Don’t Always Believe What You First Read!

Looks aren’t the only things that can be deceiving!

On my last major shopping trip at the grocery store, which I do about once a month to gather all of the basics to restock the pantry, I picked up my normal go-to cereal of frosted mini wheats and continued my stroll down the row. As I looked over all of the many different choices of cereals today, I shook my head, thankful that I wasn’t a mom trying to shop for my kids and their pull towards the sugary cereals or the ones with the latest animation or blockbuster movie character on them. Nearing the end of that aisle, I came up to a particular brand’s section and noticed they were running a great sale on their products. Being ever so wise to jump on opportunities to save money, I put my mini wheats back on the shelf and reached for something different; a cereal I hadn’t tried before, but that sounded like it would provide me with the same kind of low fat, high fiber breakfast I was looking for.

Yeah, I was trying to be good. I always convince myself that if I buy plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with other low fat, low sugar, and high fiber foods as the majority of my shopping, then I can make the excuse to indulge in one “goodie” on that trip. When I shop Walmart, that goodie is always a bag of Indiana kettlecorn popcorn! But I was at a grocery store that didn’t carry that, and hadn’t made up my mind what little treat I might pick up for myself.

But then…I saw it! That pretty blue box of goodness I remembered and loved so much from my childhood.

photo 2Oh decisions, decisions…Should I stick with the “smart” choice; after all, it promoted the whole grain goodness and fiber that I wanted. Or should I indulge for just this one time (how many of us haven’t said that in justification, more than a few times?). They were both on sale, so money being equal, and desire growing stronger, I decided that the best way to talk myself out of it was to look at the breakdown of the nutritional information on each box.

Yes. That will help to being me back down to earth and talk some sense in me, I thought. I’ll just take the two boxes and put them side by side, and see with my own eyes why choose Kellogg’s Smart Start was going to be a much better choice than to give in the the extra sugar and calories of the Frosted Flakes cereal. It’s always harder to justify a purchase when you can see in print all of the extra calories, sugar, sodium, fat grams — whatever you’re trying to watch — right there in ink on the side of the box. I knew the answer already. I mean, one was whole grain, fiber loaded cereal, and the other made no bones about being sweetened (frosted) corn flakes. But until I could just see it; read it for myself, then I knew I could convince myself to put the blue box down and move on. After all, there was much more shopping to be done!

And there it was. Right there spelled out, ounce for ounce, serving size for serving size, sugar, fat, calories. My reason for walking away. But, but wait a minute! What am I reading?!

photo 3My Frosted Flakes had fewer calories than the Smart Start! What? Okay, sure, Frosted Flakes’ serving size was 3/4 cup and the Smart Start was a full cup. But they were both wrong! Who eats only a cup of cereal? Seriously, when’s the last time when you weren’t on a diet, that you measured your cereal? Most of us pour; and we typically end up with about a cup in a half. So sure I was taking in 220 calories for 1 1/2 cups of FF, but with Smart Start being 190 calories for a cup, that meant the same 1 1/2 cups for SS would be 285!

But even I know you can’t just look at the caloric intake, so I went to the fat grams. One gram for SS wasn’t bad; even if the FF was zero. But the sugar is what caught me by surprise. Only 11 grams for the FF (22g for the 1 1/2 cups) but practically as much sugar in the SS at 14 grams (or 21g for 1 1/2 cups). That wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that looking at the face of the packaging, and the name of the cereal, who would think that it would contain THAT much sugar?

Of course, the Smart Start DID have a higher fiber content, and plenty of vitamins — but hey, that’s what my One-a-Day is for! Needless to say, I was a little disappointed that I had initially allowed myself to be tricked, just by the wording and packaging of one product over another. Because for the things I like to look out for, as far as my own nutritional needs versus dietary concerns (fat, sugar, sodium, and yes, fiber), it turns out the Frosted Flakes wasn’t such a “bad” thing for me after all.

At the end of the on-site quickie research, I ended up buying them both, and am alternating between the two for breakfast. But as a reminder to us all, don’t always believe what you first read; read on and make sure it’s really all that you thought (or didn’t think) it would be!

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