Sunday, April 14, 2013

Is It a Dessert or Not

The other day, I was at Costco looking to get some granola bars to fill in the gaps, but my typical fare was crowded out by a wall of protein bars and snack bars. I checked the ingredients on each one and they all failed to actually be healthy. It's like each one is trying to play whack-a-mole with macronutrients. First, you have your basic candy bar like Quaker Chewy: all sugar and fat with not much protein. Then you have your 'diet" bars that are zero carb but have a ton of artificial sweeteners and fat to make them pliable. (Nonnutritive food softeners never feel quite right.) And finally, the king of the snack bar aisle, protein bars featuring a whopping 20g of protein. These bars are terrible. They're sawdusty/mealy because of all the soy protein a they're loaded with sugars and fats to make them palatable.

Ultimately the problem with these bars, and more generally with all diet food, is that they're trying to make you think you're being healthy when in actuality you're eating dessert. Protein bars are not healthy; they're a bad tasting dessert. Quaker Chewy's aren't a "snack" they're a mediocre dessert. Next time you're at the store, check the label. If they've added sugar, or sugar substitutes, or magical sweeteners like stevia, then it is a dessert and should be treated as such. (Personally, I count white flour as dessert too.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to not eat dessert. I'm saying that you shouldn't pretend things aren't dessert when they really are. Lying to yourself (or believing marketing lies) is why most diets fail. If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Just stick with the same basic diet advice that as been around since before it was even called a diet. Eat mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds with a side fish/meat/eggs/dairy. Then, when you're done (always at the end of a meal), have a real dessert like chocolate, or ice cream, or something from the bakery. Just be sure to enjoy it.