typical cereals:

  • Whole grain became a key ingredient
  • Fiber increased 32 percent
  • Sodium decreased 14 percent
  • Sugar fell 10 percent

Their list should be your list. In your grocery store, look for all these changes. Don’t be deceived by the claims on the front of the box. Sometimes that’s just marketing. Take time to look at the nutrition label, this is the best way to ensure you are getting what you need. A good-for-you cereal should have these items:

  • 100 percent whole grain
  • Fiber
  • Minimal amount of sugar

Additional protein is a bonus. Don’t forget about taste. It’s a healthy change that should benefit your body, but cereal should be yummy too. Family favorites such as oats, flakes, shredded wheat and crispy rice can be both nutritious and delicious. Great taste can bring everyone to the table.

Be a Role Model

Breakfast should be a family affair. The foods mom and dad eat, kids eat as well. Do your kids still need convincing to start their day off right?  Share the star power of the National Football League with Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick. He knows how to fuel his morning.

Start tomorrow off strong and embrace the cereal bowl. Learn more about the power of breakfast. 

By Katie McKee, MCN, RDN, LD

Katie has always loved teaching others about the power of nutrition. She has a background in journalism as a reporter, writer and editor and has been part of the Dairy MAX team since 2015. When she's not working, Katie enjoys cooking and spending time with her young son and family. Learn more about Katie

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