Choosing a meal replacement product seems simple enough. It's meant to be a choice that offers ease and simplicity. But with a market full of infinite options, how do you choose the one that's right for you? How does the layperson separate the good stuff from the not-so-good stuff? And how do we ensure that not only is the product we choose the healthiest option for us but that the reasons we make the decision are healthy too?
We chatted with Emily Marr, one of our favorite Registered Dietitians and an Intuitive Eating advocate on how to choose the meal replacement that's right for you.
Sneakz: What are the benefits of a “meal replacement” product?
Emily: If we look beyond weight loss (because I do not believe in using these for weight loss methods) there are many benefits to meal replacement shakes.
Easy/quick: with this fast paced world we live in, sometimes we do not have enough time to make a proper nourishing meal, so a meal replacement shake is a perfect option Provides a lot of the important nutrients: even for the “healthiest” people, it’s hard to get in all the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber in the diet, so these can help achieve that. Relieve digestive burden: if we have eaten a lot of inflammatory foods/heavy foods, or just have digestive upset, it sometimes doesn’t sound good to eat food, but we still need the nutrition and calories, so a liquid meal is a great way to give digestion a break.
Sneakz: How does someone choose something like that healthfully vs. a choice influenced by diet culture?
Emily: Make sure you are choosing a meal replacement for the right reasons. Ask yourself, does this actually sound good? Why am I choosing a meal replacement over actual food? Will this satisfy my hunger/cravings right now? (please be cautious if you have a disordered eating past!)
Sometimes we do not have an option, i.e traveling, time crunch, starving and no food around, etc. They are perfect in these situations for everyone- better than going hungry and gives you everything you need.
Sneakz: What sort of ingredients do you look for in a product like this?
Emily: Look for familiar ingredients, things you know and can pronounce.
Limit added sugar, hidden sugar, or fake sugar (it can hide in many forms). If it has sugar, look for the REAL DEAL- pure cane sugar! Should be high in protein and fiber, Organic (if possible- just better sourcing), Added probiotics are a plus (help digestion).
Sneakz: What sort of ingredients would you choose to avoid?
Emily: Artificial flavors, artificial sugars (and/or more than one type of added sugar)
gums/thickeners, unnecessary ingredients- if you are questioning why something is in it, we question why you are drinking it (we want every ingredient to have a purpose if possible).
Sneakz: We use cane sugar in Meal2Go, can you speak to why people are afraid of that ingredient and how you feel about it?
Emily: A little bit of sugar will not kill you! Depriving ourselves/stressing about it is more unhealthy than actually eating the sugar… and yes, there is plenty of research to prove this. If you're going to eat sugar, make sure its the REAL DEAL! Know what you’re putting into your body, not the fake, highly processed/refined stuff.
Organic cane sugar simply means that the sugar cane was grown organically, without synthetic herbicides or pesticides. Not only will the sugar itself be free of residues from these chemicals, but choosing organic products also reduces the overall pesticide load on the environment. And that's a better option, don’t you think?