Energy bars, granola bars, health bars, power bars, and the list goes on and on.
A variety of companies make such bars, and each one is called something different. Confused? We don’t blame you. This blog is intended to put a stop to the confusion and guide you to make a healthy snack choice, especially when it comes to snack bars.
Having an organized meal routine throughout the day is important for both children and adults. Balancing healthy and nutritious snacks not only helps us consume the recommended daily values of important nutrients, but also keeps us from becoming hungry to the point at which we may become vulnerable to overeat during our next meal. The key is to carefully and thoughtfully include snacks as part of our daily intake. I like to think of a “smart” snack as one that includes more than one food group. For example, a combination of protein and grains such as a yogurt with granola, or a vegetable with protein such as baby carrots dipped in Hummus. One of the difficulties I encounter with clients when it comes to snacks is the claim that they require advance planning and preparation. This makes choosing energy bars as a snack an “easy” alternative on hectic days. Every now and then, it is perfectly fine to choose an energy bar for a snack, but here is how to do it wisely:
Look for a type of bar that fits your needs:
This is especially important if you have a food allergy restriction, food intolerance, or a medical condition. Some bars may contain certain ingredients you may need to keep away from, and some are loaded with specific nutrients such as protein or carbohydrates to provide extra calories.
Read the label and understand the serving size:
Energy bars are often very caloric. The range of calories differs largely based on the manufacturer and on the intention of the product: a diet product or for example, one that is intended for an athlete. Calories can range anywhere from 60 calories to a few hundred calories in a single bar! In addition, some packages include two bars per package and some are single bars. If you read the label wrong you might end up consuming twice the amount of calories you intended.
Beware of the list of ingredients:
Often times, I find myself discussing the ingredients of prepared foods with clients and we come to the conclusion that one has to make the choice of which guidelines are important to follow. I jokingly say; “if we choose to avoid eating everything we will end up eating lettuce and lettuce only”. Try to choose an item with a list of ingredients as short as possible. Choose those that are natural, and you are familiar with. I often try to stick with the “10 ingredients or less” rule and find it very helpful.
It’s a world of snack bars choices out there. Follow these guidelines to make a healthier snack choice starting today, and don’t forget to pay attention to your needs when it comes to a snack. Ask yourself “What is it that I am need of right now?”, “What will satisfy me?” If here and there it’s a snack bar, then so be it.
Make the smart choice for you and enjoy!