Anyone who says eating clean is simple has obviously done the hard yards. It takes some serious label reading, time, focus and shopping know-how to navigate the maze of a grocery store. Like with everything, once you learn, it is second nature. Kind of like riding a bike, even fun!
After years of marketing and misinformation you just have to be prepared to re-learn a few things, know what to look for, and possibly even change where you shop. For those of you that are busy, and short on time, don’t get discouraged. Keep pulling in the information, and sifting through what works for you. It will come together, and if you need help, get some. Find the right tools.
Let’s start with the basics. What is a whole food? Well whole foods are just that, whole, unbroken.
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Fish and sea vegetables
- Grass Fed Meat (animals store toxins in fat, you eat what they eat)
- Whole grains & legumes
- Spices and herbs
- Quality fermented and pickled foods
- Quality natural cheeses, yogurt and dairy
- Cold pressed oils
- Natural form fats like butter, ghee, coconut oil and lard
- Any products containing a combination of the above!
Yes, whole foods can still come in a package (this is often misreported)…. You just need to check the ingredients and find trusted brands. This is the hard part.
The four things you must diligently hunt for:
- Foods that are natural and free from genetic modification (Non GMO).
- Foods free from added sugar, chemicals and preservatives.
- Foods not aggressively marketed (marketing costs money and equals reduced quality generally).
- Foods that have ingredients, not numbers.
Unfortunately we live in a world focused on selling us stuff. The more we buy, the more they succeed. The more we eat (or overeat), the more they succeed. Your health is not their number one concern, and unfortunately your biology is set up for them to win, not you.
Why do processed foods sell so well?
Processed foods are designed to have big flavours, they are made in labs, and their aim is to blast your senses, make you feel good, then you are addicted to the feeling… eek. I know that’s a bit extreme, but it’s seriously all about money out there. This is what we need to get, so you can be beyond their reach.
These foods are manufactured to sell, not to nourish, they are void of balanced nutrition and cause damageto your health. The science around nutrition is tricky, and there are massive loopholes. These foods are in every grocery store, they are targeted to kids, and they are mucking up your insides…it’s not just fast food and soft drinks doing it. It’s a lot of the stuff you grew up with and feed to your family, unknowingly. A lot of the things you thought were healthy. They play into your emotions.
Look closely at these (broken) food types, these are generally very processed:
- Boxed cereals
- Margarine, dairy substitutes
- Gluten free products (the thorn in my side)
- Flavoured yogurts
- Deli and packaged meats
- Frozen meals
- Lunch snacks and bars
- Diet and low fat products
- Ice cream and frozen yogurt
Like with anything, just take it in small baby steps. Start to pick up labels, learn about ingredients, and look to fill your grocery cart on the outside of the grocery store. Yep, that’s the super tip! You might dip in to get a few cans or some long life almond milk, but generally the cleanest food is on the outer perimeter. This is a branding trick, and companies pay for premium shelf space.
The big grocery stores do some serious business with the big food companies, and the reason you don’t see specialty brands at the main ones, is because it is so hard to sell in. Pricing, packaging requirements, and having enough money to break into the market are all factors. Some smaller, independent and specialty health food stores don’t have those same restrictions, so you might have more selection if you look there.
Another tip to keep you sane while you relearn some stuff is to…. have fun with this! It’s kind of like hunting for bargains, being a detective. Involve the kids, don’t get too serious about it all, and when you find a winner, celebrate! Your health is worth the effort.
Sita Huber is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist, host of Eat in Love , health writer, mother and founder of Mind Body IQ, a nutrition education hub with an edge. With a background in yoga and a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional Medicine, Sita focuses on our relationship with food and the power of the brain-gut connection. Sita’s philosophy integrates mindset, emotional awareness, and functional healing techniques to rebalance and reconnect to the body’s own intelligence; its unique language and wisdom.
Having overcome her own stressful life events and chronic health issues, Sita understands these are tools we can all learn from. By embracing our imperfections and nourishing our love of food, rather than depriving ourselves, we can create long term health. Sita is available for private consultations in person, and over Skype to anywhere in the world.