How much thought and planning goes into your grocery store experience? Do you stick to a grocery list or do you just “wing” it every time and hope for the best? I get the pleasure of working with many of you on an ongoing basis and I get really good at understanding what fuels your lifestyle. There are several areas that almost everyone needs guidance in. One is how to handle the obesogenic environment and the other relates to lack of skills related to planning and preparing your own food. In America, the art and skill of cooking meals at home is virtually nonexistent for the typical family. We’ve outsourced that responsibility to corporations and as a result, our health has greatly suffered. The good news is that with a little understanding and planning, you can transform your health completely by stocking your kitchen with wholesome, nourishing foods. The opposite is also true; If you stock your kitchen with junk food and give no thought to what you eat, your health will suffer.
Let’s talk about confusion for a moment. Think about catchy buzzwords or phrases that grab your attention– “High protein, low-carb, gluten-free, non-gmo, organic, made with whole grains, 100% natural, immune support.” What do all these terms really mean? Well, not much. They are just words that have been glossed up so you’ll by their product. The first step to becoming a savvy and smart shopper is simply an awareness that your food purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by external factors such as marketing, product placement, consumer trends, etc. Buyer Beware and be on the lookout for marketing ploys. Even the layout, the lighting and the smells at grocery stores may have been manufactured to encourage increased spending on junk food.
The second step involves sticking to a plan, or a shopping list, but how do you determine if a food is healthy or worthy to be in your cart? There are some general rules to follow:
- Eat real food. Begin the process of incorporating whole, REAL foods into your diet and phase out “food-like substances.” As a general rule, the majority of your food should have less than 5 ingredients.
- Forget the packaging and look deeper. Peek at the Nutrition Facts Label and thoroughly read the ingredient list. Are the ingredients substances that you want in your body? You better bring your google machine, aka smart phone, to look up food additives for which you can’t pronounce.
- Is this food satisfying and nourishing, or is it overly stimulating? (Google Hyperpalatable foods and food addiction)
- Is this food high in sugar and salt? Hint: there are over 50 names for sugar. If you struggle with portion control or binge eating, engineered foods with the fat-salt-sugar combo may be nearly impossible to eat mindfully
- Is this food a good investment for my health? Does it fit within my budget?
I’m very careful not to give specific dietary advice to the general population because everyone’s nutrition needs are different. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to meeting your nutrition needs and it’s important to consider your goals, preferences, genetics and lifestyle factors. So although I wholly believe in eating natural, REAL foods, keep this in mind when preparing your nutrition plan and most importantly, seek the support and advice of your registered dietitian or nutrition coach. He or she can provide advice, as well as offer suggestions on tools and apps that may help with your grocery planning.
Smart Buys for Convenience:
- Chicken, Fish, Shrimp
- Tuna, Salmon packages/cans
- Protein powder of choice
- Egg whites
- Natural Nut Butters/Natural Peanut Butter
- Protein bar of choice, low in sugar
- Canned beans/lentils
- Frozen Quinoa/Brown Rice
- Steel Cut Oats
- Frozen or Fresh Vegetables
- Fresh or Frozen Fruit
- Plain, Lowfat yogurt
- Lowfat dairy or unsweetened Almond or Soymilk
- Low-fat Cheese Sticks
- Sparkling water, La Croix, Club Soda or Unsweetened Tea
- Herbs and Seasoning
- Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low sodium Tamari
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Nutritional Yeast
When you get home from the grocery store, make sure to set yourself up for success by prepping vegetables, fruits and healthy snacks for easy access. If you have the opportunity, try to attend a grocery shopping tour that’s held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 12pm and 6pm.