Healthy Shopping Tips
Does your week seem to get ahead of you? Let me help you! Follow these simple steps and your path to wellness and healthy eating are set in motion.
Practicing healthfully doesn’t come easy for most of us living in the modern world. Most of us are removed from ancestral wisdom and practices.
Unless you were raised with that knowledge, it takes effort to live healthfully now a days.
It is doable though. It starts with having the proper guidance and a plan.
Here are some tips to help you maneuver out of the “convenient fast food” maze world.
Just like anything worthwhile pursuing, it takes some effort initially to build a foundation for healthy eating lifestyle. In no time, it will become second nature.
A big part of overall wellness is healthy eating. This means different things to different people – omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, raw, etc. However, regardless of the particular dietary preferences you observe, there are several basics for healthy eating – minimize or eliminate processed foods; eat lots of vegetables and fruits; and cook meals from scratch, to name a few. Here are some tips to build or maintain a foundation for healthy eating in your family.
- Make a plan. Set aside 15 minutes or so on the weekend to plan your meals for the week. Try new recipes or use tried and true favorites (or both!) Make double batches so there are leftovers for lunches or dinners the next day, which cuts back on the amount of cooking. Make large batches of soups, stews, casseroles, or other recipes that can be portioned and frozen, then thawed during the week.
- Create a shopping list from your meal plan. That way you won’t buy too much or forget a crucial ingredient. Having everything you need to whip up a healthy dinner also minimizes the chances you’ll stare into your fridge or pantry at the end of a long day, only to decide that takeout would be easier than trying to play Iron Chef with random things you find there (see #1 above).
- Shop wisely. This one’s hard, especially at mainstream supermarkets. So, I’ll focus the rest of these tips on how to shop wisely. Let’s start with where to go – you’ll find a better selection of “real food” options at natural foods stores. Some local favorites: Whole Foods, Erewhon Market, Lassens and Sprouts. Farmer’s markets can’t be beat for produce, eggs, and more. I like getting my bread at the Farmer’s market or a local bakery that follow ancient traditions.
- Shop the perimeter. That’s where most of the whole foods are – produce, meat, dairy. A note about produce – frozen is just as healthy as fresh. That’s because frozen veggies are frozen at the peak of freshness, right after being picked. Off-season produce is usually grown very far away, picked early to ensure it can make the long trip to your supermarket, then ripened artificially. However, the best place to shop for produce is the local farmers’ market. That’s a whole post unto itself, but see #10 for the abbreviated version.
- Meat and dairy. Try to buy grass fed/grass finished and meat and dairy if it’s within your budget. It’s better for you and the environment. Choose raw organic milk.
- Fish. Look for wild and sustainably-caught fish. Alaskan salmon, shrimp or prawns from the US, and Arctic char are good choices. Check www.edf.org/seafoodhealth.
- Organic? If it’s in your budget, buy organic produce. You may want to use the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists as guides for which produce to buy organic. The EWG has a downloadable pdf or an app so you can always have the list at your fingertips: According to the EWG, the “dirty dozen” most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables are: apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, and potatoes. Green beans and kale/greens may contain pesticides of particular concern. The “clean 15″ are onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, cabbage, sweet peas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, kiwi, domestic cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, and mushrooms. If you’re on a budget (and who among us isn’t?), buy your berries organic but don’t spend extra on organic mushrooms. But, and this is important, even conventional produce is much, much, much better for you than processed foods. So eat lots of it, and don’t skip it if you can’t get organic.
- Read labels! Very, very important. Generally consider anything that has more than five ingredients. This isn’t absolute. If say a bag of potato chips have only 3 ingredients and two of them are toxic like vegetable oil, it is best to avoid those chips. Don’t buy anything that has any form of sugar or sweetener in the first three ingredients. Of course, don’t buy anything that has ingredients you can’t pronounce unless they are names of friendly bacterias such as bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus etc in your healthy yogurt. Or, if you’ve taken chemistry, maybe you can pronounce them but if it sounds like something you’d find in organic chemistry lab, don’t buy it. Be wary of products with health claims on the package. They’re usually highly engineered, processed foods. Ignore the front of the package and read the label instead.
- Try the bulk bins. Get rice, quinoa, oatmeal, nuts, seeds, beans, interesting grains you’ve always wanted to try (think millet, amaranth, etc.) Bulk bins save you lots of money, and you get real foods there. Stay away from the candy of course.
- Get produce from the farmers’ market or a CSA. Eat locally grown produce that’s in season and picked when ripe. You can chat with the vendors to get new ideas for familiar items, or try something new. When at the farmers’ market, ask lots of questions. Do not assume that just because you find it there, it’s organic. Or just because it isn’t certified organic doesn’t mean the farmer/rancher doesn’t follow sustainable practices. Some smaller farms don’t go through the hassle and expense of becoming “certified” organic, but they do follow organic practices, most importantly they do not use pesticides. However, there are sometimes vendors selling conventionally grown produce (herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, etc.). Some markets are more stringent about this than others, but just be sure to ask.
- A CSA (community supported agriculture) is a system where you pay into a farm or group of farms, and get a box of produce each week throughout the season. Some may even be year-round, especially ones that are a group of farms. This ensures that the farmers have reliable funding to support their farm(s), and you get a return on your investment in the form of the farm’s bounty! With some CSA’s you get a variety of things you may not have thought to purchase yourself. You get exposed to many new super healthy veggies and fruits, and help support local farmers in the process. Some others you can pick and choose your produce in advance. Either way it’s a win-win!
The more you practice living healthfully, the easier it becomes and the healthier you become–BareFood Angel
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To Your Health,
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