If you grow your own food, it's safe to say that you'll successfully avoid processed foods with added sugar, modified oils, and all the other nasties lurking in modern day food. Well done!
Unfortunately, the rest of us are faced with sourcing our food from supermarket shelves that are (for the most part) filled with processed food.
These 10 tips will help you navigate the supermarket aisles and shop like a health pro:
1. Plan what you'll buy.
Don’t get sucked into buying food you don’t need. By heading to the store knowing exactly which healthy ingredients you need for your meals, you can go straight to them rather than meandering through aisles filled with unhealthy foods that might somehow wind up in your cart.
2. Only buy whole foods.
If a food lists just one ingredient, you can’t go wrong. An orange contains an orange, milk contains milk, and fish contains fish. You get the picture.
3. Skip sweetened drinks.
Most of the time, we're not drinking because we're thirsty; we are drinking because we feel like it. Juices, drinks, sport drinks, and thge like are bad news! And, since alcohol is made by fermenting sugar, it, too, should be avoided. (One of the many reasons to avoid alcohol!) Milk (if you're not lactose intolerant) or milk alternatives such as almond milk can be a good way to get your daily intake of calcium, but apart from this, water really is the only drink you need.
4. If you're going to buy meat, go for organic and grass-fed.
If you choose to eat meat, opt for grass-fed rather than lot or grain-fed as they accumulate fat in different ways. If it's not included on the label, assume it's grain-fed and keep on walking. By eating non-organic meat (in particular, chicken) you can also be eating added hormones and pesticides. Opt for organic whenever possible.
5. Avoid anything that says "light" or "lite" on the label.
Low-fat or light generally equals high sugar. Sugar is added to these foods to make up for the lost flavor once the fat is removed. Choose full-fat varieties if you can.
6. Only buy natural yogurt.
Natural yogurt is slightly sour. If yogurt is vanilla, strawberry, or any other flavor, you can be sure it's laden with added sugar. Greek and natural yogurts are safe choices. If you can’t handle natural yogurt, try adding fresh berries, cinnamon, or a little vanilla essence.
7. Remember, margarine is not food.
No matter how you package this one, it is not natural or healthy. If you would like a little something to spread, opt for avocado, plain butter, or nut butter.
8. Breakfast cereals are not food, either.
Most breakfast cereals are made up with a ton of added sugar. If cereal gets your motor running in the morning, opt for one that does not list sugar as an ingredient, or reach for whole oats, quinoa, puffed rice or grains, or natural organic muesli.
9. Avoid artificially sweetened anything.
In small amounts, artificial sweeteners can be beneficial in cutting down calories; however some may be dangerous in larger amounts. Terms to look out for are Sucralose, Saccharin and Aspartame to name a few.
10. Condiments are not cool.
Most commercial condiments (think: sauce, mayonnaise, pesto, sweet & sour sauce, etc.) are bad news. They're high in sugar, processed oils, and are best avoided. Try getting acquainted with your blender or food processer and make your own. It will be far tastier I promise!
Hopefully these 10 tips will help you in your future supermarket missions - unless of course you are lucky enough to grow your own produce! If you would like a little extra help with your next supermarket mission, contact me!