I love going to the grocery store, one because I love food and two because I love food. My go is Superstore because I love their natural foods selection and they carry a line of antibiotic and hormone free meats. For some I can imagine that the grocery store may be overwhelming when it comes to eating a more minimally processed diet, where do you start? What parts of the store do you avoid? Let me happily offer some guidance.
Make a list!
You think you can remember everything; you’ve got a great memory, right?!? Ok fine, but please still always make a list, otherwise you’ll end up like my former self and spend hours on end looking at everything anything even though you don’t need it. It’s one of the reason’s my spouse refused to shop with me because I’d wander, he used to have to hold my hand or otherwise he’d lose me in the grocery jungle. Making a list keeps you in line so that you go for what you only need and don’t end up with a cart full of unnecessary things that you may regret purchasing and feeling obligated to eat or use.
Rule of thumb!
I’m sure many of you have heard this but to reiterate, spend most of your time on the perimeter of the store. That’s where you will find the most nutrient dense foods, almost all grocery stores are designed this way. It’s where you will find your fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, seafood, dairy and eggs etc. Now, that’s not to say you can’t visit the aisles in the middle because that’s where you will find your pantry basics, but proceed with caution, which leads me to my next point.
But it says natural and low fat and healthy?!?!?
I know, why can’t we just trust food manufacturers to actually make the foods that they claim on their labels. Because food marketing is a multi million-dollar industry, their goal is to make the product as appealing as it can possibly be and trendy. Currently, the trend is “natural”, “plant based”, “gluten-free” and so on. Just because one of these labels are pasted on the packaging does not make the overall product “healthy”. Many processed foods will have labels such as these but in the end it’s still a highly processed product and we want to do our best to avoid such foods.
So how do I know a product is highly processed?
Food manufactures are required to list their ingredient by order of highest to lowest volume in their products. If high fructose corn syrup (sugar) is the first ingredient, please shy away! It’s a highly processed sugar, same with partially hydrogenated oils; those are fats that fall in the trans fatty acid category. Hard to pronounce ingredients, some say if it’s hard to pronounce stay away! There is some truth to that for sure but some ingredients are just the chemical name of some common ingredients, for example eicosapentaenoic acid is the scientific name of EPA, an essential fatty acid that is good for you! So, when in doubt check it out, and by that I mean ask a dietician or nutritionist. For the most part I do my best to stay away from packaged foods and try to make most things from scratch.
Organic foods have been available for some now and you there are varying degrees as to whether they are a waste of money or not. My thoughts are that yes some produce absolutely buy organic and some you can get away with not. The 2019 list of foods to buy organic are: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes and hot peppers. This list is per the Environmental Working Group, they are a non-profit group that does research in relation to environmental dangers in food and consumer products. I highly recommend checking out their website or downloading their App EWG’s Healthy living!
So, there you have it! A few tidbits to guide you though the grocery store, I know most of us try to maintain healthy eating habits but some days it can be daunting and that’s ok. We are not perfect; I know I’m not. It’s all about creating a healthy balance and being diligent when we can. In the future I would like to do some grocery store tours so stay tuned!
Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only, it is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any illness or disease. Please consult a professional for your healthcare needs.