Processed Food (9) - Navigating the Grocery Store Part 1: Shopping Criteria
Establishing Shopping Criteria
Now that we've explored the world of processed food and concluded that a pantry, refrigerator, and lifestyle makeover is in order, it's time to head out to the grocery store to restock our shelves.
Where to start
By now, I hope you have a whole new way of looking at food. Taste is still important, but fuel for health is an equal, if not more important, criterion. It's good to keep that uppermost in your mind.
Prior to heading to the store, establish what criteria each item needs to meet before making it into your grocery cart.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to establish those criteria:
Are you a vegetarian or a vegan?
If you're a vegan, one criterion is to not put anything containing animal products into your cart.
If vegetarian, be clear with yourself regarding which animal products you will allow depending on what type of vegetarian you are.
What do you define as healthy food?
Technically, vegans can adhere to a vegan diet (no animal products) and still end up with that diet in the unhealthy range. For example, eating processed food that has no animal products but is still high in salt, fat, and sugar can be a problem. Perhaps you need to determine what percent of your daily calories will come from processed food.
If you aren't giving up all processed foods, you may find it difficult to make consistent decisions during shopping unless you set some criteria for those decisions,
For example, you might develop criteria such as:
- I will read the ingredient list on the food label and will buy that item only if all ingredients are real food... or...
- I will read the ingredient label and buy food that has no additives or chemicals added...or...
- Rather than eliminate processed food , I will allow _____% of my daily calories to come from processed food ...or...
- I will eat whole foods for ______% of my calories.
What sauces and dressings will you allow in your diet?
Sauces and dressings are filled with many ingredients that will add calories as well as salt, fat, and sugar to your diet. A decision is whether to search for store-bought ones that will work for you or to make your own in order to achieve your criteria.
Will you be strict with adhering to your shopping list?
Before shopping, it's always good to make a detailed shopping list that specifies what you intend to buy. This may help ensure your success as it will give you a chance to weigh each item against your criteria.
It's also a good idea to make a cumulative list of items you won't buy. For example, I have trouble with cashews. No cashew lives to see the sun go down in my house. Yes, I eat them all before dark. Therefore I don't buy them.
Master shopping list.
Over time, make a master shopping list that works for you. We'll talk more about this in the next post. For now, begin working on your shopping criteria and your individualized list of what you will and won't buy according to criteria you think will work for you.