Throughout history and in different cultures, meals differ greatly – the quantity and size of foodstuffs consumed, as well as eating times, have always varied. Many factors have shaped how humans have incorporated meals into their lives, from religion to food availability, to new technology like artificial lighting. A midday meal today, sometimes scarfed down in front of a computer at work, looks vastly different from the lavish dinners (as they were called) of the Middle Ages.
Breakfast also took on a new significance in the early 20th century, due in part to the invention of cereal and toasters, and the canonization of breakfast foods. Although we’ve all heard the assertion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, many disagree with that statement. Some even say that whether or not you eat breakfast doesn’t make a difference to your health.
All this to say is that the concept of meals, and how we think of them, is very arbitrary. Our personal rule of thumb is to listen to your gut (literally) and eat what makes you feel good, not what dated cultural tendencies are telling you to eat.
What Constitutes a Meal
A Cornell University study executed in 2009 looked at peoples’ eating habits and what they defined as “meals” versus “snacks”. Unsurprisingly, people have many associations with meals that differentiate them from mere snacks. At a meal, you might be with family, your food could be on a ceramic plate, and eat for up to 30 minutes.
Snacks lack these associations, as many people in the study described snacks as eaten standing up, without plates (or using paper or plastic plates), and eaten in 10 minutes or less. To some extent, food and our associations around it is psychological.
What we can learn from this study is that healthful meals can take on many different forms, and may come in the form of an energy bar, rather than a home-cooked meal.
So, you might look at an energy bar as a snack food, when really you’re getting the same nutrients you would get from a “meal”. Tahoe Trail Bars are made with whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fruit, constituting a well-rounded, healthy meal replacement.
Of course, what defines a sustaining “meal” depends on your lifestyle. An energy bar is a great option for lunch during a busy day at the office, but on an intense trek, you may need more than one.
Benefits of Snacking
At Tahoe, we’re a huge fan of snacks that can double as meals...so much so that we started making them! While many on-the-go snack options are unhealthy and overprocessed, we pride ourselves on always using whole foods and natural ingredients in our bars.
If you’re not already convinced of the benefits of snacking throughout the day, hopefully we can change your mind. Snacking (versus eating three large, “square” meals) raises metabolism, increases concentration, lowers cholesterol, and decreases your risk for diabetes and heart disease.
How many times have you stuffed yourself at lunch when you weren’t even that hungry, because you knew you wouldn’t eat until that evening? So many preconceived notions about meals and what we should and should not eat are deeply ingrained in our minds. If you eat when your body is actually hungry, and not when your mind is reminding you that you should be eating, you’ll be much better off.
Some say that snacking is an integral part of weight loss, as it helps maintain your metabolism and prevents you from overeating at mealtime. Rather than eating a huge lunch and hoping that it sustains you until dinner, you can snack on an energy bar in the afternoon to tide yourself over – and, you end up eating less at your next meal, helping you reach your weight loss goals.
One of our favorite, and most convenient, snacks are energy bars. If you get hungry around 10:30 but aren’t planning on eating until 1:00, snack on an energy bar to keep your blood sugar levels up and to avoid overeating at lunch to make up for your hunger.
Healthy Meals in a Pinch
One of the best things about energy bars, and a major reason why energy bars are so popular, is their portability. Because they store so well and are so compact, it’s easy to carry one in your bag or the glovebox of your car for when you get hungry. With so many restaurants and businesses being closed these days, you may not have as many healthy food options as you used to. A healthy energy bar is a far better option, and more nutritious, than a meal from a fast food restaurant.
Meal Replacements on the Trail
Tahoe Trail Bars were made for the trail, which is our favorite place to enjoy our all-natural, non-GMO bars. First of all, they’re extremely portable and produce almost no waste. It’s super easy to pack out an energy bar wrapper and minimize your impact on nature.
They’re also designed to energize you during your hike, or whatever your preferred activity is. Tahoe Trail Bars are made with slow-burning carbs that provide sustained energy release, and fuel you more than an overly processed bar would. When you bring Tahoe Trail Bars on a hike or a backpacking trip, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for portability. We may be biased, but they’re the best energy bars we’ve ever eaten.
The next time you’re in a pinch and need a healthy meal, look no further than Tahoe Trail Bars. Made with plant-based protein and always gluten free, they’re suitable for almost any diet – and delicious, too!