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How to Shop, Part 1

Posted: February 22, 2006

You’ve made a promise to yourself to start eating right. You know you need more protein, less starch, and lots of fruits & greens, and it’s time to go shopping. But what do you buy when you get there? Here are some quick guidelines to follow.

This week, let’s look at what NOT to put in your cart. Most frozen, prepared foods have too much sodium—anything over 300mg is way too much. Be careful–you’ve got to read the label.

Next, don’t buy anything that doesn’t say “Trans Fat 0g”. Trans Fats are found in hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, and you would not believe how prevalent these are. Directly linked to the epidemic of heart disease and high cholesterol today, the government is now making them put it on the label. Trans Fats can’t be absorbed by the body. Instead, your body coats them with bad cholesterol and hides them in your arteries! Yikes!

Stop buying whole milk and other whole fat dairy products. Drink skim milk or 1% instead. Go with 2% if you have to, but try to choose the low fat dairy option.

This one might hurt a bit, but you’ve got to stop the pop. Your body needs more water. When you drink anything else, your body wastes time and energy removing anything from it that wasn’t water. Drink flavored water or tea if you have to. If you’re eating right, you won’t need it the quick pick-me-up you’re getting from pop.

Next, do NOT put any white bread, or white hotdog or hamburger buns in your cart. They have no nutritional value, and act just like sugar in your body. And speaking of sugar—don’t buy sugar substitutes—they’re not natural, and the jury’s still out on them. The most popular brand right now is actually cholorinated sugar! Double Yikes. Use honey, molasses, or … real sugar if you have to.

Now we come to junk foods. There’s good junk, and bad junk. If you have to snack, make it good junk. Or even better, no junk.

Fruits, low fat yogurts and cottage cheese, some puddings and jellos, granola bars, nuts, cheese, low fat frozen yogurts, are all better choices than your typical junk foods. Not all chips are created equal, either. Make sure they have zero Trans Fats. Buy smaller bags or better yet, single servings. Even better—make your own muffins to munch on instead of those pastries!
Remember, junk foods are basically sugar. They give you a quick buzz, and satisfy your sweet tooth, but offer little or no nutritional value in return. Stay away from these. If you’re eating quality foods throughout the day, you won’t have to have them. This doesn’t mean you can’t have your chocolate once in awhile, or some crunchy cookies (my arch nemesis)—just make them occasional. Next week—we’ll take a look at what you CAN put in your cart. And like my cutie pie tells me—“It’s a healthy snack with no Trans Fats, Papaw!”