Wanting more nutrition and taste in your kid’s breakfast without completely eliminating all of the “fun” sugary cereals in your home? There are ways to keep both of you happy by reducing the artificial sugar and flavors with yummy, nutritious substitutes. Flax seeds, fresh fruit, stevia, honey and the odd nut are some ways to get on track. Here’s how you can incorporate the good stuff, sneak out some of the bad…and satisfy your little one in the process.
Let your child choose their favorite breakfast cereal. If it’s sugary, that’s ok. Many children enjoy looking that the boxes and mulling over their choices. Be patient and let them take their time. If you consciously mix up your “healthy” cereals with the sugary ones in the cupboard, your child may surprise you and begin to develop a taste for and/or picking them for breakfast on their own.
After your child has picked their cereal, pour it into their bowl until it is about 1/3- 1/2 full. Depending on your goals, decide on the ratio of “not-so-nutritious” to “nutritious” based on the sugar/color/added flavors of the cereal.
Do your best to “match up” your child’s sugary cereal with a similar healthy, nutritious cereal or fruit. For example:
*Fruit Loops can be paired with whole grain, regular or Honey Nut Cheerios;
*Frosted Flakes can be paired easily with plain Corn Flakes;
*Golden Grahams can be paired with Life cereal;
*Cocoa Crispies can be paired with plain Rice Crispies
You can also mix and match “healthy” cereals for texture and flavor to keep things interesting, or allow your child to have a half bowl of their favorite sugary cereal, and make up the other half with fruit. Cut up complimentary fruits into small bite sized pieces so it ‘becomes’ a natural part of the meal. The sugar from the cereal will quickly and seamlessly also sweeten any fruit.
Adding a good helping of fruit to a bowl of cereal is a great way to ensure your little one kickstarts their day with a full serving of “nature’s candy”. Adding dried fruit or nuts also packs a bunch of ‘good’ sugars’, nutrients and texture without sacrificing any flavor.
If your substitutions leave your child complaining that the cereal is not sweet enough or just plain bland, add a little stevia (a natural sweetener) or a swirl of honey. While in the process of ‘weaning’ your child from a sugar habit, this can be a temporary, happy medium.
It is possible for you and your kids to be enthusiastic about a delicious, healthy, and easy breakfast! Just change things up and get adventurous…you’ll both be glad you did!