WIAW: Real food versus protein bars

Hello, hello, hello. Welcome, welcome, welcome. Is it that late already? I always forget about the time.

Are you confused? I know I would be and very much was after the theatre play I saw on Monday. That’s where the above lines come from though they probably were the easiest understandable part of the whole story. No theatre review here, though, but some much easier comprehensive food talk featuring some of Monday’s meals.  Thanks to Jenn and Laura for hosting today’s What I ate Wednesday shenanigans!

WIAW_new2015

By now you should know I’m not the person for average breakfasts. Most mornings, I don’t like breakfast at all because I hardly ever know what I want to eat. Yet skipping is no option. Luckily, Monday was rushed so I ran a few errands and then quickly packed breakfast/first lunch (?) to-go as I just got note there was a teaching assignment for me that early afternoon. Polenta had been absent from my diet for months – shockingly and not okay – so its quick preparation turned it into my breakfast savior along with Brussels sprouts, tomatoes and chickpeas, all seasoned with my favourite organic curry blend. If you haven’t tried microwaving polenta yet you’re missing out. It’s the most fuss-free/no-second-pot needed/less clean-up prep method ever.

Polenta_breakfast_tupper

 

Lunch was a two-part story as we were heading out in the afternoon shortly after I came home from teaching German. The first part was a repeat of breakfast – did I mention a slight obsession with polenta? – but as I didn’t take a picture again here’s yesterday’s candlelight lunch instead. Yes, lunch and yes, already dark. The weather hasn’t been treating us kindly this week so far. Anyway, polenta with thyme-y mushroom chickpea tomato stew was on the menu. When I like something, I really like it so polenta might very well stick around for a while.

Polenta_mushrooms

So … part two: my first ever whole Quest bar. Not my first ever Quest bar but the first I actually ate as a whole in one day. Here’s what I didn’t mention in my post a while ago. For me, Quest bars or any kind of protein bar actually aren’t safe foods hindering recovery. Eating them as opposed to real treats like chocolate that I have every day is the challenge.

I was glad to get lucky in receiving these Quest bars as it gave me two boxes of challenges. Because you might be wondering: I liked the S’mores flavor. I’ve never had an actual S’more before meaning no expectations could be met or disappointed. The con for me is that the bar overall is very sticky-sweet. Pros are the chocolate pieces [are you surprised in any way?] and what I guess are supposed to mimic graham crackers plus the cinnamony taste. More interesting for me, though, was the saturation factor. Protein is believed to be that super macro filling you up like no other after all. I was doubtful if I bar could deliver this.

Quest bar_protein_s'mores

Verdict? I was positively surprised but not overly impressed in this point. Not overly impressed because I didn’t feel full the same way I do with protein from real food sources. Positively surprised hours later when we returned home and I didn’t crave the Greek yogurt that usually acts as part of my night snack. That’s my interest in macros: I don’t prefer a certain one but will keep experimenting to see how I react to them. Neither carbs, nor fat or protein are inherently good or bad to me. In relearning to trust my intuition. I see them all as equal and try to find my happy balance. At the moment, I tend to need a little extra protein with my meals but I opt for real foods like legues, cottage cheese and above-mentioned Greek yogurt to fill the void.

As we were out and about the remainder of my meals escaped the camera or were eaten before I remembered to get it out. Life > taking pictures. Not like I wasn’t curious about everybody else’s meals, though …

Enjoy your Wednesday and eat some good food!

 

Happiness-inducing today:Editing yet another text. What can I say? It’s my element.

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I’m really curious: Do you find protein or Quest bars in specific  filling?

Have you noticed yourself gping through phases of needing more of a certain macros [even iff – like me – you don’t track them]?


Are protein bars actually fuelling your recovery?

Protein ice cream. Protein bars. Protein Bread. Protein Pasta. You name it – there’s a protein version for it out there*.

*Note that I am not saying any of these products were inherently bad, that people shouldn’t eat or I’d never buy them out of curiosity. The focus of my thoughts here is a different one as you’ll see in a minute.

While I’d been aware of the high popularity of a certain brand of protein bars – okay, Quest bars – among bloggers for a long time it wasn’t until I joined Instagram that I noticed a pattern. The seemingly biggest group consuming said bars, shakes and other protein cookies/puddings/ice creams? Not the body builders or figure competitors the companies probably created them for in the first place. No, people recovering from eating disorders. People whose intention [or at least this would be my assumption and personal goal] is to re-learn a normal and intuitive eating behavior. Call me quick to judge but I see protein treats as a potential barrier on the recovery road. Allow me to elaborate.

Carbs? Scary. Fat? Potentially scary, too. Protein? The least scary macronutrient ever to anybody in the #fitfam and people in recovery. But: recovery should be scary. It should mean challenging yourself and facing fears. Having a protein treat rather than a real one deserves the hashtag #cheatclean, yes. Because you’re cheating yourself by sticking to a ‘clean’, non-scary lifestyle. It’s like bargaining with your ED: Fine, you’ll eat more but you make sure it comes from the presumed ‘healthiest’ source of calories – protein. And yes, you might gain the much needed weight. But you might slow down your recovery process and probably won’t loose the fear towards certain foods [sugar, white flour, …].

Quest bar_s'mores_protein

If you’re thriving on a high-protein diet that’s cool. I’m not telling anybody to drop the protein bar and I will openly say I’m curious to try some interesting protein treats, too [see picture above; explanation to follow in my next post]. Yet for me this is merely curiosity and not the belief I’d need to monitor or manage my macros.I know what works for me and also that different people have different needs. I might be off here. There’s always time for diet experimentation but when protein bars or shakes are considered meal replacements, people apparently skimp on the carbs even at family gatherings or special occasions I do wonder about the reasoning. It could be because I – as somebody with a history of [and still in recovery from] an eating disorder – am more sensitive towards these things.

If you declare a protein cookie to taste ‘just like grandma’s’ than I assume/hope you do eat the latter on occasion, too. Or do you bring your own protein treats to family gatherings [and potentially offend grandma]? Recovery is about getting back a life you will be able to sustain in the long term. Is it realistic to find protein versions of all the foods people around you eat in every setting in your life? What about holidays in different countries? Traveling for work? Or simply living in a place that doesn’t offer easy availabilty of high-protein treats like Quest bars, Complete Cookies and what not all? At least from my experiences it doesn’t seem like an easily sustainable lifrstyle plus we don’t actually need all that much protein and can cover our needs eating real foods but that just as an aside.

Mint chocolate

The moral of the story? Like any other food [and what every package of supplements tells you] protein bars can be part of a balanced diet. Just make sure you’re not using them to replace real and/or fear foods. No choices in our lives should come from a place of fear. If you want a protein bar because you really enjoy the taste – go for it. Grandma’s cookies or that bar of chocolate? Same.

Happiness-inducing today: Talking to a friend on the phone while out on a walk. If we can’t walk outside together this is a good compromise.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

No questions but I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the topic.