One woman’s breakfast table wakeup call

This is a guest post written by Paige Engle, one of my coaching clients. When she told me this story about her daughter’s “healthy breakfast” and how it had become the wake up call that began her journey toward upgrading her family’s diet, I asked her to share it for the blog!

I love to see the connections and changes that my clients make so quickly when we begin to work together. Paige is doing a terrific job of paying attention to where she can make simple changes to continuously upgrade her family’s eating patterns. See if you can learn anything from this true story – and share your insights with me in comments or on Facebook!


I am not sure what triggered my concern for sugars in my daughter’s diet.  Maybe it was a magazine article or something on the news.  Anyway, I felt like I was already ahead of the game since my kids do not drink soda and almost never have juice boxes or juice other than orange juice (orange juice must be super healthy–right?).  Being very much the amateur at reading labels I decided to just see how much sugar my daughter was consuming at breakfast.  Her average breakfast was this:  1 blueberry Eggo waffle, 1 helping of strawberry yogurt, fresh fruit such as strawberries and cantaloupe, 8 ounce glass of Tropicana orange juice.  Seems okay, right?  Hey, it wasn’t donuts and a juice box!  Well, all other issues such as whole grains, fats, sodium aside, I was astounded by how much sugar was in her breakfast.  As I said, I can’t remember why I was fixated on the sugar part of it, but here is the breakdown:

1 blueberry waffle: 3 grams sugar
Medium helping of strawberry yogurt: 9 grams of sugar
Fresh fruit: didn’t know how to count this, but since plain fruit is super healthy let it go
8 oz orange juice:  22 grams of sugar (YIKES)

Total: 34 grams of sugar (not counting sugar from fresh fruit)

So, my poor daughter was starting her day on a sugar high!  The World Health Organization says an average 50 grams of sugar per day is okay for an adult male.  BUT the American Heart Association has a different opinion on the matter.  The AHA says for an average adult woman it should be 24 grams per day (an adult man 36 grams).  My daughter was almost at the adult male total of sugar grams per day and she had only eaten breakfast!  Did I mention she was only 4 years old?  So, what did I do?  I admit she still gets the waffle as it is easy for me to pop in the toaster in the morning.  The plain waffles have less sugar than the blueberry.  She gets healthier yogurt with way less sugar (any “fruit” flavored yogurt has way more sugar than plain or even most vanilla flavors). The fresh fruit is still there. The biggest culprit was the orange juice.  Who would have thought that?!?  Anyway, now I give her 1/4 the amount I used to and add some water to it to make it about a 4 ounce size and that is her orange juice for the day.  I rarely give her any more orange juice the rest of the day.  Would it be better if she had whole grain/high fiber toast with low sugar peanut butter?  Sure!  But she won’t eat that.  Someday–sigh.  Why can’t I just give her broccoli for breakfast . . . hey, that’s a great idea . . .why not?!?

In conclusion, I have been working with Cherylanne at Nourish to learn to read food labels.  Now I know I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  I am taking steps, however small they may be, to look at ALL things in the foods my family eats: whole grains, carbs, fiber, fats, sodium, protein, and, of course, sugars.  I feel good about it!!   Now, I would never claim to be anywhere near where Cherylanne is with nutrition, but I am moving in the right direction.  Plus Cherylanne has gotten me to a point where I get up and work out EVERY day.  Now that is a true feat!  Thanks Cherylanne.

– Paige Engle, Cincinnati, OH

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