I teach the MAD COOL FITNESS HEALTHY SUPPORT seminar to my crew of girls in Harlem. The seminar focuses on what I call the three pillars of wellness: nutrition, exercise, behavior modification/stress management.

In reviewing wellness questionnaires that took a base line of where the girls (who are fully grown women by the way) currently are in these three areas, I noticed an interesting pattern forming in the nutrition section of the questionnaire: CEREAL ABUSE.

There, the dirty secret is out.

In general there were a lot of healthy eating habits. I’m proud to say that I’m proud of my girls. But one thing kept popping up which was the use of cereal as a snack and cereal for dinner!

Let’s briefly review the food groups. Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Proteins, Dairy, and Fats/Oils.

Let’s focus on grains as cereal falls into this category.  The recommended daily amount of all grains is 6 oz. equivalents for those getting less than 30 mins of activity a day. Obviously if you are running a marathon, you can have an extra rice cake or two but not as many as you might think! I also highly recommend eating your grain carbs early in the day (before 6pm) so that your body has time to burn them off. Activity levels fall off as we get closer to bed time and there your carbs will sit, first in your stomach and then on your hips.

A serving size can be a ½ a cup to a cup. Cereal inherently isn’t bad, except for the ridiculously sugary kind that is. The problem is we fill our bowls to the hilt so they are overflowing with Muesli and XYZ Honey Bunches of SUGAR and this sugar will turn into fat when not burned off. Simply put there is a huge disconnect between actual portion size and our perception of a portion. This is issue #1.

Issue #2 is cereal as a snack also leads to cereal abuse as cumulatively you’re simply eating too much of it. Even the whole grain, multi-grain kind. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I know. I used to do the same thing by overdoing it on Cheerios. A serving size is fine; multiple bowls a day, not-so-much.

It’s easy to engage in cereal abuse because eating cereal is well, easy. We all have busy lives. We’re on the go, are over-committed, and often leave our homes early in the morning and don’t return until late at night. And most of us aren’t running around with packs of skinless chicken breasts in our pocket. I know I’m not.

But consider this. Instead of being a serial, cereal abuse offender, pack Ziploc baggies of nuts and veggies. Pack fruits like apples (I buy pre-sliced apple packs because they are easy), nectarines, pears, strawberries, pretty much any fruit you like. These will help satisfy your sugar cravings, keep your blood sugar level and be compatible with your busy schedule.

STEP AWAY FROM THE CEREAL! Don’t be a repeat offender.

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By day, Jennifer Turner is a high-powered media executive.  By night, Ms. Turner is a self-proclaimed, “Fitness Activator.”  This is to say that her life’s mission is to empower others to “activate” their innate ability to have a healthy lifestyle and achieve happiness.

Visit to learn more about Jennifer and follow her team of fitness enthusiasts at Mad Cool Fitness.