Thanks, Liz, for asking an amazing three part question!
“Grocery shopping 101: What to stay away from, what to use at substitutes for common unhealthy items, and what we should always buy.”- Liz
This is a lengthy topic, so I will break it down into a three part mini series!
A) What to stay away from when grocery shopping?
Most grocery stores are laid out the same way:
Almost all of your grocery shopping can be done on the outside edges of the store. Let’s go by department!
My favorite! Here, pretty much everything is fair game! Look for veggies that are dark and dense! Stay away from iceburg lettuce though, it has no nutritional value. For fruits, try to limit your tropical, sugary fruits. Ahhh! I know, bananas! I love them too, but check this out:
– Your body doesn’t recognize “imported” or “foreign” food and will most likely end up storing it. Plus, these fruits are high in natural sugar and will spike your blood sugar levels causing withdrawals and cravings for more.
– Have you ever been satisfied by a banana? I didn’t think so…..
Instead, look for locally grown, organic fruits. If you want to go organic, start with the produce you eat the most. Try denser fruits such as apples, oranges, apricots, pears and berries!!!
Deli Vs Frozen Meats:
Try to get as much of your meat from behind the counter as you can. And, if you can afford it, try to get it from places that guarantee freshness, cage free, no hormone, no nitrate meat selections. To learn more about meat, check out videos like Food Inc, Meet Your Meat (fairly graphic) and Fast Food Nation (a fictional story, but oh so true, also a little graphic). Frozen meat almost always contains nitrates (added chemicals). Wikipedia says,” Organic nitro compounds (see below) both organic and inorganic nitrates can be used propellants and explosives. An example of the use of inorganic nitrate was classical gunpowder. In all these uses the thermal decomposition of the nitrate yields molecular nitrogen N2 gas plus considerable chemical energy, due to the high strength of the bond in molecular nitrogen. Especially in inorganic nitrate reactions, oxidation from the nitrate oxygens is also an important energy-releasing process.” Awesome.
Dairy. This is another area of controversy for a lot of people. First, dairy is meant to be consumed as a baby, to get FAT. Adult bodies are not designed to digest milk enzymes (lactose). That is why people suffer (in part) with acne and eczema. Dairy causes inflammation in the body, which causes tummy troubles, gas, constipation, irritability and weight gain. The dairy farmers of Oregon would have you think that Alpenrose products are the end all be all of dairy and should be consumed daily, but I argue that.
I suffered from gnarly, debilitating headaches for about three months. I had an MRI, blood tests, acupuncture, a chiropractic routine and shots to try and make them stop. Not once in my 11 doctor visits did someone ask about my diet!! I decided since they couldn’t find something in my body, it must be something I was putting into it! The first thing I did was cut dairy and the next day my headaches were GONE!
Quick fact- we are one of the only nations that drink cows milk as adults. Think about why a cow even produces milk- for her baby! Cows are injected with hormones and kept pregnant for all of their life (about 2 years on average) and milked daily, not by soft human hands, but by machines which rip and tear their udders, causing them to bleed into your milk. Thank goodness they pasteurize it (take out all the good stuff and artificially inject it back in)!
A lot of people ask about yogurt. I think greek yogurt (plain, sorry!) is a great protein source if you can tolerate it. Watch out for brands like Yoplait (the use High Fructose Corn Syrup), Activia ( corn syrup), Fred Meyer brand (Sucralose) and Dannon (corn syrup). Stick with whole brands like Chobani, Fage, Ois and Trader Joes. Try to avoid the flavored ones (they can have upward of 20 grams of sugar!!!). Add your own sweeteners and fruits for more flavor.
I loooove this part!!! It can be an amazing tool, but of course, there are somethings to watch out for. Try to avoid the candy/trail mix. If you want trail mix, make your own with raw nuts and unsweetened dried fruits. Read the labels on what you scoop out. Almost all dried fruit in the bulk bins is sweetened and has added acid to”preserve freshness”. Uh huh.
You can get some wonderful grains, beans, nuts, legumes and flours from this section. It can also be cheaper a lot of times! You can even make your own almond/peanut butter in these sections as well as buy spices that are wayyyy cheaper!
That leaves us with the inside of the store, the land of disappointment. This is to be avoided at all costs. This is home to canned, bagged, processed, sugary, artificial “foods” that will do you no favors. Nope, not even your 100 calorie packs! Seriously, if you can learn to shop on the outer rim of the store, you will see a difference in your waistline and your wallet. Processed foods cost more than produce- plain and simple. Load up on veggies, fruits, whole grains, fresh meats and yummy yogurt to stay full, lose weight and have happy tummies!
For a great book on healthy foods to look for, check out Worlds Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan.
To learn more about how to shop, check out my business blog- www.healthyfoodstoyou.com.