Food labels beaming with "fat-free," "fortified with Omega-3" and "100 calories" do not automatically translate to "healthy." This is a common pitfall that people (including myself) have fallen into at one time or another. Sneaky advertisers; they're good at what they do, and make consumers (us) believe a product will benefit your health when, in fact, it will not. Most of these claims are completely bogus.
The quality nutrients best absorbed and utilized by the body are those found in whole-food sources. Try to slowly eliminate processed foods from your diet. Notice your energy levels rise and watch the number on the scale drop.
Print out my LivFit grab-and-go grocery guide* the next time you make a trip to the store. Hopefully, it will help you make healthier choices in midst of temptation.
Grocery shopping tips:
1. As a general rule of thumb, shop the perimeter — not the aisles. The aisles are a trap for pre-packaged foods, ingredients you can’t pronounce, man-made junk and nutrition without a shelf life (weird, you’re eating something that never goes bad. Seems legit? No.) Try to avoid the aisles. Obviously you can’t do this for everything, but the majority of foods should come from the perimeter of the store which is the food preserved by a fridge, cooler or freezer.
2. BEWARE: Do NOT go grocery shopping hungry. You’ll end up buying things that you don’t need and eating all of the samples being handed out (if you’re like me, you pretend like your “sister/brother/mother” wants a sample too—feeling the need to explain yourself to the sample lady—and get two.)
3. Labels are misleading. Foods labeled as “low-fat,” “fat-free,” “lower your risk of…” and a “good source of…” doesn’t make a food healthy for you. Be cautious when buying these items. Generally speaking, if the fat is taken out of a food, something else (sodium, artificial flavors, etc.) is added to make it taste good.
4. Look for deals at the grocery store. Go generic verses name brand when you can. Be an extreme couponer (who cares anyway? You’re a college kid trying to save money.) When buying in bulk,—I shop at SAM’s Club for almost everything—freeze what you won’t consume within a week. You can freeze just about anything while maintaining almost all of the nutritional benefits.
5. Don’t go drunk. You end up buying more alcohol, junk food that you don’t even like and another bottle of alcohol that you will probably drop and break in the parking lot. Just don’t do it.
* The original column and online supplement, "LivFit: Becoming a better grocery shopper," was featured in The Independent Florida Alligator newspaper and online at http://www.alligator.org/the_avenue/lifestyle/article_97273c10-263a-11e3-92e3-001a4bcf887a.html on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013.