Grocery Store Guide
Sometimes it seems like we need an advanced degree in chemistry to navigate the grocery store! 
That's messed up.

Shopping for food should be simple and rewarding, not confusing and frustrating.

Here is your guide to reading past the marketing and nutrition labels and filling your cart with 

good, healthy food.

Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping
    Stick to the perimeter of the store, in the cold sections. That’s where the fresh food is!
    Be wary of food in packages; if it lasts longer than a week or so, it’s likely full of preservatives, sugar, and artificial ingredients that can make it difficult to lose weight because of their addictive nature.
    Read ingredient labels before the nutrition facts label. Look for foods with fewer than five ingredients, all of them identifiable as actual foods. 
    Remember: the goal of a grocery store is to sell food, not make you healthier. Make a list, stick to it, and get smart about food marketing messages!

Food Packages Decoded

Buyer Beware! Here’s what those marketing messages in the bread aisle really mean.

Marketing Term
What it Means
This is a tip-off that something bad was done to the food, requiring another process to put some of the good stuff back in.

“100% Wheat”
It doesn’t specify that it is whole wheat.  It could have some whole wheat, or none.

No mention of whether they are whole grains. Doesn’t matter how many grains there are if they are all refined or bleached.  Skip it.

“Whole Grain”
It may be a blend of grains, it must say “100% Whole Grain”

See “multigrain”

“Supports Heart Health”
Look for “may reduce the risk of…” which means that it has ingredients that have been clinically shown to be effective in reducing a health risk.

Everyone wants to eat food that's pure. You would not want to put contaminated food into your body. But "pure" has no regulated, agreed- upon meaning in food labeling. It tells you nothing about what's in the package that perhaps should not be there.
While the term "natural" sounds appealing, it really says little about the nutritional quality of the food, or even its safety. In reality, "natural" is empty of nutritional meaning. Consumers believe that "natural" means the food is pretty much as Mother Nature grew it, but this is seldom the case. And even then, "natural" is not the same as nutritious, or good for you. The fat marbling in a New York strip steak is "natural," but it's not good for your arteries.

“Made From…” or “Made With…”
This simply means the food started with this product. For example, the claim "made from 100 % corn oil" may be technically correct, yet it is misleading. Consumers are led to believe they are eating 100 % corn oil, but a lot can happen to corn oil before it gets to the grocery store. The label really means the processor started with 100% corn oil, but along the way may have diluted or hydrogenated it, changing it into a fat that will clog your arteries, not one that flows free and golden.

“Made with natural….”
This simply means the manufacturer started with a natural source, but by the time the food was processed it may be anything but "natural."

Healthy Heather’s Advice: Get a bread machine and bake your own bread. It doesn’t take much time, tastes delicious, and is much better for you!

Eco-labeling is the practice of food companies of creating packaging designed to convince you that the food inside is healthy, organic, all-natural, or possessing health benefits.

Look for these eco-labeling buzz words at the store and be a more informed shopper:

Eco-Label: Organic
Savvy Shopper Should: Look for the seal.

For a product to be certified as organic, it must meet the following criteria: 
·       meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given antibiotics or growth hormones. 
·       food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. 
·       a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.
There are three categories of organic labels:
·       100% Organic: made with 100% organic ingredients.
·       Organic: made with at least 95% organic ingredients.
·       Made with Organic Ingredients: at least 70% organic ingredients are used, and the remaining 30% must be free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

Only those products with at least 95% organic ingredients can carry the Certified Organic seal.

Eco-Label: “All-natural”
Savvy Shopper Should: Read the label for the company’s definition of “natural.”
"All-natural" means that the product does not contain any artificial ingredients, colors, chemical preservatives, and is minimally processed. But, the definition of "minimal" is up to the discretion of the producer, who should explain what they mean on the label. Read the label to decide if it meets your personal standards.

Eco-Label: Certified Humane
Savvy Shopper Should: Follow your heart.
“Certified Humane” means that the animals used to produce that food have ample space, shelter and gentle handling to limit stress, have access to ample fresh water and a healthy diet of quality feed, and are not given antibiotics or hormones. Animals may not be caged or tied, and must be free to live a natural, instinctive life.  For example, chickens should have room and freedom to flap their wings and pigs should be give the space, time, and opportunity to move around and root.

Eco-Label: Free-Range
Savvy Shopper Should: Proceed with caution.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), free-range or free-roaming means that "producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside." However, the USDA only requires that animals receive five minutes of open-air access, and the living standards for these animals are largely left up to the individual farmer. If free-range status is important to you, consider buying dairy and meat products from a local farmer who maintains standards that meet your approval.
Healthy Heather’s Clean Eating Shopping List
Here’s my personal shopping list and some recommendations for brands that are consistently healthy and produced in a sustainable way. I’m not perfect, but I am commited to making progress!

Produce – get whatever looks good to you!
Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Red onions

Lean Meats/Poultry
Grass-fed ground beef
Applegate Farms bacon
Hormone-free chicken breasts
Grass-fed ground bison

All-natural feta or gorgonzola cheese
Plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt (I like Stonyfield Farms, Chobani, Oikos, and Dannon)
         Healthy Heather Tip: Choose plain and unsweetened to avoid sugar, and add                                          frozen blueberries and raw (not roasted) sunflower seeds for a sweet treat!
Organic reduced-fat milk
Cage-free eggs

Dry, bagged beans and rice
Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
Ronzoni or Hodgson Mills whole wheat pasta

For the Kiddos
Annie’s Homegrown Macaroni and Cheese (made with organic whole wheat pasta).
Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Grahams, Whole Wheat Bunnies, or Cheese Bunnies
Late July Organic Peanut Butter Crackers, “Ritz-style” crackers, etc.

Salad Dressings/Sauces if you must
Annie’s Naturals
Brianna’s Homestyle
Or make your own olive oil and vinegar dressing!

Frozen Stuff
Any frozen veggies but watch for added salt and buy plain vegetables (no sauces!)
Ian’s All Naturals makes some great frozen sweet potato “fries”
Food for Life Ezekiel Bread

Boar’s Head for lunchmeat and cheese
Look for “nitrate free” and no added sugar

Refrigerated Baked Goods
Look for Immaculate Baking Company products at Publix, Fresh Market, and Earth Fare. Cookies, biscuits, scones, and rolls made without partially hydrogenated vegetable oil!

Where's the Bread?
Sigh. Bread. I take issue with so much store-bought bread that I have a hard time recommending any of them. Get a breadmaker and start baking homemade bread. Its delicious and better for you! Here's why I want to cry when I go into the bread aisle:

1 comment:

kimvan said...

I read an article recently that mentioned some Boar's Head products have MSG. I don't know if it is true but it kind of bummed me out. :(