We’ve all entered the grocery store armed with a shopping list and an intention to buy only healthy foods. After all, how can we eat healthy and feel healthy if we buy unhealthy?
Although whole foods are the healthiest choice, we live in the real world. Packaged foods are convenient and cost less, which is why most of us include them on our grocery list. But buying processed foods is not synonymous with unhealthy food. It’s all about being an informed shopper. To that end, we want to share an article to help you navigate the food aisles.
Food labels tell the story
The Reader’s Digest website offers “10 Secrets for Healthier Grocery Shopping.”
- Look for short ingredient lists on packaged foods. Long lists include sugar and chemical additives. Put the long-list items back on the shelf.
- Think twice about “no cholesterol” claims. Cholesterol is found in animal products (milk, meat, etc.). Despite this fact, the packaging on many non-animal products, such as cereals, makes it sound as though the manufacturer made the product cholesterol free for the customer’s benefit.
- Know the meaning of “organic.” A company has to jump through a lot of hoops set up by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before it can use “organic” on its label. Certified organic means a food has been grown free of genetically modified seeds, chemicals made from chemicals or sewage sludge, chemical pesticides or herbicides, and irradiation.
- Be suspicious of “natural” labels. Unlike “organic” companies, those who sell foods under a “natural” label are not subject to inspections as a condition of using the label.
- Be wary of serving size. The “nutrition facts” listed on packaging is often misleading. You need to look at serving size and servings per container to have an accurate picture of calories. While you may think at first a candy bar has 100 calories, careful reading will show “2 servings,” which means the entire candy bar is 200 calories.
- Take a calculator on your shopping trip for an easy way to compare nutrition facts, price per unit, etc.
- Know the “whole” story. Companies want to take advantage of the fact that health-conscious consumers are looking for whole grain products. Read the label to be sure you are buying whole wheat or whole grain.
- When choosing a cereal, rely on your common sense, not the box hype. Look for a whole grain as the first ingredient and one without sugar, if possible. If you prefer a sweetened cereal, it is best if you add the sugar yourself to control the amount.
- Don’t get soaked by watered-down foods. With the exception of soup, you wouldn’t expect water to be the first ingredient on a product’s ingredient list. Yet it is found on many labels, followed by a long list of additives to give it flavor and texture.
- Crack the MSG code. Monosodium glutamate has been identified as causing headaches in some people. If you are concerned about MSG, be aware that it may appear later in an ingredient list, or it may be listed as hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast or sodium caseinate.
Comparison shopping alternative
If you are the type who prefers to do your “leg work” sitting down, you can compare food items online at home or on one of the computers in Meth-Wick’s computer lab. Many product ingredient lists, nutrition facts or actual images of the product package can be found online.
From all of us at Meth-Wick, happy healthy shopping!