An ingredient by any other name…
Ok. Trying to be funny and poetic. Maybe I shouldn’t try that on a Monday. So I know that people think of clean eating as totally made from scratch, organic, nothing packaged, etc. Well…that’s not me. That’s why I call it cleanER eating. I like convenience…in it’s healthier forms, of course. No fast food here. But, I do like to make good choices easier on myself.
That’s where snack bars come into play. Love ’em! So easy to just grab an go. I always have one with me. If you look in my purse and you don’t find one…it’s probably because I just ate it! 🙂 There is a lot of confusion with all of this though. Walk down this particular aisle in the store and wow…talk about overwhelming! Unfortunately it’s so easy to get sucked into the buzz words too! “natural” “organic” “gluten-free” “healthy”…you name it. (Ya’all know those words don’t necessarily mean that’s what you’re getting…right? *please say yes*)
To hopefully make this a little easier for you, here are some things I pay attention to when I shop for bars…
- Ingredients list
This is the main overarching thing to pay attention to! Please don’t just look at the nutrition info that tells you how much protein, fat, carbs, etc. Although these things are important, it’s MORE IMPORTANT to know where those nutrients come from! What kind of protein is it? Are there a bunch of fillers in it? Is it full of artificial ingredients? Pay attention to the ingredients list!
Sugar likes to disguise itself in many different forms. Especially these days with all the buzz words, it can be easy to be fooled. Don’t fall prey! Even if it’s slightly on the “healthier” side, your body still processes it much like regular white sugar. Here’s a list of SOME ingredients that are just sugar with a different twist (there are plenty more out there!):
- Agave Nectar
- Barley Malt Syrup
- Beet Sugar
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Brown Sugar
- Cane Crystals (or, even better, “cane juice crystals”)
- Cane Sugar
- Coconut Sugar, or Coconut Palm Sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
- Dehydrated Cane Juice
- Evaporated Cane Juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Palm Sugar
- Raw sugar
- Rice Syrup
- Sorghum or sorghum syrup
- Turbinado Sugar
I am not going to go into a lot of detail here with soy. A lot of it is really still being researched and figured out. Personally, I allow myself soy here and there (I do love it in my coffee if I go out for coffee…so creamy, I will say!)…but that’s only on occasion, as a treat. Otherwise I make sure ingredients in things I buy don’t contain soy & I don’t use soy milk at home. Soy is heavily used as a filler in processed foods and it’s getting easier and easier to find packaged foods that don’t contain it (that’s the good news!). There’s too much grey area and evidence that is surfacing as to how soy could negatively impact hormones. Lord knows we don’t need more of that going on! *yikes*
Essentially you want to watch out for long, complicated words that are super difficult to pronounce. If you buy something that is a natural product, you will likely find some superfoods and such listed that are hard to pronounce, but it’s far different than the “chemically” sounding words you will find preservatives listed as. How do you know?? See my next point!
- Google it!
If I see something listed I am unfamiliar with and unsure about…I look it up. Easy peasy. The cool thing is, you start getting to know which has what in it and it’s no longer confusing.
There are some good bars out there and I am seeing more and more of them as consumers dictate that kind of demand. Larabars are an awesome example of this! You look on the ingredients list and all you see are nuts and fruits listed for most of the bars. That’s. All. Simple. Look for simple.
Speaking of simple, I’m going to end here! We can get super detailed about this…but that’s for another show 🙂 For now stick to getting familiar with ingredients.
Here’s some homework for you (yay!!): open your cupboard and fridge/freezer and take 5 boxes/packages out. Go through each one and familiarize yourself with at least 5 of the ingredients you find that you are not familiar with. I would LOVE to hear what you run across! What surprised you? Are there any things in your cupboard you will no longer buy? How about things that are healthier than you thought?