The Mother of Adventure

Sugar-free Day #3: An epic breakfast fail!

on January 24, 2013
Raisin Bran

Raisin Bran actually contains more sugar than Honeycomb cereal! A lot of the sugar content comes from the raisins.

My husband has always said that I gravitate towards what he calls “Geeky Cereals.” That is, I would choose Raisin Bran over Fruit Loops any day of the week. While Ian enjoys an occasional bowl of Apple Jacks, I prefer something more along the lines of a granola involving pumpkin seeds.

While he thinks I do it just to “feel earthy” and to look down my nose at his sugary bowl, I can honestly say that it’s not forced on my part – I think Raisin Bran or a good granola tastes amazing. But it is true that I’ve always believed it to be significantly healthier than any of Ian’s sugar-coated concoctions.

So you can imagine my surprise this morning when I casually compared the nutrition labels of two cereals sitting on our pantry shelf – Honeycomb and my beloved Raisin Bran. In 1.25 cups of Honeycomb, there are 10 grams of sugar; in just a single cup of Raisin Bran, there is a whopping 13 grams of sugar.

By applying the simple equation from yesterday’s post – based on Nutrition Action – just one cup of Raisin Bran would already be giving me 3.25 teaspoons of my daily recommended intake of added sugar. And women only have 6.5 teaspoons a day to play with!

Admittedly, I’ve never been a big reader of nutritional labels, mainly because the numbers just sort of swim before my eyes without making any sense – not unlike Grade 11 Algebra. Never one to count calories, I didn’t know what I was looking at in a label. What was a good number? What was a bad one?

Now, I have at least one label-reading measuring stick to use – sugar content. According to Nutrition Action, If a food has little or no milk or fruit (which contain natural sugars), the “Sugars” number on the package’s Nutrition Facts panel will tell you how many grams of added sugars are in each serving. Divide the grams by 4 to get teaspoons of sugar.

Red River is a super-healthy breakfast option IF you can resist the sugar!

Red River is a super-healthy breakfast option IF you can resist the dried cranberries!

This morning, while my five-year-old poured herself a bowl of Honeycomb cereal (she is not joining Elissa and I on our week-long sugar-free challenge), I opted to make another one of my fave ‘geek cereals’ – Red River. If you’ve never had Red River, it’s a hot cereal – but it doesn’t really taste anything like Quaker. It’s much thicker and more substantial – full of cracked wheat, rye and flax. Additives = 0.

I was feeling really good about myself for avoiding the processed box cereal, till it hit me – I usually douse my Red River with a couple of big spoons of brown sugar. Ouch. How was I going to get around this one?

Since I am trying to get through an entire week without adding a sugar or sweetener to my food and drinks, I decided to add a small handful of dried cranberries and some sliced almonds to my cereal. Now I do realize that cranberries contain some added sugar – but I thought that it still must be better than adding spoonfuls of my own. How wrong I was!

It wasn’t until after lunch that I had the chance to do some quick research on the nutritional facts of dried, sweetened cranberries. As it turns out, just 1/4 cup of these babies packs 26 grams of sugar. Divide 26 by 4 and you’ve got 6.5 teaspoons. Guess what?? I just burned ALL of the daily recommended sugar content for a woman on breakfast.

Guess I should have stuck with my faithful friend, Raisin Bran!

2 responses to “Sugar-free Day #3: An epic breakfast fail!

  1. Heather says:

    This is a very interesting journey to watch. Thanks for sharing! Dried fruit may contain sugar, but it is also a good source of fiber! I’d say, you’re better off with a couple TBSP of dried fruit (and it’s naturally occuring sugar) vs. a couple TBSP of processed sugar! Red River and dried cranberries is a far superior choice to processed Raisin Bran! Keep on going! You are doing awesome!

    • Thanks Heather! I realize I am only scratching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to healthy eating; definitely the overall nutritional value of the food needs to be taken into consideration. For simplicity, I am sticking to sugar comparisons, but Red River would definitely tip the scales in many other ways! 🙂

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