Sara here. I was just cruising through my morning RSS blog batch and one post in particular made me think about food (never a bad thing). A useful blog covering all manner of personal improvement topics, Ririan Project, had a very handy list of tips for revving up your energy, with the inclusion of “energy bars” on the list. Being the nutrition nerd that I am, I suggested that dried fruits and nuts were a healthier option than energy bars, as many energy bars are loaded with corn syrup, artificial ingredients and empty calories – not much different from a Babe Ruth or Snickers bar.
Here’s a Snickers bar ingredients list (click to zoom):
Now, that’s not really healthy. How about an energy bar? Great! Let’s go check out the ingredients in a Tiger’s Milk bar. Hmm. Well that’s depressing.
In the Bag
I like to keep baggies of snacks at the ready: broccoli florets, dried fruit and seeds, all the typical rabbit food. But perhaps we should reconsider the merits of snacking. I don’t have a gaggle of kidlets to chase after, so I’m rarely so busy that I miss a regular meal, and besides, one can always get something healthy from even the dustiest gas station (nutritive finery at the Arco: it is possible, sayeth Sisson).
We are a snacking nation, and health experts are quick to suggest smart on-the-go foods to substitute for all those French fries, Hershey bars and peanut M&M’s. But do we really need to find healthy snacks to stay alive, let alone healthy? Does the tank need to be sloshing full of fuel at all times to keep the machine humming? Children are a bit different from adults, of course. We’ve all seen what can happen when a tot goes too long without some calories (usually at such ideal locales as the movie theater, the airplane, the church service). Of course, this can even be a concern for some adults with fast metabolisms or blood sugar conditions – a friend of mine is so famous for her Speedy Gonzalez tummy, we all know that glint in her eyes and the question to ask: “How much time do I have?” At that point, get some snackery in the woman, or else.
But most Americans eat far too many calories, on average. Would it be so bad to actually have a growling stomach by the time dinner rolls around? Does anyone even remember what it feels like to conceal a gurgle in a meeting? (The cough-yawn-stretch requires finesse.)
Forget healthy snacks versus junk food. Why do we have vending machines, 100 calorie packs, protein bars? Short of hiking the Santa Monica “mountains” or running a marathon or getting stuck in the traffic to Vegas, I’m not sure I really “need” my at-the-ready arsenal of nutritious snacks. I just like them. I like eating.
Considering Mark’s Primal Health philosophy, I wonder if it might be good to be a little hungry now and then – or at least give your stomach time to reflect. Then again, we’ve been told constant grazing is healthy. Early humans didn’t gather round the campfire three times a day at regularly appointed hours, and Cave Mama certainly didn’t send the seedlings off to frolic with fruits and nuts lovingly wrapped in leaves. Or did she?
Hat tip: Comedian Ted Alexandro has pondered what is apparently a haunting fear of starvation – what else could explain this snackitis epidemic in America? Check him out if you’re into laughs (but note: adult humor).