I was asked to evaluate a Cliff Bar according to my label reading guidelines and it failed on several accounts. In response to that, I received the following question.
Q. If I’m cutting out Clif bars,then what? I need a recommendation for a healthy meal replacement – something that will do for breakfast on the run for the high schoolers and for lunch for me – something that can be tucked in a jacket pocket and eaten on the stairs between classes or meetings. the biggest problem with stuff like dried fruit is it takes too long to eat! and since it’s got to do for a complete meal, wouldn’t it get unbalanced after a while? what’s your take?
A: When I was in graduate school, I was a single parent of a young teenage girl, and had a full time school schedule and a full time internship. Time was a scarce commodity. But, by planning ahead, my daughter and I were able to always have healthy food and healthy meals. We never had to compromise.
So, let me address your specific comments…
>>> I need a recommendation for a healthy meal replacement….. what’s your take?
My first recommendation is I don’t recommend meal replacements. They never provide the same amount of nutrition as a real meal.
In addition, if I was to lay out all my guidelines for healthy nutrition/food and you turned them all upside down and used the upside down guidelines to invent a food, you would have a meal replacement. Whether it be a powder, drink or a bar, they all embody the exact opposite of what i recommend. They are all usually very high in calorie density, usually fairly high in sugars, sometimes high in fats (and sometimes the unhealthy fats), low in fibers, low in satiety, and low in overall nutrient density.
>>> something that will do for breakfast on the run for the high schoolers and for lunch for me -
I really recommend that people take the few minutes to sit down and enjoy a meal if they are going to have one, especially together as a family, if possible. And, especially that we teach children, whether they are young of high school age, the importance of eating real food and real meals and not “replacements”. After all, there is no replacement for our health.
There are many healthy meals you can make in just minutes that I just do not want to recommend that someone not do that. In addition, the few minutes it takes to prepare the meal, will have numerous health benefits.
>>> something that can be tucked in a jacket pocket and eaten on the stairs between classes or meetings. the biggest problem with stuff like dried fruit is it takes too long to eat!
It sounds like you are looking for a magic bullet of which I know none. In our fast paced crazy world it is understandable though why people want these magic bullets, they just don’t exist.
Remember, eating and the process of chewing is part of digestion and good health. Chewing helps break food down and release certain enzymes and also helps exercise our facial muscles. It is a good thing to take the time to eat and to eat food that requires time and chewing.
>>> and since it’s got to do for a complete meal, wouldn’t it get unbalanced after a while?
If you choose healthy food, than healthy food is “balanced” and you don’t have to worry. These concepts of incomplete and unbalanced are really based on myths or typical refined and processed food diets. When you eat an intact whole food, plant based diet, than all the foods and meals are complete and balanced. If you are worried about eating meals that are complete and balanced, the last think you should be thinking of is a meal replacement.
Having said all that, if I was on the run and wanted to grab something quickly, I would either grab a piece of fruit or two, or grab some leftovers of some healthy food I had prepared at an earlier time. This is why I always keep healthy food around and with me wherever I am. Whenever I cook anything, I always make lots of extra and keep some in the refrigerator and some in the freezer.
I have to help plan for my success and not my failure. I can’t think of anything more important.