Let’s play a game today.
Just so you can test yourself. Before you wreck yourself.
It’s one of my favorites. And if you’ve seen me speak before, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
All about those funny little food packets called bars.
So, welcome to The Bar Game.
Pictured: A snapshot from my most recent corporate talk this week. A handful of random bars, all swooped up from Whole Foods.
The test: Which one of these would I recommend to people?
SPOILER ALERT. If you want to guess and comment, scroll really really fast to the bottom. Because here are my answers:
Q: What would you (Sarah) pick as the best ones?
Why? They are all real food bars. Meaning they have very few ingredients and you can pronounce all of them, and all three are all made of natural, normal and whole food. So simple you could probably make them at home if you wanted to.
Next level down would be the Larabar Uberbar. Why? Because it also has real food ingredients. But a little extra sweetener (brown rice syrup).
The worst? All the rest. Yes, even the Zing Bar.
Yes, it says it’s created by nutritionists. But if you ever looked at the ingredient list, it’s got 3 different kinds of sugar and lots of stuff that you’d never be able to make in your own kitchen. Yet another lesson proving that the front of the label (the bragging, the claims, the little quips about how much great ______ vitamin or mineral or protein or fiber or whatever it has in it), DON’T MATTER. It’s marketing peeps. Not the truth. The truth is always on that hopefully little (and sometimes hidden) ingredient list.
Q: So, I can eat one of those every day?
A: You could. And that could be a great start if you’re eating one of the other brands that wouldn’t pass the “real food” test, or if you are tip toeing into this real food thing. But, for most people, no. Eating a bar everyday– even a real food bar– probably isn’t the best choice.
They’re not meant as a meal replacement and can sometimes be addicting to people. I know. I used to be full time bar addict myself back in my younger days, just because it was fast, I didn’t have to think about it, and I knew the right number of calories I was getting. Now, it’s so much different. Thank goodness. My body and energy and mood and everything else are so much better because of it.
Bars in general are naturally pretty sweet (can be addicting for sugar lovers) and are so easy to eat (no thought required). I love and use them as the perfect in-a-pinch food: in your car, purse, at your desk, while traveling, etc. But when you have the option between an actual meal (salad, soup, smoothie, etc), I’d always suggest doing actual real fresh food first. Eating nuts and dried fruit bars all day, or once a day, won’t fill you up, and you’ll miss out on a lot of other food categories that will sustain you better throughout the day. Like vegetables. Meat. Beans, lentils, eggs, etc. Or just a simple handful of nuts or 1-2 dates. It just depends where you are at.
Q: What would you suggest instead of a bar, but when you don’t have the time for a full meal?
A: Yes! I love this question. There are lots of good options when you’re short on time. My favorite ones are this: 1/2 avocado with sea salt and pepper, or curry powder or paprika. Organic turkey slices dipped in hummus or mustard. Or just a scoop of hummus. Sorry if you think that’s gross. Jicama or radishes or other veggies. Smoked salmon. Kale chips. Garbanzo bean crunchies. And if none of those things sound good to you, than you’re probably not hungry and something else is going on for you mentally or emotionally.
Q: A lot of those healthy bars have a lot of sugar and calories though!
A: Honestly, the calories and nutrition facts tell such a TINY bit of the whole story in how you process and digest your food, I ignore them. Straight up. Never even look at them. It’s more important to me that my body could understand all the ingredients to digest and run better on real food, than any of those diet mentality thoughts. I spent way too many years thinking I was being healthy and following all of those diet rules. And had nothing to show for it.
Now, ignoring all of it, I’ve never been healthier looks wise or mentally or physically speaking. Life is just more free and light without all of that. It’s all about the quality of the food, your enjoyment and awareness of it, and having a much healthier relationship to it overall. None of which happen when you’re fixated on calories, carbs, sugars, fats, and obsessive nutrition-fact-label-reading. If you’re still doing that, there’s a better way. Promise.
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