Everyone seems to have a favorite energy bar, whether it be a Luna bar, Cliff bar, or Nature Valley crumbs-everywhere bar. They are a quick, easy and healthy choice...right?
Store-bought granola and energy bars are often packed with excess amounts of sugar and unnecessary oil. The second ingredient in many bars is cane syrup or dried cane syrup--which just means processed, refined sugar.
If you are not suffering the bouts of morning sickness, then pregnancy is the perfect time to consider healthy food options. There is always a way to make a healthier version of your favorite junk foods, comfort foods, or convenience foods. Oftentimes even morning sickness can be kept at bay by eating an opportune healthy snack between meals instead of going too long between meals.
When it comes to convenience foods, like granola bars, packaged salad kits, chips or anything you would grab at a grocery store in the middle of a hectic day or busy schedule, there is that element of convenience and sometimes it is okay to purchase those not-the-healthiest-but-not-the-unhealthiest foods. But going for the pure junk food option is a slippery slope when craving those extra carbs when you are pregnant and can quickly become a habit if we indulge every last craving with an unhealthy food choice.
Whenever you can, grab a banana, apple, some almonds, or veggies and hummus instead of the less nourishing choices that our brains and hands are self-trained to reach for. It’s all about changing habits. As you make changes in your diet and health, it will get easier and more satisfying the longer you work at it.
You might have heard the claim that “It takes 21 days to form a habit,” (originally introduced by Maxwell Maltz in the 1960s). It is a nice, neat number that is inspiring and believable. However, Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, conducted a study and found that it actually took anywhere from 18 to 254 days (about the time of your pregnancy!) for the study participants to develop a habit.
It might be discouraging to find that it could take over 8 months to form a habit -- but try not to get disheartened! Instead acknowledge this fact and use it to reassure yourself when you do slip up that it is perfectly normal for a new habit to not get set overnight. However, if you are 18-21 days down the path of healthier living and better food choices, then you are well on your way to a better habit for life. Lally also found that "missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process." So don’t worry if you slip up now and then, because you are still making progress and reinforcing those neural pathways in your brain! Forming healthy habits is not an all-or-nothing endeavor, so be patient with yourself and don’t give up.
The Oat Date n’ Nut Bars (recipe below) are an easy to make healthy snack bar that you can whip up for yourself ahead of time for the week. These bars are a much healthier choice than your standard granola or energy bar, and are also a fun, dessert-y option as well -- so you won’t even miss those sugary store-bought versions. These oat and nut bars are sweetened with dates which are a great source of fiber, energy, and potassium. There is no baking involved, which certainly adds a convenience factor. Whip up a batch and start to strengthen healthy habits as you enjoy the great flavor in these bars! Your body (especially your taste buds!) will thank you.
Oat Date 'n Nut Bars (makes 16 bars)
⅓ cup peanut butter
½ cup roasted salted sunflower seeds (shelled)
1 cup tightly packed chopped dates
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
2 tablespoons ground flax
Lightly grease an 8x8 pan with your preferred oil.
Process the sunflower seeds with the spices in a food processor. Add the dates, peanut butter, flax and 1 ½ cups of the oats. Keep processing until you achieve a soft dough. Pulse in the remaining ½ cup of oats.
Squish the dough into the pan, using the bottom of a large measuring cup to flatten if needed. Once you have shaped and flattened it, loosen the edges with a knife or fork and gently flip onto a cutting board lined with a sheet of parchment. Cut into 16 bars (or whatever size you like!) and wrap in foil or plastic wrap. Store in the fridge and grab whenever you need a convenient snack.
Nutrition Facts: (per bar)
Carbs: 35 grams
Fat: 6 grams
Protein: 4 grams
Fiber: 4 grams
All Original Content. Copyright Athena Byers 2015, All Rights Reserved.