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GROCERY STORE BASICS FOR WHOLE FOODS SHOPPING

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One of the toughest challenges about changing to a whole foods diet for many people is knowing how to navigate the grocery store. The shelves are loaded with boxes labeled “natural”, the produce section is full of organic food for twice the price, and the gluten-free bread looks hard as a rock. I am here to tell you that it does not have to be this overwhelming. In fact, grocery shopping on a whole-foods based diet can be simple and even enjoyable.

 

whole foods shopping

(I TOOK PICTURES FOR THIS POST AT WHOLE FOODS IN BUFFALO, NY. THIS POST IS NOT ENDORSED AND I AM IN NO WAY SAYING THAT WHOLE FOODS IS THE ONLY PLACE YOU SHOULD DO GROCERY SHOPPING.)

In this article I outline the basics around navigating the grocery store, what to look for in your food, and how to save $ when possible. I can encourage you to resist the chips in your snack drawer, but unless you have something to replace them with, the healthy eating changes probably won’t happen.

 

As always, please take what I write with a grain of salt and do what works for you. I am simply here to provide helpful information and encouragement for living a healthy lifestyle.

3 STEPS TO NAVIGATING THE GROCERY STORE

 

1. SHOP THE PERIMETER OF THE STORE

Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is a great starting block for choosing better food. Think about the sections that are located on the outside edges of the store—these include produce, eggs, dairy, meats, and seafood (it also includes the bakery, but we can pretend that it’s not there right?).

These sections are where you will find the freshest and most whole-foods. There are a couple isles you will likely want to hit, but if you’re used to hitting the center isles of the grocery store where there are lots of processed and highly refined foods, this visual structure change is helpful. I break down what to choose in each of these sections later on.

2. READ LABELS

For the foods that you will be purchasing from the isles in the center of the store, it is important to get in the habit of reading labels. Many foods have sweeteners, artificial fillers, and processed fats hidden in them.

The word “Natural” on a box does not mean that the food is healthy or good for you. Since the FDA has not developed a specific use for the word “natural”, it is basically fair-game for companies. The only restrictions around the term are that a food labeled “Natural” must not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances. Since there are many unnatural ingredients out there that do not fall under this list, it is a good idea to always be skeptical of the word “Natural”.

A good rule of thumb when reading labels is if you don’t recognize an ingredient—especially if you can’t pronounce it—you probably should avoid it. You would be surprised how many packaged foods contain fillers and other suspicious ingredients.

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