By Tawnie Kroll | krollskorner.com
After Halloween, it seems as if the rest of the year goes by in a blink of an eye. The holidays approach us quickly and life can get in the way of our healthy food choices.
When we are running out the door and want to grab something quick, most of us tend to reach for a high fat/high calorie snack since it is easy. Even if you are running errands and want to buy something to curb your appetite it often is not a mindful or healthy food choice.
One of the easy, grab-and-go type snacks are energy bars. Many of us rely on these right? Looking at all the different options of protein bars and energy bars can get a little confusing. Here are some guidelines to pick out a healthy bar:
Read the ingredient list: Some energy bars are packed with such an exaggerated amount of sugar you might as well be eating a Twix Bar.
Look for bars that contain ingredients like dried fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Kind Bar and LaraBar are two examples of energy bars that are sweetened with real fruit instead of brown rice syrup or cane syrup.
Try to avoid the artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives: In excess some of these sugar alcohols can cause Gastrointestinal (GI) issues like bloating and gas.
Pick a bar that provides at least 4 grams of fiber and no more than 3 grams of saturated fat: Since many people pick bars to sustain them until the next meal, fiber is a critical nutrient. The bottom line about picking out a bar high in fiber is, it will keep you full longer.
It is recommended by the American Heart Association that we should limit the amount of saturated fat in our diet to less than 7 percent of our total calorie intake.
Find a balanced bar: How much protein should be in your energy bar? Try to look for 7 to 18 grams of protein.
Watching your carbohydrate intake? Limit the carbs in your protein bar to 15 to 30 grams. This type of a bar is a great mid-day balanced snack. You will notice some fruit and nut bars will tend to be lower in protein, but the healthy fats make the bar beneficial.
Calorie check: Some of those cookies and cream protein bars can pack in 350 to 400 calories. Be mindful of this. For women try to pick a bar between 150 to 200 calories and for men 200 to 250 calorie bars are appropriate.
Bottom line: These are just tips to picking out a “healthier” energy bar. I would not want to recommend having an energy bar for your snacks all of the time. You would be missing out on too many vitamins, nutrients and phytochemicals.
Here are some other energy sustaining snack ideas for you during the holidays:
1/4 cup mixed nuts with 1/2 ounce dried fruit
6 ounces yogurt topped with 2 Tablespoons natural granola or 1/2 cup fruit
Apple slices or 1/2 banana dipped in 2 Tablespoons of almond butter
3 cups popcorn tossed with 1 teaspoon olive oil
5 whole grain crackers with 1/4 cup hummus