Want Improved Health? – Nix the Energy Bars

December 30, 2009 in Antioxidants, Blog Recipes, Diabetic Menu Item, Foodland Chronicles, Mediterranean, Nutrition, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

Be sure to see Twenty Thoughts on Weight-related Goals. The thoughts are ideas on how to move toward sustainable life-style changes leading to improved health and fitness.

I didn’t write too much about eating real whole food. I know that those of you that read this blog on a regular basis, will not be surprised that I encourage you to resolve to eat far less processed food in the coming year. One of the big steps in the right direction is making a decision to eat real whole foods. If you look at your food records, and realize that you are choosing ‘energy bars’ instead of a meal, put the brakes on and change that habit. Some examples of energy bars are: Big 100, Nature Valley, Slim Fast Optima, Boost, Ensure, Balance Gold, Kashi Go Lean, PowerBar, and Special K Protein Meal Bar.

Why, you ask, do I suggest that you don’t choose convenient pre-measured bars of food? They are, all-too-often candy bars in disguise. Some are coated in chocolate. Some are coated in yogurt. Note: yogurt is not a hard substance, unless you’ve added a hard waxy substance. Yes, some have a hint of whole grain, fruit bits, and nuts; but you can buy good whole grains, fruits, nuts, and veggies without all the fat and sugar that these manufacturers include. The processed energy bars are more profitable for the food manufacturers because processing greatly increases shelf life, (especially when they saturate the fats with hydrogen) while whole foods are perishable, but it is much less profitable for you. You may already be paying big-time through chronic conditions and greater medical costs.

The downside of energy bars is that they are often loaded with saturated fat, food like substances and calorie-for-calorie are calorie-dense. Calorie-dense is just a way of saying that for a very small volume serving of food, you are getting quite a few calories. Why is that bad? Because, shortly after you eat the bars, you discover that you are hungry again.

There is no genuine substitute for real whole foods. To be optimally healthy, you need the large variety of phytonutrients that are found naturally in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Make your own energy foods, with healthy ingredients. Try Dr. Grandma’s Muffins Your Way.  For a small fraction of the calories, you can have 100% organic whole wheat, with real fruit that you put in. The muffin mix has only 80 calories per serving and is loaded with fiber and phytonutrients; if you add fruit or vegetables it’s only a few more calories for each muffin.

Or put nuts and dried fruit in little snack bags, making handy snacks without the processed ingredients. Or try making your own ‘trail mix,’ it doesn’t need to be stuck together by high fructose corn syrup or some other sugary substance. Skip those empty calories.

Surprise yourself, pack and eat a piece of real fruit. Try an experiment. Eat a whole large apple and see how long it takes you to be hungry in comparison with an energy bar. There are hundreds of nutrients that are naturally in the apple.

None of the energy bars have the number of phytonutrients that whole fruit or a whole-wheat muffin has.

When the food manufacturers add vitamins and minerals in their nutrient-depleted products, it is second rate to your own whole food.

Eating whole foods is a fairly easy way to decrease your calorie intake, while increasing your nutritional status.

Toasting your health in the New Year.

Fresh apple with cinnamon - no additives.

Fresh apple with cinnamon - no additives.

Fresh apple muffin recipe.

Moist, delicious, whole-wheat apple muffins

Moist, delicious, whole-wheat apple muffins

Morning Glory Muffins

Morning Glory Muffins

Carrots, apples, raisins, nuts and orange zest, make Morning Glory Muffins a great whole-wheat snack.