Fab Five Food Shopping Rules

Grocery shopping can be challenging if you are striving for health.  Here are five rules to follow when filling your cart.

1. Eye on the Ingredients

2. Plenty of Produce

3. Steer Clear of (Stealth) Sugar

4. Don’t Fear Fat

5. Count the Carbs in Your Cart

 

 

The Fab Five Food Shopping Rules:

1. Eye on the Ingredients

Food Rule #7

Everything you need to know about the food you are about to purchase can be learned by reading the ingredients.  I recommend clients avoid words a third grader would have difficulty pronouncing and steer clear of chemical names.  If you don’t recognize an ingredient, neither does your body.  Things like additives, preservatives, food dyes and colorings are harmful to your health.  Eat real and recognizable food, not foods created or tampered with by a laboratory.

2. Plenty of Produce

Fill your cart with tons of produce!  Fresh or frozen are both acceptable but remember to read the ingredients if you opt for frozen.   I recommend buying organic as much as possible, but at the very least buy organic for the dirty dozen. As per the Environmental Working Group, these 12 produce items are most likely to have the highest pesticide residues thus it is strongly recommended to purchase the organic versions.

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I also encourage clients to fill their carts with three times as many vegetables as they do fruits in order to encourage the same dietary pattern on their plates.

3. Steer Clear of (Stealth) Sugar

sugar-spoonSugar is here, there and EVERYWHERE!  The average American eats over 100lbs of sugar per year or 32 teaspoons per day!  Annual sugar consumption is on a steep incline and is directly proportional to the rise in both chronic illness and obesity rates.

To start, avoid sugary beverages, cereals, snacks, desserts and table sugar as this can substantially reduce the amount of sugar you consume.  These sugars are the overt sugars in the diet, but the covert or stealth sugars are where food manufactures really get sneaky!  Unforutnately, just because a food doesn’t taste sweet does NOT mean sugar was not added in the processing of the food.  For example, tomato sauces, peanut butter and even packaged side starches such as rice, stuffing and potatoes have sugar in the ingredients!

To make matters worse, one cannot simply rely on avoiding sugar by looking for the word sugar.  There are 50+ names for sugar!   The best way to avoid sugar is to look at the ingredients and avoid words like honey, syrup, agave nectar, molasses, sugar, cane juice and words ending in “ose” i.e. fructose, dextrose, maltose etc. in at least the first 3 ingredients.  Also don’t substitute fake sugars for real sugars- both are equally harmful.  Avoid synthetic sugars to include: saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose, which are also known as Sweet n Low, Equal and Splenda- see #1 and avoiding chemical names in your foods.

4. Don’t Fear Fat

nutritional-profiling-6-unhealthy-food-ingredients-to-avoid_eIn the early 1980′s “fats” became a four letter word and the low fat and fat free craze began!  Food manufactures started stocking shelves with low fat and fat free choices, and thus the explosion of processed foods.

The body requires fat for various functions in the body and for key nutrients.  Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins thus they require fat for transport and absorption.  When fat is removed from a food to make it low fat or fat free, the manufacturer is also removing fat soluble vitamins as well as other nutrients and adding unwanted ingredients in its place.

To flavor processed food, manufactures really only have three choices: salt, fat and sugar. If the fat is removed from the food, sugar or fake sugar will likely be added in its place.  Confused? Go back to the #1 rule, and read the ingredients.  Chances are if you choose a fat free or low fat food, you are eating a highly processed, chemical laden, poor nutrient quality food.   Buy real and recognizable food, and don’t fear the fat. Fat is not the enemy, #3…sugar is!

5. Count the Carbs in Your Cart

KLO-X-155LIt is estimated that up to 70% of the grocery store is stocked with carbohydrates resulting in most grocery carts at check out reflecting the same percentages.   I encourage my clients to aim for less than 40% of their diet to consist of carbohydrates and often encourage even lower.

It is important to remember that carbohydrates are starches to include sugar, fruits and vegetables.  As per #2, I am not encouraging you to limit your produce, but I do encourage you to count the number of items in your cart that are starches, i.e. breads, rice, pasta, snacks, desserts, potatoes, cereals, grains, and foods that add sugar, rule #3. These items are bought and then eaten in excess and are the main reason for the sharp rise in both obesity and chronic illness over the last several decades.  My recommendation is to limit starchy carbohydrates in your cart, and instead focus on selecting foods that will nourish the body and provide balance in your diet.

 

Ask the RD Jaime

The information provided in this post is for education only and is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor should it be used as a replacement for seeking medical treatment.

Copyright © Jaime Coffey Martinez, MS RD    Nutrition CPR, LLC