Just as an introduction, shopping and eating well may be a really tough adjustment. It’s totally counter-cultural, and a little more work. Once you start doing it, though, you’ll retrain your body and mind to want the good stuff, and not even look at the other stuff as food. Stick with it, it’s worth it!
1. Shop the perimeters at the grocery store. Most of the processed foods are contained in the aisles. The perimeter is produce, dairy, meat, and bread. This is the food you need. Most of that stuff in the middle you don’t need. At all. Everrrrrr.
2. Read labels. Having said that, you still need some items that may be in the aisles. Just make sure when you are picking something up, you read the labels. If it looks mostly chemical, don’t get it. If it ever contains high fructose corn syrup or anything hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, DO NOT BUY! Not only will these things counteract weight loss efforts, but they’ve been proven in labs to really break down your health. Be aware of the calorie content, and follow serving sizes, even if they sound ridiculous at first. If you are able, get natural or organic products. They really are more nutritionally dense.
3. Again with the organic! Organic may seem like a fad. But it turns out that while conventional foods contain the same nutrients, the organic food contain more. It’s because the soil products are grown on haven’t been chemically neutered by pesticides, so the food absorbs a whole lot more nutrients, because the ground actually contains them. Like it should. That’s the facts, man. Whenever possible, reach for the organic product rather than the other. Even if it costs a little more at times, it is truly an investment in your health. More and more grocery stores are offering organic now, too, which makes this choice a whole lot easier.
4. What to buy. When you look at your plate, it should be about half to one-third fresh produce, cooked or raw, about one-third meat, and a little bit of starch or carbs. You don’t always have to have meat, you don’t always have to have carbs. But the fruit/ veggies should be there. Considering that…
5. Produce. So, covered buying organic. If you want to save some money and get something that tastes good, buy produce that’s in season. It’s always going to be cheaper. Here’s a link that will tell you what’s in season for Arizona: http://www.simplesteps.org/eat-local/state/arizona.
6. Meat and dairy. You don’t have to get too fancy here. Choose leaner cuts of meat. Again, here’s a friendly, helpful link to a list of lean meats: http://www.ehow.com/list_5831089_list-lean-cuts-meat.html. Choose meats and dairy products that are hormone-free (RBST) and natural. Grass-fed red meat and dairy, organic chicken and eggs, and wild caught fish will be the purest and most nutrient-dense sources to choose from. Again, this option is becoming increasingly more available. Spring for the good stuff, just eat less of it. You can do this on a budget, I promise.
7. Bread and pasta. Whole grains are the way to go on this. Also, for pasta you can choose rice pasta, which pretty much tastes and feels like regular pasta. Please, avoid anything that’s been “enriched.” You’re not getting something better for you,; you’re actually getting a product that’s been stripped of its good stuff and replaced with a few synthetic nutrients. Your body doesn’t like it.
8. Last one…variety. Don’t get stuck eating the same things all the time. If you’re looking to improve your health and eating habits, switch it up. Healthy food is good, and you should enjoy it. Also, by not eating the same things everyday you are introducing a much wider variety of nutrients, and giving your body a break from the onslaught of only one kind, which can actually backfire and cause problems in your body. Eating by season and being aware of what you’ve been putting in are two great tools to help with this. Also, your plate should look colorful. If it’s not, you might not have enough variety on it.