Last week, we blogged about someone who’s reading our book Eat to Save Your Life; he’s discovered that his family isn’t eating quite as healthfully as they thought. Like so many, they’ve really worked at living a healthy lifestyle, but they’ve fallen prey to all the misinformation out there. He wished we could go shopping together. Since he’s in California and we’re in Canada, shopping together might be a little out of the question, so we decided to offer up a Three-Step Shopping Plan to help him and everyone else save their lives at the grocery store.
Last week, we blogged about Step 1: Before you Shop (looking at foods in your cupboards and making a plan before hitting the grocery store). This week, if you’ve done the little bit of homework required in the first step, we’re ready to actually go grocery shopping.
We call it Step 2: When you shop
Now that you’ve done a little review of the foods in your fridge and pantry and discovered a few key principles, here are a few things to do when you actually go to the grocery store:
- Give yourself time to read labels and make decisions as you make the switch to foods that may be a little unfamiliar to you. You can’t just rush in and rush out and hope to successfully find some new and exciting things to eat. Give yourself about an hour and a half (maybe leave the kids with a babysitter), so you have enough time to think, read labels, and make decisions. Don’t fret. You’ll soon become familiar with your new choices so you can pick them off the shelf with ease and shorten your shopping time to the usual. For the first few shopping trips, though, take your time.
- Replace those rancid oils that you discarded last week with healthy oils. Think:
- flaxseed oil (cold pressed, sold in dark bottles, and kept cold in the store)
- coconut oil (Jerre’s favorite)
- extra-virgin olive oil (not virgin or pure olive oil—they’re too inferior)
- maybe some slightly more exotic oils such as macadamia nut oil or grape seed oil
You may have to visit your local health food store to get oils that are sold in dark bottles and that have been kept cold. When you get them home, store your oils (except heat-stable coconut oil and olive oil) in the fridge. Not sure why? Read more in Chapters 6 and 7 of Eat to Save Your Life.
- As much as possible, avoid processed foods. (Cellophane is a good tip-off that something should be left on the shelf.) Focus on fresh food, instead. If you stick mostly to the outside perimeter of the store, you’ll find fresh food there and avoid the processed stuff. If you venture into the center aisles of the store, zip in for things like bath tissue, but don’t linger in the packaged foods aisles in case the junk food gremlins grab your ankles.
- Except as a very rare treat, absolutely avoid: fried anything (including potato chips), refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, white rice, sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate (frequently used in processed meats and meat products), artificial colors and flavors, and too much salt. What’s the problem? Well, these foods and food additives create an inflammatory response in the body and are proven links to degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and many more.
- Don’t let the bread aisle get you down. Once you start reading labels and eliminating enriched flour, sugars, and additives, you’ll soon discover many grocery store breads (including those sold as “healthy”) just aren’t worth eating. In fact, you might be better off eating the bag. After reading one disappointing label after another (sometimes accosting surprised fellow-shoppers with a frustrated “Do you believe it?” and an on-the-spot and completely unsolicited lesson on label-reading), we abandoned the bread aisle at our local grocery store long ago. Instead, we found a wonderful certified organic bakery that uses stoneground (not refined), certified organic, whole grains to make its dense, nutrient-rich, and delicious breads. You may have to do the same—or take up bread making.
- Buy certified organic produce whenever you can. If you can’t find or can’t afford certified organic everything, at least buy any fruits or veggies on your Dirty Dozen list in the certified organic section. This will help cut down on the amounts of pesticides and herbicides you’re ingesting. Not sure what the Dirty Dozen list is? See last week’s blog.
- Buy locally-g
rown food whenever you can because long periods of transit and storage deplete nutrients (which manifests as lost flavor). The typical apple is trucked 1500 miles from orchard to grocery store, but we all know that an apple picked fresh from the tree has a much higher yummy factor—and that yum equals better nutrition.
- In the wintertime, if fresh local produce isn’t available, consider frozen before canned. Also consider the benefits of fresh vs. frozen. If produce is travelling a long, nutrient-depleting distance to your grocery store, frozen produce may offer a better nutritional bang for your buck. For certified organic frozen produce, you may have to visit your local health food store or certified organic market.
- Look for certified organic free range (not free run) eggs and poultry, sustainably caught fresh fish from deep ocean waters (not from lakes and streams due to toxins in shallower waters), and certified organic meat and dairy products. If you eat red meat, don’t just eat beef; consider lamb and goat as well as game such as elk, venison, and bison. If you eat dairy products, look for milk, yogurt, and cheese from sheep or goats.
- Approach certified organic products in cans and packages with caution. Many of them contain even more salt than their conventional counterparts and should be used sparingly, if at all. You might consider making your own soups and broths at home. Here’s a grocery list for tasty chicken broth:
- 500 gm (1 pound) chicken necks and backs
- three or four large carrots
- two or three stalks of celery
- one large onion
- bay leaves
Next week, we’ll include a complete recipe in our blog, so you can Wow! your family with homemade chicken noodle soup or any soup that requires a yummy chicken broth as a base.
As much as you can, avoid foods containing the mystery ingredients you researched last week. We realize it will take some time to get rid of them all, but choose a couple of the real bad actors, and leave them behind.
This probably sounds like a lot, and it will be at first. You’ll get onto, it though, and shopping for healthier foods will become familiar and easy.
And here’s one more tip—perhaps the most important of them all: Treat your shopping trip as a little adventure (because it is). There are new things to discover and new tastes to try. Do it! Embrace it! With the right attitude, you can have a little adventure-vacation right in the grocery aisle.
Here’s to your next grocery adventure,
Gloria and Jerre