I used to be a cereal junkie – I would not only have cereal for breakfast, but I would often times have for lunch, an afternoon snack, a bedtime snack and sometimes, for supper. Okay, not all in the same day, though. I liked it because it was quick and easy and I thought, healthy. I was wrong. Sort of.
Sometimes, I would eat the good-for-you stuff like Cheerios, Wheaties, Shredded Wheat (yes, it was frosted!), Grape Nuts, Raisin Bran and such. And sometimes, I would eat the not-so-good stuff like Lucky Charms, Cap’N Crunch (the peanut butter variety), Cocoa Pebbles, Fruit Loops and more.
When I ate cereal, I would grab a bowl out of the cupboard – the one that came with our set of dishes, not some mongo bowl we bought separately because ours were too small and we wanted mongo-sized bowls. Nope, these were "thee bowls" that came with our set. Every time I poured the cereal, I never really paid attention to how much could actually fit in those mongo-sized bowls. I have one word: WOW!
Until yesterday. I was reading something on the Hungry Girl website about the serving sizes of different food items and I think cereal was mentioned, which made me think a little. (Yes, I do that from time to time.) Have you ever actually looked at what the serving size is for the cereal you’ve been eating? I was shocked. The ranges of serving sizes for the five boxes of cereal we have in our cupboard (my son and husband are still cereal junkies!) went from a half a cup to one cup, but the serving size most used was three-fourths of a cup. Yep, just a measly 3/4 cup. Really, who eats just three-fourths of a cup of cereal?
So, just for fun, I took out one of our mongo-sized bowls and poured a typical "Celeste-sized" amount of my son’s Lucky Charms into it. Then, I took the cereal and poured it into a giant-sized measuring cup. Giant-sized as in a glass, four-cup measuring device. Want to know how much was in that typical "Celeste-sized" bowl? You might be surprised.
First, I will tell you that I was shocked. I mean really, I thought our bowls were averaged-sized bowls. Like I said, they came with our set. But I guess looking back on it, we did go out and buy smaller – yes, I said, smaller – bowls because the ones we had were good for soup and such, but when we used to eat ice cream, we could go through a whole 1.5 quart container after serving up three bowls for my husband, my son and myself. So, yeah, I guess they are THAT big, which is good and bad I guess, depending on what you are eating. Ice cream, bad. Broccoli, good.
Anyway, the serving size on the box of Lucky Charms was three-fourths of a cup. 3/4 of a cup. The amount in the bowl? Three cups. Yes, 3 cups…….four times the serving size. FOUR! I seriously couldn’t believe it. A serving size – the 3/4 cup one – has 110 calories, 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of fiber. OK, the fat and fiber aren’t that bad, but take the calories and multiply that by four and it adds up. Especially, when sometimes, I wouldn’t eat just one bowl. Hmmm, no wonder I was at the store buying cereal what seemed like all the time. I really was buying it all the time. And no wonder I wasn’t ever losing weight.
After finding out how much was in the bowl, I immediately went to my Weight Watchers website and punched in a typical serving size – 3/4 cup – of Lucky Charms. It was only two points. Not bad, I thought. Then, I typed in three cups, which is the amount in the bowl, and it was 8.5 points. YIKES.
I honestly believe that cereal is one of those foods that people just eat and don’t even think about. I don’t think there are too many people out there who actually eat just one serving of their favorite brand. I mean, really, why would anyone eat just 3/4 cup of Lucky Charms. If I am going to eat cereal, I want enough to make it worth it. Come on, really? Three-fourths? I don’t think so. That’s like eating three bites, isn’t it?
Now, I should have mentioned I had no intentions of eating the cereal, I was just using it as an experiment. So, I poured it back into the box, closed it up tightly and put it back in the cupboard. My son will have no clue I tampered with his cereal!
After checking out the Lucky Charms, I decided to check into a few others. Here’s what I found. A serving size of Grape Nuts consists of 200 calories, 1 gram of fat and 7 grams of fiber. I used to eat Grape Nuts on a regular basis, not only because I thought it was uber healthy, but because I really loved the taste, especially when I would cut up a banana on it. A 1/2 cup serving has 3 WW points. I guarantee you that I never ate just a 1/2 cup portion. Two cups of Grapes Nuts, however, has 15.5 points and three cups, which I am sure I ate on more than one occasion, has a whopping 23.5 points. Seriously, and I used to eat it all the time. Thank goodness I don’t anymore.
Here’s some more: Wheaties – 3/4 cup = 1 point, 3 cups = 7.5 points; Cheerios – 1 cup = 2 points, 3 cups = 5.5 ponts; Cap’N Crunch, 3/4 cup = 2 points, 3 cups = 9 points; Frosted Shredded Wheat – 1 cup = 3 points, 3 cups = 10.5 points; Cocoa Pebbles – 3/4 = 2 points, 3 cups = 8.5 points and Raisin Bran, 1 cup = 3 points, 3 cups = 11 points.
So next time you reach for a box of cereal, just out the facts first and make sure your measuring cups are nearby or, just make sure you’re not using a mongo-sized bowl!
P.S. Check out the Confessions of a Fat Girl Facebook page and see what people have to say about the question I posted on cereal.