Published On: Tue, Sep 18th, 2012

Making A Big Fuss About Breakfast Bars

I have a confession to make. I really have never nor cared to pay attention to what I eat. I don’t dab the grease off my pizza, I don’t count calories and I have no issues with cheese on my cheeseburgers. Double cheeseburgers. Sure, I compare labels when grocery shopping. I’ll see what foods have higher cholesterol levels than others, but I’m not looking for the most healthy. I’m looking for the least unhealthy of all the foods that I like.

Special K Strawberry Breakfast BarsBut my doctor is persistent, convincing and genuine when he tells me I need to get a grip on what I put in my body. Cholesterol kills. Even if it’s a slow death or a premature death. As does a ton of other things that are or are not in the body. When he said I was low in vitamin D, I shrugged it off until he explained a lack of vitamin D may lead to osteo-something which leads to weakened bone structures which leads to pain.

Pain? Ok, I’m listening.

My breakfast usually consists of a can of Mountain Dew. Sometimes eggs with cheese and sausage from a breakfast bar downtown DC before heading to work. Or maybe French Toast drowning in syrup and a side of grapes to make me feel like I did something.

But it’s time to change that. Not that I’m about to have tofu and bean sprouts for breakfast, but I can do a little something. While at the grocery store the other day, I grabbed a box of cereal, though reluctantly not my favorite Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Count Chocula. Instead, I hastily grabbed a box of Cheerios because it looked healthier than what I normal get and more tasty than the cereals with pictures of hearts and healthy people on it.

But I added something I’ve never added before. Breakfast bars. I just never paid attention to them. They look like snacks to me. Not breakfast. But I know milk and I don’t always get along so I better have a plan B.

We were in a rush, so I settled for Eating Right Strawberry Fruit and Grain Cereal Bars. Had one this morning. Tasty actually. Almost too tasty. Curious, I looked up the nutritional facts on it since the one thing these healthy foods companies do better than make healthy foods is make it appear as the foods are more healthy than we think.

Special K Strawberry Breakfast BarsThe Eating Right cereal bar I got has 120 calories, 3g of fat, 13g of sugar and 25mg of cholesterol. Is that good? I have no idea, so I compared it to some other breakfast bars. Special K Strawberry Cereal Bars [pictured] have 90 calories, 1.5g of fat, 8g of sugar and most importantly, no cholesterol at all.

I’ve been duped. Now if you ask me what all that means from a nutritional standpoint, I’ll confess that I have no idea. Is 50% more far and sugar really that big of a deal when we’re talking about a handful of grams? Beats me. I just know that a breakfast bar a day for a week leads to 7.5 more grams of fat and 25g of sugar. Not to mention 125mg of cholesterol versus none. In a month that’s 33 more grams of fat, 110g of sugar, 550mg of cholesterol and 660 more calories.

All that accumulated from just one breakfast bar just before work?

Ok, ok, ok, I’m starting to feel like this is a Jenny Craig sponsored post when I just wanted to share my enlightening moment when it came to breakfast bars. I’m even man enough to admit that if Special K doesn’t satisfy my taste buds, I might delete this post and stick with Eating Right.

But I’m thinking maybe someone is interested in these things enough to start comparing what you eat for breakfast bars and will be more motivated than me to getting it right. I’m working on it, though. Special K has been added to the grocery list, and I have a feeling I’m about to do these comparisons with everything else I eat. Eventually I might even replace [or subsidize] Mountain Dew with more water.

I did check out other breakfast bars. Two other recommended breakfast bars one another site recommended NutriGrain and Kashi bars. Maybe I’m missing something but Kellogg’s NutriGrain Strawberry Bars had 120 calories, 3g of fat and 13g of sugar, similar to Eating Right; and Kashi’s Honey Toasted 7-Grain Crunchy Granola Bars, which sounds both delicious and healthy, has 170 calories and 5 grams of fat.

Maybe I’m splitting hairs. Maybe the point is that eating any of these is better than bacon and eggs with cheese. Maybe the difference between 1.5 grams of fat and 5 grams of fat is the same as selecting credit or debit when buying groceries.

All I know is that some of my vitals went down by what I perceived to be a few numbers, a fraction here and there, and my doctor acted like I was eating Big Macs for breakfast and washing it down with whiskey. If a change of 10 points in my cholesterol and vitamin D is significant enough for him to stress my health needs my attention, I’m going to split hairs and at least feel like I’m doing something about it.

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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.

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