How to Grocery Shop

I made a list of twelve health changes my family has made that I’d like to share on this blog.  This one has three parts to it.  More than likely, if you’re a ‘beginner,’ you should start with part A before proceeding to part B, if you want to keep eating on a daily basis!

Part A: This step is important to put in front of part B.  Part A is to try one new healthy recipe at a time to start building your repertoire of good, nourishing foods you can feed your family.  Funny story… When I had some health changes in place, I took my recipe box and started sorting.  I was going to make one pile of recipes that met all my new criteria of being healthy and one pile of recipes that would no longer work for us (see below).  HA!  My healthy recipe pile had about two things in it- salad and spaghetti.

So I calmly (not as easy as it sounds!) got out some new index cards and put them in a new recipe box, blank and empty.  As I began trying one new recipe at a time, my new box slowly began to fill up.  As part of my easy meal planning, I make one index card for each recipe that is tried and liked by my family.  Once eaten and approved, it gets its own card in my new box!  It took a while, but my box is very full now, yah!  But I am always looking for more!

Part B: My Shopping Challenge:  This was HARD!  At least at first.  After reading up on the dangers of a lot of the ingredients that are found in common foods, I was determined to stop bringing home bad foods for my family to eat.  If it made it home, it was going to get eaten, that simple.  And I didn’t want us eating this stuff!  I not only researched the dangers of each of these ingredients (I’ll be posting more about that later), but I had to learn all of their various disguising names (and boy do they use a lot of them!).  So as best as I could, I stopped purchasing any products with the following ingredients:

Hydrogenated/ Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Trans Fats).  They may also be deceptively labeled as ‘mono-diglycerides,’ ‘interesterified oils,’ or even ‘shortening.’  These fats have been linked to Obesity, Cancer, Coronary Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Liver Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Allergies, Arthritis, and Obesity.  I’ll put myself out on a limb here and make a bold statement:  I bet obesity could nearly be eliminated if one completely cut this ingredient out of their diet (along with the next one).  This ingredient is making America fat, and sadly, it’s costing people their health.

High Fructose Corn Syrup- We’ve all heard how bad HFCS is for you, which is why they are trying to change its name, so be on the lookout.  This is another large contributor to obesity.  If you are trying to achieve a healthy weight, this ingredient should never make it in your shopping cart!

MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)- This is also given quite a few disguising names like:  hydrolyzed protein, glutamic acid, ‘natural flavoring,’ ‘spices,’ and more.  Type in ‘dangers of MSG’ and you will get enough information to make you never want this excitotoxin again.  It’s highly toxic, especially to the brain.

Nitrates/ Nitrites– found in many deli meats and can contribute to cancer.  If you buy hotdogs, bologna, pepperoni, deli meats, etc, then look for “Nitrate/ite Free,” and also “Free range, grass fed” if you can.

Artificial Colorings/ Flavorings– Lake 5, Red 40, FD&C Yellow 6, ‘Artificial Flavorings,’ etc.  Oddly enough, many artificial colorings have been linked to not only tumors, but behavioral problems in children.  They don’t need medications for their “ADHD,” they need “taken off” these artificial ingredients!

Bad Preservatives–  Sodium benzoate, propyl gallate, potassium bromate, calcium propionate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, calcium sorbate, potassium sorbate, BHA, BHT, EDTA, disodium EDTA, sulfur dioxide, sulfites, etc.  Does that sentence sound unnatural or what?!  Look up some of these cancer-causing ingredients to see just how bad they are for your health.  I can’t think of the last time I was craving some BHT, yuck!

The problem with this shopping challenge: If I eliminated all these things from what we normally bought, we weren’t left with much that we could eat!  Until I got some good food changes in place anyways.  But if you shop smart and are willing to put forth some extra effort to cook from scratch, you CAN do it!  In the grocery store, take a few extra seconds to read the ingredient lists on every item you put in your cart.  You’ll be surprised at first, but it will bring about healthier eating in your house.

Part C: Eventually, my shopping challenge also became my restaurant challenge.  If I wasn’t willing to eat these ingredients at home, why would I go out, pay triple the price, and then eat them elsewhere?  Trust me, I really liked eating hot food that I didn’t have to prepare and it be mmm tasty.  But at what expense?  And I don’t mean that financially speaking!  This really was a challenge for me, the average American gal.  My husband used to tease me, he’d say “you’re not willing to buy these ingredients at the grocery store, but since you don’t have an ingredient list at the restaurant, you blindly believe it’s innocent and pure.”  He was SO right!  Ingredient lists aren’t readily available at restaurants.  Go ahead, ask for it, you’ll get a deep blank stare.  So after searching, I began realizing that finding a restaurant to meet my shopping challenge criteria was pretty much impossible.  So our restaurant eating decreased dramatically.  I was sad to see it go at first, because it’s so EASY to let someone else prepare you a good-tasting hot meal and instantly be able to eat within minutes of deciding you’re hungry.  But… I knew if I wanted to have excellent health, restaurants were going to have to go.  And this took a while.  Probably before I even made any health changes, I ate out around 4 times a week (I know, that’s a lot!).  I easily trimmed that down to three without too much effort.  I reluctantly trimmed that down to two, having to deny myself pleasure.  Then as I got more and more hooked on making things from scratch at home, one a week wasn’t a problem.  Now?  It’s about one time every 6 weeks.  And even then I try to make the best decision possible to get the least amount of bad ingredients as possible.

Conclusion: Fill your cart with the good stuff!  Learn new recipes that are made from whole, nature-provided foods.  Foods that God made for us!  Because trust me, God did not make hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup!

On another blog post:  My more advanced shopping challenge- what I did about sugar, soy, aspartame, hormones, antibiotics, other processed foods, and more.

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