Going grocery shopping can be an overwhelming experience, and even more so if you are trying to stay healthy. There are so many things labeled with words like “natural,” “fortified,” “healthy,” and “whole,” that it is easy to be deceived into thinking that many things are healthy when they aren’t.
Here are some easy guidelines to help you make healthy choices at the supermarket:
1. If you make a list, you come prepared and you will be less likely to be swayed by less healthy options.
2. If You Can’t Pronounce It, Don’t Eat It!!! A good place to start is by looking at labels. If you do feel overwhelmed by what you read on the label, it’s a good sign you shouldn’t buy it, let alone eat it. Ingredients should be simple and real, like “milk, butter, eggs, vanilla”. A good rule of thumb is to look at the first three or four ingredients on the label. Those particular are found most or carry the most nutritional value in the product.
3. Eat real food and try to stick to pure ingredients as often as possible. These are the foods along the outside edges of the supermarket, foods like fruits, vegetables, meat, milk, eggs, and whole, unrefined grains (brown rice, oats, quinoa, barley, kamut, etc.) If you do wander down the center isles, be sure you know exactly what you are looking for and follow guideline number one
4. Try to eat organic whenever possible, but beware of labels that claim they are “all natural”. Just like natural flavors, this label doesn’t guarantee purity. Simply put, organic means the food was not sprayed with chemicals which can add up to a huge toxic burden for your body, eventually leading to all sorts of diseases. Moreover, organic foods have been shown to be richer in nutrients and don’t deplete the soil. Look for USDA Certified Organic foods label
5. There are so many different meat packaging companies out there. It is hard to find great quality and freshness at times. Eat only Free-Range, Grass-Fed, and/or Pasture-Raised, Hormone-Free, or (Best of All) Wild Caught Meat Products. These animals not only live happier lives, but they are more likely to be fed what they evolved to eat, and consequently digest better so they have more nutrients for your body to absorb as well.
6. Eat mostly fresh ingredients like ripe fruits, vegetables, and meat tend to have more vitamins and minerals readily available for your body to absorb.
7. Farmer’s markets are springing up everywhere nowadays, and they are the best way to get the freshest seasonal food. At the farmer’s market you can talk directly with the people who have grown the food to make sure they use the best practices. And you’re supporting LOCAL merchants!! J
I hope this list helps you on your forever quest of health and well-being. I know that it can be extremely hard to both find and afford to eat healthier, but if you follow even half of the items above you will be well on your way to success in the kitchen and make you a wiser and more frugal shopper.