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Father and child eating cereal together at kitchen table

Is Your Breakfast a Sugar Explosion?

Finding a quick and healthy breakfast can be a difficult task when you’re trying to get the kids ready for school or running late to the office. But settling for a quick and easy breakfast can lay the groundwork for an unhealthy day, and most likely doesn’t hold the nutritional values needed to get your day off to a good start. OhioHealth Dietitian Susannah Covey has 5 foods that are packed with too much sugar and not enough nutrients.

Bowl of fruity cereal loopsBreakfast Cereal

Breakfast cereal has a reputation for being a quick and easy way to get your day started. Although a bowl or two might bring an end to your morning hunger pangs, many cereals are considered unhealthy and counterproductive for those looking to eat healthy. “Many people choose breakfast cereals for a quick meal, thinking they are choosing a nutritious food. While they can be a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, they can also be loaded with sugar and provide little to no protein, which can help with satiety,” says Covey. If breakfast is a staple in your diet, Covey advises using a measuring cup to control portions or choose options with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving.

Glass pitcher and cup filled with orange juiceFruit Juice

Adding fruit juice to your breakfast could derail an otherwise healthy start to your day. Just one 8-ounce glass could contain more than 100 calories and 20 grams of sugar. Eating actual fruit is a good alternative to the sugary juices, according to Covey.

“Fruit juice, even if it is natural, should be limited in your diet and replaced with the whole fresh fruit as much as possible, which will also provide fiber and help with blood sugar control.”

Stack of waffles with powdered sugar on topPancakes and Waffles

These common breakfast foods might be delicious and filling, but they are generally viewed as an unhealthy way to start the day. Instead of the important and valuable nutrients that can be found in other, healthier options, these foods contain high amounts of flour, eggs, sugar and milk. “When paired with the typical toppings of butter and maple syrup, they should really be considered more of a decadent dessert than a way to fuel your body for the day,” says Covey.


Glass filled with a fruit smoothieSmoothies

According to Covey, not all smoothies are created equal! While smoothies can be a quick option to get multiple food groups in one meal, packing them with excessive fruit portions, fruit juice or flavored syrups can quickly turn your drink into a sugar bomb! Adding a source of protein like Greek yogurt or low sugar liquids like unsweetened almond milk can help keep smoothies well-balanced and nutritious.


Two granola bars with dried cranberriesGranola Bars

Granola bars have become a popular grab and go item for breakfast. Unfortunately, they do a poor job of satiating hunger because of a lack of protein and fiber. Granola bars also frequently contain high amounts of sugar. “When looking for a granola bar, choose those with less than 10 grams of sugar and more than 10 grams protein per serving,” says Covey.

Avoiding items that are quick and easy could help you get your day off to a healthy start. Covey generally recommends breakfast foods, that contain protein, healthy fats and whole grains.


Looking to learn more? How about a sugar schooling?