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How To Fit Healthy Packaged Foods Into A Real Foods Diet


Yesterday was one of those days I’m glad I’m recording my food… let me explain… I woke up and decided a UCAN bar (What the Heck is Generation UCAN?) sounded like a good idea before my run and it was.

ucan snack bar

The run went okay, except for the pup was more ownrey than usual, back to biting the leash and jumping like she is the new tigger (anyone else have this problem when the run with the pup?). Between her craziness and my tired legs from Monday we were a bit slow for a four mile run.  I always feel so fortunate to be out there running though, any run is a good run in my book.

Then I was on a mission to get some things done out of the house so I grabbed a Fuel for Fire (Chocolate Banana) and took off.  I’m surprised there is any left the way Mr. Hungry has been downing them.  I also ate a spoonful of peanut butter, not pictured.


Lunch came later than usual, but it was finally time for some wholesome good food.  Leftover Salmon, cranberry goat cheese salad.


Then I waited waited waited till right before going to teach to dig into one of the pumpkin Quest Bars, I bought a million of because who ever heard of Quest Bars being 1.50????? I totally lucked out, the cashier said they must have just gone to the clearance rack, SCORE!


The Quest Bar was delicious but I definitely hit my limit on processed food (even though it’s healthier), shortly after I felt super bloated and just kind of gross (I’m usually find with Quest Bars).  I felt that way through the night and even when I woke up this morning.  Even though I know I had a salad I just really went overboard with the healthy processed food.  After leaving Life Time, I swore I never wanted to see another Quest bar again (clearly lying to myself) because I ate so many during my long shifts.  I think it would have been fine if I hadn’t found the massive sale!  I felt a little sick so I had some brown rice crackers before leaving to teach.When I got home I made a big bowl of veggies which felt way better.  (Not pictured) Then I ate some healthy cookies, which I need to get to photographing before they are all gone (not to mention this is the second batch!) I can not be stopped!


I also made and snacked on energy bites intended to be for Mr. Hungry’s breakfast before I worked on this post and studied for my group fitness cert this weekend.  So not ready for that yet, better get on it!

A Few Thoughts On Balancing Healthy Packaged Foods with “Real Food”:

I like to think of myself as a REAL FOOD Dietitian, but I don’t often call myself that because who gets to decide what is real food?  Do egg whites from a box count, what about bread, or homemade goods…  those are sticky questions!  The foods that make me feel the healthiest, fullest, and most full of energy are generally foods that have minimal processing and little additives.  We live in a busy world, and sometimes we chose convenience items, whether homemade or purchased that’s okay!  The foods that come in packages that I chose to consume and recommend are foods I believe to have real nutrition value.  That being said, on most days I coach myself and my clients to follow a few guidelines to prevent reliance on them:

1.  Save them for when traveling or on the go, ask myself “Do I need this or just want it, is there something less processedI could throw together under 5 minutes?

2.  Use for necessary fuel or refuel (I could have had real food both pre and post run but I didn’t)—> to me UCAN is a necessary pre run fuel, but I usually save the bars for long runs. Post workout protein can be convenience  (like a protein shake) or real food.

3.  Limit to one per day in favor of real food!

4.  Pay attention to how you feel after directly consuming it or throughout the day.

5.  Use as a healthier substitute for a dessert or treat.  (Quest bars are my favorite high protein dessert replacement! )

So that’s why I’m glad I’m recording meals, it offers a really great feedback mechanism to make improvements! Am I going to beat myself up about having a day where I definitely could have relied less on packaged food?  Nope! I just get started at the very next meal!

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