Going to the grocery store was the hardest thing I did after reading my first health book, The Cure by Timothy Brantley. I literally cried at the door. I honestly didn’t know what I was “allowed” to buy as we embarked on this new lifestyle. I know you must know my pain. Since then, I’ve kept researching and learning, and shopping is quicker and not hard at all. Every now and then, I’ll learn something new and it changes my direction in the store.
My hope with this blog and with talking with you is to take the sting out of that first shopping trip. If you go into the store with some of these tips, you will feel empowered..not hopeless like I felt.
General Shopping Tips:
1. Shop the outer isles of the store. This is where the fresh and frozen items are. Anything in the middle of the store has been either incredibly processed or processed to some degree, lessening it’s nutritional value.
2. Look for items with 5 ingredients or less.
3. Look for ingredients that you can pronounce!
4. Buy real food as much as possible. Consider the Dirty Dozen chart.
5. Only buy things that will rot.
What does it mean?
USDA Organic. At least 95% free of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, bioengineering and chemical fertilizers.
GM-Free. Free of genetically-modified ingredients.
Made with Organic Ingredients. At least 70% pure of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, bioengineering and chemical fertilizers.
All-Natural. Doesn’t contain synthetic or artificial ingredients (flavors, colors, chemical preservatives). With the exception of USDA-approved meat and poultry, there is no organization to verify this manufacturer’s claim.
Free-range. Poultry that has “access” to the outside, per the USDA. No guarantee of lower salmonella rates or that they have freedom to roam.
Certified Humane. Raised humanely with ample space, shelter, fresh water and feed with no added hormones or antibiotics from birth through slaughter (that part’s not so humane).
Grass-Fed. Pasture-raised and free-roaming rather than fed at high-grain feed lots with higher pesticide and saturated fat rates. Certified organic beef is more often than not grain fed unless specified as grass-fed.
Cage-Free. All that the name implies, a better guarantee of healthy conditions than the label free-range.
Hormone-Free. Mostly relating to dairy products produced without the synthetic hormone (rBGH), linked by some to health problems.
Tips for reading ingredients labels:
This list is directly from NaturalNews.com. I am not a certified nutritionalist yet, and don’t claim to know everything or practice all of the tips, so I wanted to quote him directly because his words are so perfectly informative! The whole article is great, take some time to read it next!
1. Remember that ingredients are listed in order of their proportion in the product. This means the first 3 ingredients matter far more than anything else. The top 3 ingredients are what you’re primarily eating.
2. If the ingredients list contains long, chemical-sounding words that you can’t pronounce, avoid that item. It likely does contain various toxic chemicals. Why would you want to eat them? Stick with ingredients you recognize.
3. Don’t be fooled by fancy-sounding herbs or other ingredients that appear very far down the list. Some food manufacturer that includes “goji berries” towards the end of the list is probably just using it as a marketing gimmick on the label. The actual amount of goji berries in the product is likely miniscule.
4. Remember that ingredients lists don’t have to list chemical contaminants. Foods can be contaminated with pesticides, solvents, acrylamides, PFOA, perchlorate (rocket fuel) and other toxic chemicals without needing to list them at all. The best way to minimize your ingestion of toxic chemicals is to buy organic, or go with fresh, minimally-processed foods.
5. Look for words like “sprouted” or “raw” to indicate higher-quality natural foods. Sprouted grains and seeds are far healthier than non-sprouted. Raw ingredients are generally healthier than processed or cooked. Whole grains are healthier than “enriched” grains.
6. Don’t be fooled by the word “wheat” when it comes to flour. All flour derived from wheat can be called “wheat flour,” even if it is processed, bleached and stripped of its nutrition. Only “whole grain wheat flour” is a healthful form of wheat flour. (Many consumers mistakenly believe that “wheat flour” products are whole grain products. In fact, this is not true. Food manufacturers fool consumers with this trick.)
7. Don’t be fooled into thinking that brown products are healthier than white products. Brown sugar is a gimmick — it’s just white sugar with brown coloring and flavoring added. Brown eggs are no different than white eggs (except for the fact that their shells appear brown). Brown bread may be no healthier than white bread, either, unless it’s made with whole grains. Don’t be tricked by “brown” foods. These are just gimmicks used by food giants to fool consumers into paying more for manufactured food products.
8. Watch out for deceptively small serving sizes. Food manufacturers use this trick to reduce the number of calories, grams of sugar or grams of fat believed to be in the food by consumers. Many serving sizes are arbitrary and have no basis in reality.
9. Want to know how to really shop for foods? Download our free Honest Food Guide, the honest reference to foods that has now been downloaded by over 800,000 people. It’s a replacement for the USDA’s highly corrupt and manipulated Food Guide Pyramid, which is little more than a marketing document for the dairy industry and big food corporations. The Honest Food Guide is an independent, nutritionally-sound reference document that reveals exactly what to eat (and what to avoid) to maximize your health.
1. Real foods
2. Sugar-less or low sugar
5. Plant based
Do your own processing
I know it’s the last thing you really “want” to do, but I’ve really started to enjoy this process. We’ve recently bought a dehydrator online. They are relatively inexpensive if you get one like we got. I’m sure you can end up spending a ton of money on them, but for us, we just started out with the Nesco.
To steer clear of the processed food isles, we started making our own trail mix, granola, smoothies, juices, dried fruits, fruit leathers, crackers, etc. I don’t always do this, there are some processed items we just can’t live without, such as my Pomi box of chopped tomatoes or our Almond milk. Maybe down the road I’ll start canning and making our own almond milk… but that’s not happened here yet!
4 Kitchen Appliances I can’t live without
1. VitaMix, get yours with free shipping! This powerhouse blender is not just a blender.. in this one appliance, you can make ice cream, soup, nut butters, fresh flours, milks (coconut, almond, soy), sauces & chutneys… all from natural ingredients and without preservatives and additives!! It’s AMAZING!
2. Food Processor. I know my VitaMix can do all that a food processor can do, but sometimes, the wider bottom of a food processor is helpful for mixing
3. Dehydrator. We have loved making raw crackers, raw fruit leathers, dried fruits, and veggie chips!! So simple and with little preparation time. It does all the work for you over-night!!
4. Juicer. Again, the VitaMix juices everything to the cellular level, but my husband and I like the consistency of a juice, so we purchased a L’Equip Juicer that was relatively inexpensive, and works GREAT. I like the site www.discountjuicers.com. He gives a ton of videos comparing basically all juicers out there breaking down their effectiveness and cost.
I hope this gives you a little peace of mind the next time you go to the grocery store. During the right seasons, enjoy your farmers’ markets! You can do this!! It may seem costly, but your health is worth it in the long run!