Kitchen Think: Morning Sugar Bombs


Would you give your kid a Twinkie for breakfast? How about a couple of chocolate chip cookies?

Probably wouldn’t be your first choice… but if they eat certain cereals for breakfast, you may be giving them sugar-bombs that are just as unhealthy.

Most of us know in our heart-of-hearts that sugar-laced cereals aren’t good for us. We just want to believe that they really can’t be that bad for us… so we feed them to our kids (and even to ourselves).

Well Mama’s good friends at the D.C. based Environmental Working Group recently reviewed 84 popular brands of cereal and their report confirms exactly what you already knew: eating these cereals is really bad for you. Really, really bad.

At the top of the list is Kellogg’s “Honey Smacks”. One cup of that cereal has more than 4 teaspoons of sugar (20 grams)… more sugar than a Twinkie (18 grams of sugar)! Post’s “Golden Crisp” and General Mills’ “Wheaties Fuel” are also big offenders, with more than 18 grams of sugar (hey… I thought Wheaties were supposed to be the “Breakfast of Champions?”).

Most of the cereal-making companies don’t follow the federal government’s proposed voluntary guidelines for “foods nutritious enough to be marketed to children,” which is why the cereal that ends up in our kids’ breakfast bowls are high in sugar, sodium and fat… and low in whole grains.

Here are The Worst Big-Brand Children’s Cereals (according to the EWG) on the market:
1. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks
2. Post’s Golden Crisp
3. Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow
4. Quaker Oats’ Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries
5. Quaker Oats’ Cap’n Crunch Original
6. Quaker Oats’ Oh!s
7. Kellogg’s Smorz
8. Kellogg’s Apple Jacks
9. Quaker Oats’ Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries
10. Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original

But don’t despair… there are some sugar-sweetened cereals that aren’t all that bad. These cereals meet nutritional guidelines for sugar, sodium, fat and whole grain.

Here are a few Good Big-Brand Children’s Cereals
1. Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats: Frosted Big Bite, Frosted Bite Size, and Frosted Little Bite
2. General Mills’ Cheerios Original
3. General Mills’ Kix Originals

Read the ingredients before you buy the cereal. The shorter the ingredient list, the better. If it doesn’t contain sugar, honey, molasses, sucrose, brown sugar, fruit juice, concentrate, brown sugar, corn sweetener, lactose, glucose malt syrup or high fructose corn syrup… you’ve got a winner (but probably a cereal your kids won’t want to eat).

And to that point… cereal is easy, convenient and our kids have gotten used to scarfing it down before school. There are a lot of alternatives out there… but it takes a little effort (on your part, or on the part of your kids, if they’re older). Think oatmeal, smoothies, boiled eggs (cook them the night before for an even quicker morning meal).

Cereal is fine now and then… but really, do you want your kids having dessert for breakfast every morning?


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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: