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Supermarket Survival Tips

September 20, 2012 –

Today’s post is prompted by a trip to the grocery store. One of the things I learned about a year ago was to ignore the nutritional facts and look at the ingredients on anything that has a label. I eventually look at the nutritional facts, but companies have found really good ways to make that look “good” and then there is list of 20 crazy ingredients.

Today, I was looking for something rather innocent: pickles. My middle son has decided he now wants “circle pickles” on his sandwiches. So, I am looking at the pickles and what is in every jar…High Fructose Corn Syrup. I literally said “Really!?” for all the folks around me to hear. I was so frustrated. It just proved again that I can’t trust anything. Now I did end up finding a pickle without HFCS in the refrigerator section.

But as I went through the aisles, I just thought how frustrating it all is. How may chemicals and processed “food stuff” are most people eating (as I was for most of my life) and they aren’t even aware of it. How many people have ailments and health issues because of stuff that at a minimum our bodies do not know how to process or in many cases is actually toxic to us. I get that we all  love cheap prices and HFCS and other “human derived foods” are cheap and make products cheap.  But it just feels like a tremendous lack of responsibility. Regardless, we cannot be victims and we need to take accountability for what we put in our bodies. We need to take control!

A while back I had written a blog series that was inspired by And in one of those posts, it discussed supermarket secrets. But I wanted to give my own run down of how to stay alert and some rules of thumb I use when I step foot in the grocery store.

1) Shop the perimeters. All the high margin (aka cheaply made) products are in the middle of the store. And the closer to eye level it is, the higher profit it is. Most whole foods are on the edges.

2) Spend 80% of your time in the produce section. The best foods are those that dont need a nutritional label. And buy colors. Red, Green, Purple, Orange, Yellow. Your shopping cart should look like a rainbow of colors!

3) Buy foods that come from the earth and have 1 ingredient: apple, spinach, zucchini, etc

4) Buy organic when you can and focus your money on organic fruits and vegetables where you will be eating the outside. Apples are one of the worst culprits of pesticides. Spend your money on an organic apple or organic zucchini and not so much on organic bananas or organic avocados.

5) As I said above, if you are buying something in box, bag, or package, ALWAYS look at the ingredients first. If you do not know what every ingredient is, be very cautious. If you cannot pronounce the ingredient, be very cautious. For example, if you buy Peanut Butter, then it should really just have peanuts. There is no need for Palm Oil and all sorts of other stuff.

6) Think Whole. You want all your foods to be as close to whole foods as possible. And if you are not going to buy fresh produce, pick frozen over canned. If you need mushrooms, buy fresh whole mushrooms! We had bought some mushrooms in a can. Each very small can had over 300mg of sodium! If you are going to buy cheese, buy a brick and shred it yourself. Don’t buy the pre-shredded. And by the way, you will save money!

7) Don’t walk down every aisle. You don’t even need to walk down the soda and chip aisle. By the way, notice how many choices there are in those two aisles? Can you tell where the profit comes from?

8) Ignore All Marketing! Ignore “All Natural”, “No HFCS”, “Fat Free”, “50% Less calories” and every other thing. I am serious! They do not have your health as their primary (or even secondary or tertiary) interest. Read the ingredients!

9) Have a plan! Make a list and stick to it! Don’t buy what you don’t need!

10) Lastly, look at food as fuel. If you want your body to run like a race car, it needs 100 octane gas.Ask yourself before you put something in your cart, “Is this food going to fuel me and make me healthier?” It may sound extreme, but to change our habits, we have to embrace a new discipline. Only then will we stop being victims and start thriving from the foods we buy at the supermarket.

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