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Food Shopping 101

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I don’t know what to shop for?  How do you know if something is healthy or not? I don’t know how to read (interpret) the labels.  These are all legitimate questions that anyone who has ever ventured to the grocery store has asked themselves.  The modern supermarket is truly a marvel, and it is where we all start to try and bring our families good health and nutrition.  Just as important, if not more important than your workout program, the supermarket seems to be the secret weapon to get fit and healthy.  Now let me teach you how to use it.  Or better yet, SURVIVE IT !!!

You need to realize that a trip to the supermarket is not a chore but a chance for you to do something great for yourself and your family.  In a recent survey, 71% of Americans said they were going to eat out less and cook more meals at home to save money.  That’s great news for your health, because 1/3 of Americans will eat less than 5 cooked meals and home, while 1/6 will eat less than three!!  My favorite breakfast used to be at McDonald’s.  I loved the Deluxe breakfast when I was in a rush and needed to eat quick. 

Here’s the nutritional info on McDonald’s Deluxe Breakfast:

 1150 cals

60 grams of fat

20 g of saturated fat

575 mg Cholesterol

2260 mg of sodium

116 g of carbs

17 g of sugar

36 g of protein

No wonder I felt so sick after eating it.  My point is, that its better to read labels and shop for your own food then to trust some food chain restaurant that could careless about you health.  Do you really know whats in the food at the local fast food restaurant, local diner or the all-you-can-eat buffet?  Most of what you eat at these places are science experiments,  not real food.  Another fact about McDonld’s.  It takes approximately 20 ingredients to make the chicken in their chicken nuggets.  WHAT?  But get this, it takes another 20 ingredients to make the outside of the nugget.  That’s over 40 ingredients to make a chicken nugget.  Believe it or not its that same at almost all your fast-food restaurant’s.

So, the next time you go to the supermarket make it your mission to learn how to shop for healthier foods, here’s some rules that can help.

Rule 1.) Stay on the edges.  Have you noticed that most of the healthiest food in the supermarket is on the walls.  At my local Wal-Mart store the outside walls are dominated by meats, fish, chicken, dairy and produce.  If you look at the inside isles you will find that most of the products come in cans, bags or boxes, and are usually highly processed.

Rule 2.) Look at all the products on the shelf.  Most food companies pay good money to have their products at eye level for your viewing pleasure.  The fact is that healthier foods tend to be on the top shelf and the bottom shelf.  Once you know what your looking for you’ll know where to find it the next come you shop.

Rule 3.) The more the packaging the less nutrition – For example, a quart of strawberries is better than strawberry pop tarts (made with real strawberries, WINK) or strawberry flavored milk.  The process of shipping, cooking, refining, and packaging foods all contribute to stripping these food of vital nutrients, leading to empty food calories.

Rule 4.) Learn the language – What’s the difference between whole grain and multi grain?  Which is healthier?  Click here for more information.  If a product is fat free, then that must be healthier than a product that has fat, right?  Not necessarily.  Fat is not bad for you, besides you actually need it to survive.  Its the amount of fat that we eat that’s bad.  You can eat walnuts or almonds which contain huge amounts of fat, but these are full of healthy fats like monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3s.  Most Americans tend to eat too much of the bad fats like saturated fats and trans fats.

Rule 5.) The less ingredients the better – How many ingredients do the following contain: bananas, papayas, mango’s, strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, etc.  Now how many ingredients are in your breakfast cereal, the frozen meal you eat for lunch, your bag of so called healthy chips you had for snack . . you get the picture.  Less is better when it comes to ingredients.

Rule 6.) Read the label to see where ingredients are listed – The higher the ingredient is on the label, the more of it that’s in the product.  For example, if on the ingredient list high fructose corn syrup is listed as the first ingredient, then the product contains more HFCS than any other ingredient.  If its listed lower, like number 5 then the product contains four ingredients that have more in it than HFCS.  Companies always list the most prominent ingredients at the top and go down to the least.

These are just a few of the things that I keep in mind when I make my weekly trip to the grocery store.  Practice these good habits and you’ll be shopping for healthier food in no time.

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