Healthy Shopping Basics

The grocery store can be an intimidating place. It can be difficult and time consuming navigating through food label claims and advertisements. These simple tips are intended to help guide you through the process and give you the tools to be a more informed consumer. It is possible to make healthy choices that are practical, simple and affordable.

Here’s how: 
  • Buy in bulk. If you see a nutritious item that can be stored, get it. Whole grains (Brown Rice, Barley, Oats, and Quinoa) have a long shelf life and are an excellent source of essential enzymes, iron, dietary fiber, vitamin E & B. Because the body absorbs grains slowly, they provide sustained and high-quality energy. They’re cheap too!
  • Spend more on your household “staples.” If your family goes through 2 gallons of milk each week, think about buying one gallon that is Organic. That goes for bread, too.
  • Optimize your nutrients with Whole Wheat! Tip: When reading food labels, avoid ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Our bodies can’t process the many chemicals that are in packaged items. The less the number of ingredients, the better.
  • Explore the produce aisle. Fresh is best, but frozen is fine too! In lieu of restricting yourself, increase the number of fruits and vegetables and aim to “crowd out” unhealthy foods you might eat otherwise.
  • Beware of misleading labels. Margarine is a great example. The variety of nutritional claims that margarine is a healthy alternative to butter doesn’t account for the additives like emulsifiers, gels, flavors and colors that create the butter substitute. Real butter in moderation is better.
  • What about artificial sweeteners? Aspartame (Equal), Sucralose (Splenda & Sweet and Low), & Acesulfame-K. Make an effort to avoid them. Real raw unrefined sugar (in moderation) is your best bet. Try swapping sugar for a honey, molasses, agave nectar or maple syrup.
  • Juice. Juices can be tricky. Look for 100% Juice, without additives or preservatives. These juices are often very concentrated. Diluting them is a great way to save money. Also, homemade popsicles in the summer are much cheaper and more wholesome than store-bought, processed ice pops.
  • Milk. Drink Organic milk in moderation. Experiment with Rice or Almond Milk.
  • Meats. Choose lean meats and poultry, preferably grass fed, antibiotic & hormone free. 
  • Support our local farms! Fruits, vegetables, milk & meat products can all be purchased locally.  Take your kids to the farm stand. Make it an adventure! Show them where their fruits and vegetables come from. Locally grown foods are fresh and often taste better.  Together, we can make less of an impact on the environment and support our local farmers! “When you choose locally grown produce, you are voting for conservation of fuel resources and the economic viability of local communities, along with freshness and better taste.”      -Marion Nestle    
  • Do what works for you and your family. The goal is to integrate healthy products into your household in a way that is practical for you. Keep in mind, small changes add up to significant health benefits.

Ragan Finalborgo, Certified Holistic Health Coach
Coordinator, The Ed & Phyllis Davis Wellness Institute, Southampton Hospital
(631) 726-8800