Cereal killer: how cereal serving sizes really measure up – and why bowl size can matter most
Part of the obesity crisis can be blamed on over inflated portion sizes. And for many of us, this starts early in the day when we open the cereal box and start to pour.
Breakfast cereals feature in around 60% of breakfasts – but a lot of us are simply eating far too much.
The serving sizes on cereal packets seem to resemble fantasy more than truth. On average, the recommended portion is 40g – yet when you tip this amount into a bowl, it can look a bit sparse.
I’ve always told people who didn’t know about the portions they were eating to go and try the cereal test. It’s a simple experiment – Pour a 40g portion of 3 popular breakfast cereals. Pretty much everyone serves themselves way too much:
- Muesli – 91% of people overestimated
- Sultana Bran – 65% overestimated
- Cheerios – 33% overestimated
We always seem to eat with our eyes, relying on visual cues – people pay more attention to the proportion of the bowl filled rather than the actual amount of cereal in it.
The habit of using a visual clue for eating, rather than being conscious of satiety – state of over indulgence – is a tough one to break. The simplest solution is to swap to a smaller bowl and always weigh out your cereal.
Breakfast gives the body fuel after an overnight fast – skip breakfast and you’re effectively running on empty. You’re far more likely to reach for high sugar mid-morning snacks, so a bowl of cereal can be a good start to your day – just be aware of how much you’re eating, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.