SOS: I'm at the grocery store!
It comes as no surprise to me when I get questions about how to grocery shop. In fact, after I have a health and wellness consultation with someone, most likely our next meeting happens at a grocery store where I will literally walk them around to show them some of the tips I use. It can be extremely intimidating when you've got thousands of options and opinions around you. So here are some of my tips that will help you not only create a healthier lifestyle but will get you winning at the grocery store in no time.
1. Stay on the outskirts
For some of you, this may be a no-brainer but think about it- everything on the outskirts of the store needs to either be refrigerated, re-stocked often or at the very least frozen. That also means it's perishable and fresher. You'll notice your fruits and veggies, meats, seafood, milk, yogurt, eggs, etc. Those should take up 75% of your cart without a doubt. If you're heading to the middle of the store, foods there most likely consist of additives to keep a longer shelf life. With those items, already have a list made of 4-5 things you absolutely need or want to try. Not only will this help your waistline, but your wallet as well.
2. Read the fine print
Turning your boxed items around to check out the ingredient list is a must. Although keywords like organic, grass-fed, whole-grains, & lactose-free, are very important, it's much more important to see what is actually in your food.
For example, a lot of nut-milk options are the big fad at this point and can be extremely beneficial for someone with lactose intolerances, but when is the last time you've actually taken note of what's in there? Most of them have additives like guar gum and gellan gum, which acts as a binding agent and has shown to give many people those same bloating reactions as regular milk, and carrageenan, which can cause inflammation and even cancer in some cases. Or your favorite low-carb tortilla chips that have canola oil, which has also been linked to many issues. I don't want to scare you aware from those options by any means, but it's important to take note of what is actually being produced.
My rule of thumb is anything that comes from a package needs to have less than 3 ingredients that do not come from the Earth- hello, I'm not counting salt and pepper. It keeps me from getting too crazy with my 20% "treat yo-self" part of my diet and helps me feel better down the road.
3. Yes, go organic- & those other fancy terms
Fruits & Veggies
As much as we all hate the bumped up prices when we see "organic" across the price tag, it will pay off. Research shows that organic foods are higher in antioxidants and other nutrients, like omega-3 and CLA essential fatty acids. Not only that, but there are far less to no toxic pesticides that could be sprayed on your food. It's not only important for your body but can positively affect your brain as well.
Instead of having to reference a list of fruits and veggies, I just keep it simple- if you can eat the skin, like strawberries, spinach, apples, cucumbers, go organic. If you only eat what's inside the skin, like avocado, corn, and pineapples, you're safe without it.
Grass-fed and grass-finished is a term that really came to fruition with the Ketogenic diet coming back around, and I'm so glad. When you see meat that's been stamped with this, it means exactly what it sounds like- the cows have been grass-fed. With the increase of the meat demand, cows were starting to be fed other types of fuel like grain, that includes corn and soy, which is very unnatural for the cow to digest and can in return cause stress and does not result in better meat for us on the receiving end.
Wild-caught and farm-raised seafood are great choices when looking at fish. Today, 80% of the world's marine populations are fully fished, depleted, or recovering from depletion due to demand for seafood. Very similar to grass-fed beef, raising seafood by giving them the space they need and keeping them from polluted areas only result in better quality for the consumer.
Pasture Raised is by far the most important factor to look at when deciding on eggs. These hens live outdoors and eat a diet of seeds and insects that will only improve the taste and benefits of eggs. One company I think has fantastic eggs is Vital Farms and most grocery stores carry them.
Organic eggs are regulated by the USDA that ensure they come from free-range chickens fed with 100% organic feed, with no hormones or added antibiotics.
I hope that helps you on your next trip to the grocery store! Any other tips you all have, feel free to comment below. Happy shopping!