Sundays seem to be the most controversial day of the year. Should I relax? Or should I try and pull my life together? Grocery shop? Or order pizza? After a long weekend of wine bottles and burgers you may feel like a reset is in order. Most of us can’t wait to walk away from Whole Foods with a new mindset, and a new diet plan for Monday! Once into the store, however, we freeze and revert back to the same ol’ bread, lunchmeat, chips and occasional apple. What the heck man! This happens all the time, even to me in the past. The store can be overwhelming with thousands of products, pounds of produce and what’s up with the ultra florescent lights? Idk about you but that alone drives me crazy. If you’re for realz about a path to health though, grocery shopping for nourishing ingredients is essential. So I’ve broken it all down for ya! Whether you’re label confused, stuck in sensory overload, or just don’t know what to buy in the produce department…..you’re covered here. Take a look at my 7 tips to help you master healthy shopping.
1.Prepare a Detailed List
Before doing any buying what so ever, it’s important to get a feel for local stores, and make a list. I’m sure as hell guilty of aimlessly wandering aisle to aisle captivated by a sea of food. At the check out I’ve accumulated 20 things I don’t need, can't afford, or will never eat. Thanks a lot Whole Foods!! Doesn’t help you have a freaking sick chocolate aisle. Part of the reason we give into temptation at the grocery store is because we don’t come prepared. First, it’s important to scope out the store BEFORE you actually shop. This is a one-time deal to get the jist of the store and its products. Next, make a list every week. Sure some of us jot down a couple words on a random post-it note, but it may not be organized enough. Then you end up lost looking for almond butter. I have too much experience in this department. One thing that's really changed my shopping trips is the Anylist App. It’s free, whoop whoop! You can make a list of groceries right on your phone and it organizes the contents into categories for ya. Ahh, how nice. If you want more organization, create a section each for fruits, vegetables, spices, nuts, starches, fats, meat and condiments. This will help with meal ideas, and navigate with ease as each category is usually in the same aisle. Also, you can organize by store. It's a game changer. Add a note to each item on the Anylist app and specify which store to buy from. Say goodbye to unorganized trips!
2.Spend 70-80% of Your Time in the Produce Department
If you’re truly looking to improve your health, it all starts in the produce department. The most nutrient dense foods in the world live here, and you can’t go wrong a single one (except corn and soy, but that’s another article). Also fill 70-80% of the cart with the foods in this section. Loading up the basket with fruits and veggies is so exciting! Living food is beautiful, vibrant and having it around will inspire you to eat more of it. Buy as many leafy greens as you want, then work around the color spectrum. If you love a particular fruit or veggie, get it! Don’t deprive yourself of the foods that nurture your very cells. I'm so serious when I say buy as much as you want. That hod bod is craving the vitamins and minerals.
3.Follow the Dirty Dozen/ Clean Fifteen & Buy Organic Meat
This is important. I’m a huge advocate for organic fruits and veggies, but don’t always buy organic. The dirty dozen/clean fifteen is a reference that shows what 12 foods need to be bought organic because of pesticides levels; as well as 15 foods that are mostly clean to buy conventional. The more you follow these guidelines, the less your exposer to pesticides will be. Even if you can’t afford to buy organic, still buy produce as your bulk. Better than resorting to boxed items. To me, organic meat is a must. It’s not an option anymore. Conventional meat is toxic these days, and shouldn’t be consumed for optimal health. Beef is burdened with hormones, andchickens pumped with antibiotics. Lets be real, they’re fed some shitty stuff. Unless you want to consume antibiotic and hormone residue coming from mistreated, GMO grain fed animals…go organic. Heck, go grass-fed and pasture raised. I will do another post on why the two are so different, but it’s so important to our society and health to support the movement toward ethical farming & ranching.
4.Buy Meat in Bulk
This tip has saved me so much time and money over the past year. At Costco, they sell organic chickens whole and in parts, organic hardboiled eggs, organic ground beef and grass-fed bison. Sometimes they have wild caught seafood too. If you spend about $100 on meat from Costco, that will last you probably a month. We stock up on all the organic varieties, keeping it in our freezer and thawing whenever needed. It’s a LIFE SAVER. You will always have quality meat on hand, and meal planning becomes a synch. Go to farmers markets to get in touch with vendors that produce grass-fed/pasture raised meats and poultry if big chains aren't your style. Express you want to buy in bulk and they’ll most likely give you a better price than buying per pound. Ask if they can create an assortment of different cuts for a particular price. They’re willing to negotiate!
5.Read Ingredients First, THEN Nutrition Labels
Don’t get me wrong, macros are important (macros being the amount of fat, carbs, and protein in a food). And I know you’re dying to see how many carbs are in that granola. The real nutrition, however, lies in the ingredients. Most nutritionists recommend not purchasing an item with more than a handful of ingredients. I agree, but it’s the QUALITY of those ingredients that impacts health. Chose products whose ingredients are in whole food form. There’s no room in a healing diet for anything corn, soy, wheat, or grain based. If the ingredient isn’t instantly recognizable, don’t buy it. Avoid cane sugar based sweeteners and opt for honey, organic maple syrup, dates, coconut sugar or palm sugar when looking at treats. Avoid industrial oils such as canola, soybean, vegetable, safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed and peanut. These are highly inflammatory and often turn rancid. If a product has a thickener such as xanthan gum, guar gum or lecithin, proceed with caution. Don’t hesitate to call the company and confirm where the ingredient is sourced. Avoid “natural flavorings” as they are often not natural at all. Good rules of thumb, if you can make it at home, do it and don’t buy it. If the ingredient does not resemble a whole food, run like hell. Your body is worth so much more than junky fillers!
6.Skip the Gluten
Guys, this isn’t a fad. Gluten isn’t something that’s secretly healthy for us while the world is caught up in a trend. Gluten is causing issues in millions of people worldwide. Grains in general are not how they used to be. Genetic modification has stripped wheat, and other grains of nutrients they once had when cultivated. In addition, gluten levels have nearly tripled. Gluten has been found to cause massive inflammation in the nervous system and digestive system leading to chronic illness. The sticky protein attaches to intestinal cilia, and rips them off as digested. Over time, this creates microscopic intestinal holes allowing food particles, pathogens and toxins to cross throughout the body. So do yourself a favor and go gluten free. But don’t go crazy on gluten free products as they are most likely grain based and full of crap! If you do want to buy gluten free products, refer to #5.
7.Become Friendly with Fat.
As previously mentioned, you want to avoid all industrialized and hydrogenated oils (canola, cottonseed, vegetable, soy bean, safflower, sunflower, peanut). But you may be wondering, what’s left? Luckily there are tons of options! Low fat diets can be beneficial for healing, but the majority of us need a good amount of fat from quality sources. Fats should always be organic. ALWAYS. Fat holds on to toxins and chemicals much more so than other foods, and conventional fats run risk of being toxin city. Also make sure it is an unrefined fat, since the refining process often involves chemicals such as hexane and is put under extreme heat. Most fats go rancid under those conditions. Stick to organic unrefined coconut oil, grass-fed ghee (clarified butter), avocado oil, organic extra-virgin olive oil, and organic tallow/ lard. Adding in healthier fats will fuel your metabolic state, and increase brain function.
Got it? I know you do! You’re ready to get to shoppin’ my friend. Finding groceries that fuel the body can be easy with a little planning. Remember to shop organic, go gluten free, and read ingredients lists. Following those three steps alone can drastically impact your health. And if the occasional dark chocolate bar slips in the basket with all those veggies, don’t beat yourself up hun. You deserve it! Happy shopping.