A nutritionist responds.
Credit: Dean Belcher

You may have seen a certain story going around wherein a nutritionist tells the world something that sounds truly shocking: Pizza is a healthier breakfast than your go-to box of cereal. Sorry to be a killjoy, but that’s just dead wrong.

Now, I’m all for pizza for breakfast. (I’m even for making breakfast pizza.) And I’m a huge proponent of that old adage, “everything in moderation.”

But just because pizza can be a healthy choice (at breakfast, or whenever), that doesn’t make cereal an unhealthy one.

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Cereal has a very real, much-needed place in our diets. And, let’s be clear, it is not “nutritionally bleak.” People who eat cereal get more nutrients like calcium, B vitamins, iron, vitamins A and D, zinc, and fiber.

They also get more whole grains than cereal abstainers. In fact, ready-to-eat cereal is our top source of whole grains at breakfast. Miss these nutrients and whole grains at breakfast, and it’s not very likely you’ll make up for it later in the day.

And—drum roll!—cereal eaters tend to have better diets overall and be healthier than their non-cereal-eating counterparts.

Now circling back to pizza. I put the emphasis on how pizza can be a healthy choice, because not every slice is winning nutrition awards.

In fact, pizza is the second largest source of sodium in our diets (behind bread and rolls). It’s also the second biggest source of saturated fat in our diets (behind cheese, which is a pizza ingredient).

A single triangle of one chain’s pepperoni and sausage mounded over a white crust? It delivers 200 calories, 18% of your daily value for saturated fat, and a mere gram of fiber.

Can you make it healthier? Of course! Throw on some veggies, dial back on the meat and cheese a little, and trade your white dough for whole wheat and—bravo—you’re getting fiber from those veggies and that crust, every ingredient from top to bottom is delivering important nutrients.

One final, valuable, note: one food, or even a meal, won't make or break you health-wise. What matters ultimately is that your day, or week, or month, even, of eating is balanced and you’re making an effort to provide your body with the nutrients it needs.

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So, if you want to indulge—go ahead, eat a slice of pizza for breakfast. And maybe have a bowl of cereal for dinner, or your favorite sugary-sweet cereal as dessert. Every once in a while won't hurt.