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Is cereal for breakfast good or bad
liz weiss dietician nutritionist

One of the best ways to be sure your kids have all their nutritional bases covered is to pour a bowl of cereal with milk. If kids don’t have milk in the morning, it’s unlikely they’ll get the three servings they need each day.

Liz Weiss, Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian

Choices of cold cereal for breakfast with milk and wooden spoons

We all do it. Day and night.

We grab a bowl of cereal for a quick meal. Meh. We’re hungry and don’t want to take the time to make something else.

But . . . if you had the time, the ingredients and more energy, would you choose something else instead?

Or are you happy with a bowl of your favorite cereal as a healthy choice?

(In fact, you’re thinking about how much you want it right now, aren’t you?)

muscular good looking guy eating cereal for breakfast

Use this flowchart to decide if you want cereal right now.


Please humor me. There’s a method to my madness.

I’m trying to prove an important point about knowing if breakfast is good for us.

Is cereal for breakfast good or bad? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Do you really want cereal right now? We answer these questions. Really. 1

Did you notice Kellogg’s logo at the bottom of the infographic?

Do you feel like the flowchart was slanted towards convincing you to have a bowl of cereal? Even when the information is basically true?

Now you know how doctors, nutritionists and dietitians felt for decades.

Lenna F. Cooper, B.S., was the first to declare breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day in a 1917 issue of Good Health.

Vintage kelloggs corn flakes commercial

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it is the meal that gets the day started. Above all, it should be made up of easily digested foods, and balanced in such a way that the various food elements are present in the right proportions. It should not be a heavy meal, consisting of over five to seven hundred calories.

Makes sense, right? Who could argue with that? No one argued with her reasoning.

They doubted its message because the magazine was edited by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.

Yeah, that Kellogg.

As director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Dr Kellogg developed vegetarian foods that were easy for his patients to digest.

breathing exercises at the battle creek saniarium in michigan

In 1877 Kellogg created a cereal made of oat, wheat and corn flakes. It was so popular with his patients that he founded the Sanitas Food Company to make them available to the public.

In 1894 Corn Flakes as a cereal became a thing. John Kellogg, his wife Ella and his brother Will all claim to be the one who invented it. On April 14, 1896 John Kellogg received a patent for his cereal flake process – in his name only.

They used this patented process with other grains too, like rice. And sold Rice Krispies.

You know the rest of the story.

Breakfast became a big deal, and all the Kelloggs became rich.

kids sticking their tongues out at each other while eating breakfast

Not all cereals are created equal, and with grocery aisles dedicated to boxes of flakes, puffs, rings and more, it can be hard to know which cereals to choose.

Here are some basic tips:

  • Understand nutrition labels. Paying attention to the serving size, calories, protein and vitamin and mineral percentages will make you more informed about just what you can get out of each particular cereal.
  • Some cereals give nutritional information including the milk you’re going to pour on it, so read carefully when comparing one to another.
  • Look for options that are a good source of fiber (at least 3 grams per serving) to help you get a jump start on the fiber you need each day.
  • Experiment with additions such as fresh or dried fruit and nuts to create even more nutrients.
Is cereal for breakfast good or bad? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Do you really want cereal right now? We answer these questions. Really. 2

A healthy breakfast can help kids perform better in the classroom or the playing field.

Is cereal for breakfast good or bad? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Do you really want cereal right now? We answer these questions. Really. 3

Research has shown that children who eat a nutritious breakfast in the morning have an easier time focusing on their schoolwork since they are not distracted by hunger.

Dr. Teresia O’Connor, assistant professor of pediatrics at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital

twin boys in chemistry class at school

Dr. O’Connor says a healthy breakfast includes whole grains to make you feel fuller longer, such as oatmeal, whole wheat toast or whole grain cereal. (See our article on the search for a better breakfast.)

“It’s also a good time to eat fruit.”

See? The age-old breakfast of cereal with milk and a glass of orange juice is still considered a healthy breakfast. Choosing whole fruit over juice is even better. “Whole fruit provides dietary fiber, which is a part of a healthy diet and can help prevent heart disease and cancer.”

Make sure your family is eating only ONE breakfast per day.

Dr. O’Connor warns that your kids may be having too many calories in the morning if they are eating breakfast at home AND at school.

If your children’s school has a breakfast program, have a talk with them to see if they would prefer eating at home with their family or at school with their friends.

Cute toddler girl making faces while eating cereal for breakfast
The Takeaway Today

Is cereal for breakfast good or bad?

When you choose the right boxed cereal, it can be a good choice:

  • Corn Flakes and other whole-grain cereals were created by a doctor to benefit his patients.
  • A leading pediatrician gives thumbs up to whole-grain cereal for breakfast combined with fruit and nuts.
  • Cereal is a quick and easy meal that can give you energy any time of day.

Now you can eat breakfast cereal when you’re in a hurry and give yourself a pat on the back as you go out the door – on time.


Some Corn Flake Fun

No, this has not been sponsored by Kellogg’s or Corn Flakes. Surprise! But I did have fun going down the corn flake trail while writing. You’ve gotta see this!

How to Cook Corn Flakes

Now we know Corn Flakes is a part of a healthy breakfast. Especially when you’re half asleep and in a hurry. Here’s a quick reference so you know how to cook corn flakes properly under those conditions.

corn flakes cooking instructions

360° View from Inside a Corn Flakes Box

You know you’ve thought about it. (Aren’t we always half-asleep when we’re munching on Corn Flakes?) You’re sitting at the table, staring at the box, wondering what it would feel like inside.

Is cereal for breakfast good or bad? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Do you really want cereal right now? We answer these questions. Really. 4
Click to see a panoramic view from INSIDE the Corn Flakes box.

Now you know. Mystery solved. You’re welcome.

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