As a chiropractic physician, I have studied nutrition for many years and recognize it to be an integral part of good health. Interestingly, it is one of the least discussed topics in most doctors’ offices. If professionals qualified to discuss nutrition are not consulted for guidance, advertisers are left to fill this void. The problem is, the advertiser’s goal is to market the product and get it sold regardless of the true quality of the product.
So, what can the consumer do to improve their food selections. First you must realize that eating is similar to having a job. Some job tasks are fun and some aren’t, but to “keep the job” you must do some tasks that may not be fun or even pleasant. To “keep your good health” sometimes we need to consume foods that are not fun or even pleasant because our bodies need them to function properly. Don’t be fooled by an absence of pain or other symptoms. The result of poor eating as we continue to age will eventually lead to symptoms and reduce the quality of life. This article will provide you with powerful information to make better food choices in the grocery store. (Disclaimer: If there are Gluten intolerances or food allergies, this article is not taking this into account with the following recommendations. Future articles will address these.)
- Start at the produce area. Vegetables and fruits should be a mainstay in everyone’s nutrition plan. Look for lots of colors of fruit and varieties of vegetables. If organic fits your budget, go for it.
- Move on to the meat and fish department. Look for lean meats. Again, if the budget permits, look for free range, without hormones and antibiotics. Free range does NOT necessarily mean organic. If it doesn’t say organic, it isn’t! If you are not certain, ask the meat manager to help you. Look for wild raised fish. There are fewer contaminants like mercury in wild raised fish. Salmon, flounder, tilapia, mahi-mahi, tuna are all good choices. Try to eat fish about twice a week.
- There is controversy over grain and wheat products. If you like these products and are not suffering from diabetic issues, chronic fatigue, brain fog and your blood work is healthy, I recommend the following choices to include: wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, bulgar, cous-cous, whole grain slow cooked oatment, varieties of beans (be careful of most canned beans-very high in salt) whole grain breads (ex. ezekial), sweet potatoes. Stay away from processed products and white products (ex. white rice, white potatoes, white sugar)
- Dairy is another controversial subject. Again, if you like dairy and don’t suffer from allergies, or stomach and intestinal problems incorporate them in smaller amounts. I am a supporter of greek yogurt (substantially higher protein content than regular yogurt, but be careful of the sugar content.) Remember that harder cheeses have less saturated fat so they are better choices.
- Eggs have been a flip flop issue. First good, then bad, now good again. For people looking to reduce their fat intake, egg whites are pure protein. They make a great omlette to mix with fresh vegetables. Low calorie dish and nutritious. You can also buy egg substitutes for convenience. If you want the whole egg, try to limit them to 6/week. 1 large egg is about 90 calories; 1 large egg white only is about 15 calories.
- Good Fat vs Bad Fat- When you are looking for foods that contain good sources of fat, look for (a) avocados, (b) nuts, (c) seeds, (d) olive oil and coconut oil. Stay away from trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils) which are found in commercial cookies, many biscuits, pastries, fast food products
- Fiber- The average american should consume between 25-35 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is important for intestinal health. Fruits, vegetables, chia, hemp, whole grains are good sources of fiber.
The following list are rules to shop by:
- Buy as much REAL food as possible. These foods have a SHORT shelf life and should have very little to no processing.
- Check the ingredients on packaged foods- (a) you want products with just a few ingredients, (b) low sugar and salt content, (c) avoid artificial coloring and flavoring, (d) if you can’t pronounce it don’t buy it.
- If you know it is unhealthy don’t buy it and keep it in the house. I always say, “if it’s not in the house, you’ll soon have a smaller spouse.” This applies to children as well. The best way to demonstrate your love of a child is by giving them the opportunity to grow up healthy, not predisposing them to disease and suffering. They will follow your example.
- Think QUALITY, not VOLUME. Value shopping can be dangerous. Saving money today on cheaper food will cost you more money in the future on procedures necessary to fix the damage cheap food causes.
- Bring a shopping list. Don’t go up and down every isle
I have attached an example of a product with a list of ingredients that suggest this product does not fit the bill. Look at the number of ingredients and all the preservatives!!
I hope these tips help make your next trip to the grocery healthier and more productive for you and your family.
If you have questions or need help understanding food choices, please ask. For any reader of this article that has changed their food habits with a positive outcome, please share your story and some of your new food choices to help others.