Healthy Shopping List
The most important thing you can have when beginning a new way of eating is a healthy shopping list. You may be used to purchasing frozen meals and canned and packaged foods, but that’s about to change. Here are some ways that you can enjoy this new healthy shopping experience and to really shop for your health.
If you are not used to spending most of your shopping time choosing fresh foods, then start your new health regimen by taking a tour of the produce aisles and notice the different types of vegetables and fruits that are available. Look for the different colors and types of vegetables to use in your meal planning. The key to your health is to eat as many colors as you can each day. Also, look for the vegetables that are labeled “organically grown.” The rest that are not labeled “organically grown” are considered to be conventionally grown.
The difference between organically grown foods and conventionally grown foods is that those not labeled “organically grown” have been sprayed with pesticides. You will want to consider purchasing vegetables that are not laden with pesticides. It would be great if most of your purchases are organically grown. But, if you find that your store doesn’t carry organically grown foods, then make certain that you wash your vegetables before steaming or serving them. You can use a fruit and vegetable wash or 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract in a quart of water.
If you don’t want to purchase all of your vegetables from organic farmers, then purchase the organic versions of those foods that are most likely to be contaminated with pesticides both inside and out. You will notice the designation of organic next to those vegetables that should be purchased organic. Eat at least seven servings (½ cup) of vegetables each day.
At the top of the Healthy Shopping List are Green Leafy Crunchy Vegetables
Green Leaf Lettuce (organic)
Red Leaf Lettuce (organic)
Romaine Lettuce (organic)
Butter Lettuce (organic)
Bell peppers: red, yellow, orange
Bok choy (organic) (green bell peppers are not ripe)
Squash (zucchini, yellow, summer, butternut)
Fruits and Your Healthy Shopping List
When purchasing fruits, choose those that are in season and organically grown as well. Most of the berries are contaminated with pesticides both within the core of the fruit as well as the outer part. Look for the different colors, as each color indicates different nutrients. All fruits are high in antioxidants which are needed to neutralize inflammation and free radicals. Red fruits contain more lycopene (great for prostate cancer prevention), orange fruits contain more carotenes (great for eye health), and the berries are high in antioxidants. Eat at least two servings of fresh fruit each day.
Banana Honeydew melon
Strawberries (organic) Apples
Plan your meals for the week ahead of time and make a healthy shopping list of the foods you will need. Stick to that healthy shopping list, so that you don’t fill your cart with unnecessary foods. Feed yourself and your children before going to the grocery store and all of you will be less likely to ask for “junk” foods.
When purchasing cereals, look on the labels for the sugar, carbohydrate, and fiber content. There should be no added sugar and at least 4 to 6 grams of fiber per serving.You will also want to notice if there are any food additives such as food dyes and chemicals. If you cannot recognize an ingredient, you should suspect that it is a chemical. Many cereals are also made from refined grains which are stripped of their nutrients. Corn flakes and puffed rice cereals are notoriously low in nutrients, which have to be synthetically added to the package.
Choose cereals that contain 100 percent whole grains and that contain no added sugar. It is so easy to add fresh fruit, xylitol, or a small amount of honey as a sweetener. A great idea for boosting the nutrients and health promoting properties of a breakfast is to also add some raw nuts such as almonds and walnuts to the cereal, pour organic milk (or coconut milk, if dairy sensitive) over it, and add fresh fruit. Serving a couple of organic eggs along with the cereal will make it a complete meal.
****Many gluten-free cereals are notoriously low in fiber and nutrients as they may still be highly processed. Choose gluten-free rolled oats and high fiber cereals that contain rice bran, quinoa, or buckwheat.
Choose whole grains first instead of either breads or cereals! The whole grains contain the fiber and nutrients that really promote health. Emphasize brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat as they are gluten-free. You can also find gluten-free oats. Brown rice can be prepared the day before and eaten for breakfast in the morning. Just steam a cupful and serve with blueberries, pecans, and coconut milk. Add two poached eggs and you have a nutritious and delicious breakfast!
Packaged and Processed Foods – Become a Label Reader!
The bulk of the grocery store contains aisle after aisle of packaged foods that will never be on your healthy shopping list. We have become a nation of packaged food consumers. We have come to think of packaged and processed foods as “real” food. The reality is that packaged foods contain very little real food. If you read the labels of packaged foods, you will see that the list of ingredients indicates very few nutrients and are full of chemical food additives, dyes, and preservatives.
Canned Foods Are Not Big Contenders on the Healthy Shopping List
Most canned foods contained cooked foods that are preserved to last for a long time on grocery store shelves and in your cupboard. They are placed into cans that contain metals and plastics. The metals and plastics can leech into the foods as they are sitting on the store shelves because of the chemical reaction between the foods and the containers. After the cooking and processing of the foods, there are less nutrients available for promoting health. The nutrients in foods that are heated are more likely to degrade and since canning is done at high temperature and takes a long time to prepare, there will be changes in the texture, color, and flavor of the foods.
With that said, purchase sparingly most canned foods. Some foods may only be found canned and available all year around in some areas, such as tuna (look for the water packed variety with no food additives), canned meats such as chicken (look for those with no food additives), tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, and spaghetti sauce (look for the organic varieties), as well as olives.
There is such a dizzying variety of breads to be found. Many are made with highly processed flour – white bread, sourdough bread, bagels. Fortunately, there are many varieties that contain whole grains. The key is to look for the labels that indicate that the bread is made from 100 percent whole grains, not whole grains or whole grain ingredients.
You will want to read the label to notice if the bread contains many chemicals such as dough conditioner (sodium stearoyl lactylates, calcium peroxide) food dyes, preservatives such as calcium proprionate, and sugars such as high fructose corn syrup along with soy or corn oil.
Some tip-offs that even though the bread is advertised as a whole grain product, it is not really made from 100 percent whole grains: Unbleached enriched flour, whole wheat, malted barley flour, B vitamin fortified, whole wheat flour, whole brown rice flour.
This is what a 100 percent whole grain bread label should read: 100 percent whole grain wheat, rolled oats, yeast, flaxseeds with no additives, dough conditioners, high fructose corn syrup, soy oil, or any other variety of 100 percent whole grain ingredients.
***** For gluten-free selections, most breads are low in fiber and contain processed flours such as from rice, corn, sorghum, oats, millet, and corn. Please check the label and choose only those with the best nutrient profile. Use gluten-free breads only occasionally. Better yet, choose some of the large crackers made from seeds and nuts. You can easily spread nut butters and layer tomatoes, onions, and deli turkey slices.
Frozen Foods and Your Healthy Shopping List
Convenience is the word you consider when walking down the frozen food aisles.
There is every type of food available in those frozen food cases. There isn’t one of us who hasn’t served our families a frozen food dinner or used frozen vegetables or fruits. Freezing a food can stop microbial growth in the foods, as well as preserve its nutrient content and flavor. But, if the food is processed prior to freezing and packaging, there will be some deterioration of nutrients and some denaturing of foods.
Proteins: There is little change in the nutritive value of proteins after freezing, but the protein is denatured. This makes it unstable, especially with repeated freezing and thawing.
Fats: Deterioration of fats and oils occurs in frozen foods due to oxidation which causes rancidity. Fats in frozen fish tend to become rancid more quickly. Meat fats can become rancid after six months of freezing.Vitamins: If the frozen food undergoes some processing, vitamins will be lost. Vitamin C losses occur naturally when food is exposed to air. But during storage the Vitamin C will continue to be lost. Greater losses occur with Vitamin C in frozen food than with any other vitamin.
If you are considering the purchase of a frozen food meal, then as you read the label you may find the meal loaded with preservatives and other chemicals. But, if your primary meals are frozen food meals then you are not getting all of the nutrients that you need to stay healthy. If you are combining frozen food meals with packaged meals then your diet will be devoid of fresh foods. Even if you only have one frozen food meal a day, you will still be missing out on many of the nutrients needed for your health.
For the most part, beverages are not part of your healthy shopping list. The beverage aisles contain such a variety of fluids many of which hold the promise of empty calories. Fruit juice, sodas, vitamin filled water, teas, alcohol, and water. We all need to drink water and the convenience of bottled water can’t be beat! Unfortunately, most water is bottled in plastic containers which contain hazardous chemicals such as BPA and polyvinyl-chloride. In addition, bottled water may still contain contaminants as the laws governing bottled water are not as stringent as those for tap water. Fruit juice and sodas are full of calories from fructose sugar and high fructose corn syrup. It is better to eat fresh fruit and drink water.
Nuts and Seeds
Every healthy diet should contain nuts and seeds. It is best to buy farm fresh, raw nuts and seeds. Farmer’s markets are good sources for these valuable foods. Most of the nuts and seeds are heated and processed either dry roasted or heated with rancid oils. It is also good to purchase organic forms of nuts and seeds as they can be highly contaminated with pesticides. Eat up to two servings per day of raw nuts and seeds – almonds, pecans, cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Molds and Spoilage
Molds are everywhere. They are in our soil, air, water, and food. Molds are used in manufacturing many foods such as cheeses, soy sauce, miso, and tempeh. Molds can grow on breads, fruits, vegetables, starchy foods, grains, and nuts. Some molds are very toxic. Grains and nuts are particularly prone to toxic mold. Peanuts are especially prone to aflatoxins, which are highly poisonous. Because of their fat content, nuts are particularly prone to spoilage and rancidity.