How to Pick a [Healthy] Cereal

February 1, 2012 · 45 comments

I’m a cereal monster.

Those are all some of my favorites. I’m obviously not really picky.

And guess what? I don’t even remember the last time I’ve had any of these.

Snaps for Alyssa!


“Why is this,” you ask? Well. You’re aware of my nutrition plan (if you’re lost, read more here, here, and here). From my plan, I have a list of “best cereals” to choose from.

Before I was armed with “the rules,” I honestly just didn’t know what to look for when choosing a healthy cereal. The ones that looked the “healthiest” to me were sometimes loaded with calories. Do I pick those? Or do I choose from the fat free varieties? It was all confusing for me.



I used to be big on Special K and Honey Bunches of Oats (hellooo, Special K granola: I could bathe in you), but those are made of refined grains (read: these are bad).

When perusing my favorite aisle in the grocery store, here’s what I look for:

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Guess what? General Mills has made it easy to spot the whole grain. Look for the white checkmark on the boxes.

Another rule of thumb: stay away from anything with the word “crunch.” Although crunch is synonymous with “so delicious I could eat you for every meal,” it’s almost always a bad choice for weight loss and good nutrition.

So that leaves me with a few good guys to choose from. Jim gave me a long list of “appropriate” cereals to tackle, as long as I keep it to one serving.

You know, not 8, like I’d really enjoy.

The following are a list of cereals that fit this criteria. I’m a fan of the ones I’ve starred. πŸ™‚

  1. *Fiber Plus Antioxidants Cinnamon Oat Crunch (the “crunch” rule doesn’t apply here, since it’s just the flavoring. It’s Fiber One Crunch that’s bad)
  2. *Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat
  3. *Kashi GOLEAN Original
  4. *Fiber One Honey Squares
  5. Β Chex Multigrain or Rice
  6. Β Fiber One Original
  7. Β Total Whole Grain
  8. Β Puffins Original

Pour a cup of one of these over original almond milk with a side of fruit, and you’ve got yourself a nice, healthy cereal breakfast. One of my faves!

Do as I say, though. Not as I do. I strayed a teensy bit from my guidelines when I had to try these.

As you can see, the sugar is just a little higher than recommended, and it’s missing at least 3 grams of fiber. But it’s delicious.

I simply added some to my Kashi GoLean for an extra pop of flavor. Way to duck the rules, right?

Don’t ever, ever open a box of these if you’re planning on just having a little bit. Once you pop, the fun won’t stop… no matter how hard to you try to make it cease.

You have been warned.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat February 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I picked up a box last night and decided not to buy them – 9 grams of sugar isn’t THAT bad… πŸ˜‰
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2 Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables February 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Kashi go lean crunch is my absolute fav. I think its fits your rules, except for maybe the sugar. But it’s so hard to stick to cereal serving sizes!
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3 Katie @ Livehalffulll February 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

I am scared to try this cereal! I have no control when it comes to cereal portions!!! Eeek!


4 emily February 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I think 8 is way low-balling the number of servings that should be acceptable for cereal. I’m still convinced there is a fair amount of false advertising that goes on with these alleged serving sizes. 3/4 of a cup? Please. That’s not enough to feed my cat.


5 Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots February 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I must get my hands on several boxes of those cheerios!!


6 Janine @ThePurpleGiraffe February 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I’ve avoided the PB Cheerios just because I’m afraid I’ll eat the whole box. Thanks for confirming my suspicions!
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7 Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life February 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I am a cereal monster too and could probably eat it for every meal, which I did a lot in college! My fav on your list is Kashi Go Lean, but I also do love chex multigrain, fiber one original and puffins! πŸ™‚


8 Erin (TexanCouture) February 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Thank you for sharing the cereal rules! Kashi Go Lean and Puffins are my absolute favorites..glad I was on the right track!
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9 Lindsey @ Happy or Hungry February 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I was going to say…I don’t see Puffins anywhere! But there they are at #8. I like the PB Puffins though, which I’m sure are more unhealthy (I’ll have to check the label armed with these new tips). I don’t care though, I love.

I LOVE CEREAL!!!! But luckily I do like boring healthy cereal πŸ™‚
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10 ash @ February 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Peanut butter Cheerios—Yum! Love your blog and writing style!
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11 Colleen @ The Lunchbox Diaries February 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I could eat cereal all day every day. I just want to know if it was Mary Kate or Ashley who came up with the (not so) bright idea of making the average “serving” of cereal 3/4 cup. That just doesn’t do it for me. That’s why I stick to “healthy” cereals so I can feel less guilty about FILLING my bowl πŸ™‚


12 Megan @ Fiterature February 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Love love love the Kashi Honey Toasted Oats. I mix them with a little Fage Yogurt and Fruit…mmm mmm good! Thanks for the post!
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13 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries February 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

i tend to stay away from buying cereal simply because my self control goes out the window with them! i MAY have to snag a box of those PB cheerios though… i’ve been hearing lots of great things about them, and i LOVE peanut butter!
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14 Theresa February 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

what a good post…i actually like alot of those cereals on your list..although, not gonna lie, much rather have goLEAN crunch then original..ohhh wells. PB cheerios=must have on my list of things to try
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15 Bess @ Bess Be Fit February 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I destroyyyyyy cereal. I love Puffins! It’s one of my healthy faves…original, pb, and cinnamon flavors! Also love the multigrain cheerios…but I need to try pb cheerios. yum.
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16 Kailey February 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Sometimes our brains are so similar it scares me. I’m shocked I didn’t author this blog post. You have no idea how badly I want cereal right now…and for the past three weeks…and always. I have a date on Monday with the peanut butter Cheerios that are currently waiting in the cupboard. They about to be OWNED. Cereal killa, killa, killa.

I’ve also wanted to try that Fiber One honey puff square stuff but the ingredients in Fiber One scare me. What IS all that fiber??
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17 Lauren February 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm

When I was younger, my sister and I weren’t allowed to get any cereal that had sugar as the first or second ingredient. I generally just make sure the ingredient list is full of real food, but don’t really pay attention to fiber, sugar or sodium. Oopsies.
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18 Kelly @ Running Kellometers February 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Ahhh!! I love this post!! Sooooo good to know about the cereal factor. I love love my cereal but don’t really know the best ones out there. Thanks so much! I think I really need to find a local nutritionist. πŸ™‚
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19 Dorsa @ Running Thoughts February 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I want to try the PB cheerios….. I haven’t seen them around tho…
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20 Karla @myhighonlife February 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I’m not a big cereal person, I did have some this morning though. Kashi Go lean with some pom seeds and some soy milk. Even though I don’t really like cereal I do have to say I’d love to try the PB cheerios.. πŸ™‚
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21 Katie @ Plates and Paste February 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Thanks for this! Makes me realize that I haven’t been choosing as healthy cereals as I thought. And I am totally lovin’ on those PB Cheerios right now.
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22 Kelsey @readysetfeast February 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm

i love those peanut butter cheerios.
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23 Kati Mora, MS, RD, Kellogg's FiberPlus(R) Wellness Advocate February 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I’m so excited to see our Cinnamon Oat Crunch cereal listed on your healthier cereals list! Let me know if you have any additional questions about its nutritional content or are interested in some free fiber resources.


24 Amber K February 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I haven’t had cereal in over a year! My absolute favorite was Kashi Go Lean, sadly I couldn’t eat it after going gluten-free. It was the only cereal I had found that was actually filling. And trying to find a gluten-free, high-protein, clean cereal is seemingly impossible. I miss you Kashi!
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25 Chelsea February 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I LOVE FIBER ONE! Special with the raisins, mmm.


26 Sierra @ Posh Meets Pavement February 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I am dying to try the Fiber One squares since I love their fiber pellets. Go Lean is also so crunchy and doesn’t really get stale. Trader Joe’s also has some great cereal options that are well-priced.
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27 Katy @ HaveYouHurd February 1, 2012 at 6:40 pm

My husband (and most of the times me too) eats a bowl of cereal for “dessert” EVERYDAY! This is a great guide for us! I know most of the good cereals have “too much” sugar but was never sure what “too much” really was! Good news is it looks like we get the healither cereal most of the time anyways! SCORE!

P.S. You’re totally right about those PB cheerios. My cereal killer hubby had them the other day with CHOCOLATE MILK! *i die*


28 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy February 1, 2012 at 7:07 pm

You forgot to add Quaker Oatmeal Squares to that list ;). That is pretty much the only cereal I eat…


29 Heather @ Run Eat Play February 1, 2012 at 9:22 pm

I have such a cereal problem. I usually have to avoid it because I can eat half a box in one sitting. Like yesterday, I ate 3 bowls of my kid’s chocolate chex without meaning to. Those babies are good!
I love the new peanut butter cheerios! I try to stick to those, Kashi Go Lean, and the Bear Naked cereals.
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30 Ellie@Fit for the Soul February 2, 2012 at 4:48 am

Some of these are awesome!! Fiber one is (I believe) heavily sweetened with nutrasweet? Or something like that? But it tastes good! πŸ˜€ And one cereal that’s probably not the best for us but sooooo amazingly addicting is quaker oatmeal squares! ahhh!
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31 watch for running February 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I am not that Cereal Fanatic, but I love eating cereal specially when I’m on my diet routine because it can really make me lose weight but I am not that peaky but I always make sure that there is this whole grain logo in the box because I know it is healthy. Thanks for sharing..

PS: I love those eyes. πŸ™‚
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32 Krysty February 2, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Just got a box of the PC Cheerios today…gonna give em a go tomorrow with the regular multi grain mixed it. Normally not a PB cereal fan…but they sounded DE-lightful >.< I totally did a "say whaaaaa…" when I saw them in this post yesterday!
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33 kristen @ livinlifeinlouie February 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I love cereal too! I try not to keep it in the house haha.Except I do keep fiber one cereal, its great in so many things to get some extra fiber and crunch (ice cream, yogurt, pudding…) BUTT cheerios PB. I must get this ASAP haha


34 Sarah February 6, 2012 at 2:19 am

love your blog and share a love of cereal too!


35 drenouch February 14, 2012 at 10:53 am

The cereals look awesome!I want to try this too…
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