Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

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Sexism and snacks


Of course I couldn’t resist reading the article Nutrition Bars Are Sexist? Oh, Okay when it came through on my Google nutrition news alert. The author writes rather condescendingly about a blog post: The Stereotype-Driven Business of Selling Nutrition Bars to Women

In the original blog post Stephie Grob Plante writes, more than fairly in my opinion, about the marketing of “nutrition” bars to women. These bars include Luna, thinkThin, and Eat Like a Woman. I’ve only seen the former in Canada. However, based on the packaging and the marketing terms I’m in wholehearted agreement with Plante’s assessment of these nutrition bars appealing to the expectation that women desire to be thin and to lose weight. You can see the same thing in the advertisements for Special K and, let’s be honest, pretty much every product that is targeting women. The notion is that women need portion-controlled grab-and-go bars to avoid uncontrollable over eating and subsequent weight gain.

On the other hand, you see energy and protein bars targeting men and athletes. These products focus on packing as many calories and as much protein as possible into a single bar. As Plante points out, the marketing suggests that men are more inclined to forget to eat and need something that they can grab and scarf down.

The responding article, written by Katherine Timpf states that Plante seems to have forgotten that “marketing is about stereotyping”. Oh, okay. Because marketing is rooted in sexist stereotypes that makes it logical that nutrition bars employ said stereotypes to market their products to women. Just because sexism is insidious doesn’t make it okay.

Timpf asserts:

The advertisements are targeted at women who want to lose weight because the bars are intended to appeal to women who want to lose weight. How could this possibly be considered controversial?

Um… It can be considered controversial because the stereotypes employed to market these bars to women are offensive. To tell me, as a woman, that I should eat a bar because it will make me thin is presumptuous. It also goes beyond the implication that I chose my foods to stay or become skinny. It implies that thin is ideal. That I will be more successful in life, and more desirable to men, if only I eat their specially formulated snack bar. Good grief.

Timpf also states that somehow this is an issue to take-up with God(??!!!) because he created men and women differently and therefore, we have different nutrient needs. Yes, okay, on average, men need more calories than women. However, nutrient needs vary more among individuals than between sexes. And one little bar is not going to have a huge impact on your nutrient consumption for the day anyhow.

There is one good point made by Timpf at the very end of her article. That’s the fact that most of these “nutrition” bars aren’t particularly nutritious to begin with and they’re full of highly processed suspect ingredients.

Obviously, making your own snacks is ideal. However, we’re all busy and sometimes a snack bar does come in handy. There are plenty of decent options available that don’t employ sexist marketing messages. You don’t have to support the continued use of sexist marketing tactics. Choose snack bars that focus on the ingredients, nutrition, and flavour rather than telling you that you need to lose weight.

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Home made protein bars!


After trying many expensive and decidedly less than delicious store-bought protein bars, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own. I wanted to make ones using only whole ingredients and I didn’t feel like shelling out a whole lot of cash on protein powder when I wasn’t convinced that they wouldn’t be made unpalatable with that addition. All of the ingredients I used were purchased from my local grocery store. Feel free to try different nuts, nut butters, and cereals (just be aware that this may change the nutrient profile).

Each of these bars will give you a serving of protein (7 grams). If you want to increase the protein you might want to try adding protein powder. If you do, I’d love to hear how successful that is (feel free to share samples with me!).

Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Bars

1 cup honey dates

1/4 + 4 Tbsp skim milk powder

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/4 cup tahini

1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yoghurt

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts

1 cup crispy rice cereal (I used whole grain rice cereal, you might want to try puffed quinoa or Kashi puffed whole grain cereal – the intent was to add volume without many calories, additional protein and fibre is an added bonus).


Dump the first seven ingredients into a food processor. Process until smooth. Mixture will be quite thick and sticky. Scrape into a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Grease an 8 x 12″ baking pan. Put mixture into pan, spread evenly, and press down firmly. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours. Cut into 16 bars. Wrap individually and store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to a month.

Nutrition Info for One Bar:

167 kcal

8 g fat

1 g saturated fat

7 g protein

17 g carbs

8 g sugar

3 g fibre

7 g iron

37 mg sodium

69 mg potassium