Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My 500-Calorie Bowl of Cereal

I admit that I don't always eat breakfast immediately upon waking up in the morning and sometimes I wait until I've finished my early morning workout. I eat breakfast every day, but I'm often not hungry first thing in the morning. One or two hours after waking up, when hunger kicks in, I look forward to eating a healthy and satisfying breakfast.

With the release of the new Dietary Guidelines a week ago, I've been paying particular attention to the recommendation to make half of my plate fruits and vegetables. Dietitians have been recommending this for years. Half of all the foods that we eat in a day should be fruits and vegetables. Breakfast is a great place to eat a full serving (or two) of fruit. It's also a great place to eat whole grains and satisfy the Dietary Guideline to make half of our grains whole.

How do you pick a healthy breakfast cereal? I choose a whole grain cereal, either cooked or dry. The first ingredients listed on the package should say "whole" and the list should not be excessively long or contain unrecognizable ingredients. I also look at fiber and sugar. I don't always choose the highest fiber cereal because sometimes it comes with too much sugar. Currently, I'm eating Cascadian Farm Organic Multigrain Squares. Three-quarters of a cup has 2 grams of dietary fiber and 4 grams of sugar. I eat about one and a quarter cups which is 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of sugar. The calories listed on a cereal box are the last thing that I look at. I find that many of the low calorie breakfast cereals are anemic; they don't provide much nutrition and can leave you hungry an hour later. I'd much rather eat a cereal with substance, and for a cereal to have substance, it must have some calories.

To my bowl of cereal, I add a hefty portion of fruit. I easily add more than a cup of fruit. I'm trying to fill half of the bowl with fruit. I add my own fruit rather than choose a cereal with fruit-like pieces that may or may not be real fruit. All this fruit provides me with a bounty of antioxidants, nutrients and fiber, and it fills me up. I top off my cereal with a scant quarter cup of nuts for added nutrients, fiber and protein and a full cup of milk (I prefer soy milk) for more protein.

My 500-calorie bowl of cereal sufficiently fuels my morning activities and meets my nutritional needs.  I'm not hungry again until lunch, at which time I'm ready for my 500-calorie leftovers!  

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