Tennis is more than just hitting a ball. Take care of your health and you will see an improvement on the court. Knowing that we eat 3-6 times a day, it is imperative that we do what's best for our nutrition as much as possible. Unless you have a professional nutritionist/chief, you are left with the task of providing your own food. This takes us to the grocery store.
In today’s grocery stores, we are bombarded by so many messages on the foods we buy that everything looks like a nutritious decision. It is my hope that I can give you enough tips so that your next trip to the grocery store will be less confusing and easier to manage.
Shopping the Perimeter
A grocery store is set up to have all products that will spoil on the outside perimeter of the supermarket. This allows the store to easily replace these foods on a daily basis with minimal work. All the foods that will last for a long time (due to the way the food has been processed) are along the inside lanes of the grocery store. Many times these foods have unhealthy additions or they have lost their nutrients from processing. If you focus on the perimeter of the store, you won’t be disappointed in finding all the nutrition you need!
Looking at Ingredients
It can be a daunting task to figure out what foods are in a certain product. Here are some helpful hints:
Avoid products that have ingredients that you cannot pronounce. This usually means it is not a natural food and your body will have a hard time digesting it.
The list of ingredients goes by quantity. So the first ingredient is what the product is made mostly of. If any of the first few ingredients are sugar, chances are the product is unhealthy.
Try to eat foods that have no more than 3 ingredients. The fewer the ingredients, the less processed it is. Remember that your body is designed to eat whole foods, not creations that a company like Kraft has made.
Your body digests high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) the same as sugar but a product that has HFCS in it usually means the product is heavily processed. This is due to how cheap HFCS is produced.
Sometimes, the little things you can do at the grocery store can make a big difference. There are some that might help:
Make a list and estimate the costs. You will intuitively take away items that you do not need.
Your list of foods should be based off of your weekly menu. This will help ensure you get everything you need.
Don’t go when you are hungry. You’ll leave with way too much food.
Check expiration dates. A lot of whole foods are put on special because of their expiration date.
Is it Expensive?
Yes, processed food has more calories per dollar than healthier versions. The difference is the lack of nutrients in the foods (See my “ultimate equation” in the weight loss article two weeks ago). This leads to health problems that you will eventually pay for at the doctor’s office.
To get a better picture of this, see a comparison of foods you can get for $20 that are healthy and unhealthy. You be the judge!
Organic, Local or Conventional Whole Foods?
The term “organic” seems to be misleading to the general public. What is it? Is it better? What about locally grown foods? Here are a few basic principles to help.
Organic foods are the best choice but not needed if you are going to peel the skin of the food. For example, apples are good to buy as organic but bananas are not necessary.
Locally grown foods are the next best choice. These foods are less susceptible to getting bruised or diseased since they travel less.
Conventional foods from a different country would be my last choice. Not only do they have more pesticides and chemicals, they do not taste as good!
Eating Out Vs. Cooking at Home
We are a fast food nation. Eating out is part of our culture and has led to many of the health problems plaguing the U.S. Here are some reasons why eating out is not only uneconomical; it is unhealthy and time consuming!
The price you pay for a meal at a restaurant is not only for the food but also for the service and environment. After all, how is a restaurant making money if they are just charging you for the price of the food? Try your own experiment to see how much you spend on a night out for dinner vs. a home cooked meal. You’ll be surprised!
The time it takes to drive to a restaurant, order your food and eat it is much higher than preparing a home cooked meal. You can get a meal prepared, cooked and eaten in easily less than an hour at home.
The serving sizes in restaurants are incredibly high. In fact, the portions served in the U.S restaurants are the highest in the world! Look no further than the research showing that people who move to the U.S. often gain weight. Simply put: limiting your portion size will lead to limiting your weight gain.
What’s in the food you order? We instinctively like fats and sugars. Restaurants thrive on this by using fats and sugars to make them taste even better. By preparing your own food, you know exactly what is being added to your food.
The Bottom Line
The whole term “you are what you eat” really does ring true in today’s society. If you are constantly making good decisions about the food you buy at the grocery store, then your home will be an avenue to improve your health. Coming home to healthy choices for meals allows for self-control and an immediate improvement on the health that you seek.
Want to fix your serve? Try this!