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Portion distortion: Cereal

A bowl of cereal can be a great way to start the day. Choose a low-sugar, high-fibre cereal, add some trim milk and you’re getting a head start on your daily fibre and calcium intake, as well as filling up on long-lasting energy. But how much cereal are you eating at breakfast? And how does that relate to the nutrition information?

According to cereal packets, most serving sizes are around 30g-50g. Depending on the cereal, this can be between 1/3 cup and 1 cup. Muesli and granola tends to be heavier, while puffed or flaked grains are lighter.

Another thing that can affect how much cereal we eat is the size of our bowl. Studies have shown both the size of the bowl or plate we use and the size of packet we serve ourselves from could influence how much we eat, with larger bowls and packets leading us to eat more.

We put portion distortion to the test comparing the serving size stated on a box of Sanitarium Natural Muesli, Fruit & 5 Grains, with what we’d actually put in our breakfast bowl.

What the packet says

50g serving size (a scant half cup): 780kJ, 5.2g protein, 3.5g fat, 0.9g sat fat, 31.1g carbs, 10.5g sugar, 4.6g fibre, 28mg sodium

vs

What we put in our bowl

100g serving (one cup): 1560kJ, 10.3g protein, 6.9g fat, 1.8g sat fat, 62.6g carbs, 21g sugar, 9.1g fibre, 55mg sodium

We found it really interesting to weigh how much cereal we ate. It gave us some good information to measure exactly how much nutrition our breakfast gave us (before we added any milk, yoghurt or sugar).

Rather than automatically assuming we were eating what Sanitarium suggest is a ‘serving size’, we read the ‘per 100g’ nutrient information. That way we knew we’d had a good substantial breakfast rather than a light one. Which is, hopefully, what our stomachs told us anyway.

First published: Jun 2018



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