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Be a Cereal Stalker

New York UniversityJulie DeardorffYale University

Before your next stroll down the cereal aisle, try the following strategies:

Watch the sugar. Look for cereals with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving and beware of code names such as honey, cane juice and high-fructose corn syrup. It helps to know that 4 grams of sugar equal 1 teaspoon.

Call it "dessert." It's best to think of kids' cereals as non-fat cookies," says NYU nutrition professor Marion Nestle. "Is that what kids really should be eating for anything other than dessert?"

Less is usually more. Look for a cereal with very few ingredients and at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Fiber is what gives cereal its staying power. If your cereal tastes like air, you'll probably eat more of it.

Visualize. Pour a single serving of cereal - generally 3/4 cup - into a measuring cup. If you routinely eat more than this, remember it means additional calories, sugar and sodium.

Mix it up. Combine low-sugar cereal with a familiar, pre-sweetened brand, then gradually reduce the amount of the sugary kind. Or add dried or fresh fruit to low-sugar cereal.

Don't assume. Children will eat healthier cereals if they aren't tempted with presweetened options, research from Yale University has found. Even when kids were allowed to add sugar to a healthy cereal, they consumed less sugar than they would with a sweetened cereal.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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