The past few months we have been taking the guests on a grocery store tour. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback and are glad the guests are finding it helpful! For those of you who haven’t been on the tour or for those how have and need a little reminder, I would like to list here what I hope you take away from that experience:
- Instead of reading only nutrition labels, I encourage you to read ingredient lists. Aim to buy products where the ingredients are recognizable, you can pronounce them and you could make it at home if you wanted to (meaning all the ingredients listed are ones you could use to make the product yourself), but you don’t have to because you can buy it! I’m all for kitchen short cuts, and having someone else do it for you can save a lot of time. This is especially true for things like hummus, guacamole, salad dressings, dips, marinara and other sauces, etc. When you eat wholesome foods, you feed your metabolism and feel more satisfied.
- Remember the balanced plate. If your plate should look like that, your grocery cart should! That also means that you can find a place for all foods at the grocery store – if you really love Ranch and can’t live without it, you have a place for it!
- Packaged foods that are calorie dense and nutrient dilute (chips, ice cream, cookies, etc) are probably foods you would want to eat less often. I call these “play foods”, and we can’t play all the time. We also gotta work (and hopefully that work is meaningful and satisfying). But we all want to play sometime and that’s OK! Just be aware that if you are really hungry (like needing a meal), you’ll need a large volume of these foods to feel full and satisfied. But if you have eaten a meal that is nutrient dense and calorie dilute and want to play a little after, go for it! Just watch the serving size and listen to fullness levels.
- Another tip in regards to the above: Let’s say you love chips and salsa (who doesn’t). Having a snack of just chips and salsa will probably mean eating a lot of chips because they aren’t very nutrient dense (read – low in volume, fiber and water). But what if you added some carrot sticks or apple slices and maybe a little avocado to your chips and salsa? Therefore you could still enjoy, but just find ways to bulk it up with more volume to make it overall more nutrient dense.
- The biggest hurdle for making more nutritious food choices is TIME. Utilize the pre-cut fruits and vegetables, which may cost more money but will be more convenient (meaning you’ll be more likely to eat them). Also, take an hour or so on the weekend to roast, grill, saute or in some way prepare flavorful vegetatables that you can easily add to meals throughout the week.
- You can review how to read food labels for sugar HERE, which is probably the most commonly asked question at the grocery store. (you can also read about the new food labels HERE).
- Should you buy organic? As it turns out, that’s more of an ethical or environmental issue than a nutritional issue, especially since if we would all just eat more fresh foods, our overall toxin load would be lower and we would enjoy better health, regardless of wether it’s organic or not. In fact the data I share in class regarding the health benefits of nutrient dense food patterns are all independant of organic foods. However, if you choose to buy organic, your money will be best spent on the “dirty dozen” which are those fruits and vegetables found to have the highest pesticide residue, while saving money on the “clean fifteen” which have the lowest residue. You can find those lists here: DIRTY DOZEN and CLEAN FIFTEEN.
I hope that’s been helpful! What other questions do you have about the grocery store?
Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD