Snap, Crackle And What?: Our Special Report Shows You How To Find Healthy Choices in Breakfast Food Aisle

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 25, 2013 Updated Nov 26, 2013 at 6:42 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21ALIVE) --- Most of us try to make smart decisions about our health these days.

But it's not always easy.

There's plenty of temptation around, especially down that grocery aisle where you find literally hundreds of breakfast food choices.

In a special report entitled, “Snap, crackle and what?”, we solicited the help of a nutritionist to try to make sense of what's healthy, and maybe not so much.

Pop tarts, oatmeal, and dozens of brands of cereal occupy shelves in the supermarket cereal aisle.

It doesn't take long to realize that if healthy is what you seek, you've got to do some investigating to be a smart shopper.

At the Kroger Marketplace store at Dupont and Coldwater, we stumbled onto Andrea Houghtaling, who says she buys two kinds of cereal--good stuff for her kids, good tasting stuff for their dad.

" I figure my husband is an adult and if he wants to eat that crap, that's his choice. But as long as I have control over what these two are eating, then they get multi-grain Cheerios," said Houghtaling.

"It's got six grams of sugar."

"Okay, that's not too bad."

That was part of a conversation we picked up between Doug Fisher and a friend, as they checked out cereal box nutrition labels.

Fisher says he reads the labels, steering clear of the most sugary cereals.

We asked him what he thinks about bran flakes.

" I don't really get those too much. Doesn't really taste that great,” he laughed. You know, at least the Raisin Bran has some sugar to it. I need a little bit."

Parkview registered dietician Kathy Wehrle joined us as we went shopping in the breakfast food aisle, sorting out fact from fiction in deciding what should go in our cart.

The overarching theme; up with 100 percent whole grains, down with added sugar.

Wehrle says the nutrition label on a good option will have 5 to 6 grams of fiber and about 5 to 6 grams of sugar.

A box of Fruity Pebbles we inspected has 0 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, not the kind of numbers that are reassuring to Wehrle.

Remember Doug and his Raisin Bran?

Does Wehrle think that is a healthy choice?

" What we want with an added fruit is less than 16 grams of sugar. Raisin Bran actually has 20. Raisin Bran today is actually...they tout it that they have so many raisins, that it's almost too many raisins really," Wehrle said.

Some of her keepers-- All Bran, Shredded Wheat, Cheerios, Old Fashioned Oats, and 7-Grain Hot Cereal.

The choices are almost endless.

The Kroger Marketplace store now features the Nature's Market aisle, an area that offers more healthy choices, and Kroger says it's growing in popularity.

District Manager Chris Gomez says shelf labels there assist customers by drawing attention to things like Gluten-free products.

" We're listening to our customers all the time, and there is a trend that folks want to eat more healthy. They don't want all the sugars," Gomez said.

But stripping those sugars out of your diet is a challenge, especially when your kids have had a taste of it, and clamor for it time and again.

Wehrle insists we can push back and resist the temptation.

" If we just gradually wean off such sugary things and sweet things, gradually our taste buds will adapt and we'll really come to enjoy the natural sweetness that would be in a piece of fruit, for example."

" He eats cereal for breakfast, but I don't think he's ever had sugary cereal. It's dad's cereal, and he doesn't get to eat it," said Houghtaling, who hopes her son and other child grow up not craving sugary cereals and other products sporting lots of sugar.

Nutrition labels can really help shoppers, but you have to know what to look for.

Check the label and turn away from products with high fructose corn syrup, artificial colorings and dyes, and artificial sweeteners.

That information can be hidden in the ingredient listing, so be ready to do your homework.

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