Health & Fitness

The Art Of Grocery Shopping

I singed for a health magazine that sends daily news to my email in regards to different health issues from recipes to exercise regimen. I received this one yesterday and thought it would a good one to share.

I take grocery shopping seriously, to the point of it being an art. By now I pretty much know what I am going to buy when I get to the grocery store, so I don’t really need a list each time I go. When I see something that I think is worth trying you will find me in the middle of the aisle with the new item and another item that is familiar to me comparing and contrasting the nutrition labels on both items before I make my decision. I am trying to be as healthy as I can so knowing what is worth buying and eating is important.

Below is the article about some fake-out foods to look out for when shopping for healthy food. This article from fitness magazine.

Health Food Fake-Outs

Stroll down any supermarket aisle – even the candy one – and you will find shelf after shelf of foods that sound so good for you, they might as well be vitamins. Many menus are equally heavy on the hype (some large smoothies actually have more calories than 16 doughnut holes, FYI). The thing is, a lot of healthy food is anything but. “Just because something is high in protein or fiber doesn’t mean that it’s nutritious,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, the author of “Read It Before You Eat It.” Here’s the real deal on eight fake-outs.

Imposter: Turkey Bacon

While this breakfast staple can be lower in saturated fat and calories than regular bacon, it’s usually loaded with more sodium, says Tara Gidus, RD, a nutritionist in Orlando, Florida. In fact, two slices contain about 600 milligrams, which is more than a quarter of your daily quota.

My take on it: I rarely eat bacon. For some reason I don’t find it as tasty as this country makes it seem to be. When I do eat it, I buy the low sodium turkey bacon.

The better bet: Look for lower-sodium turkey bacon or go with center-cut pork bacon, which tends to have fewer calories and less saturated fat than standard strips. “And if you cook it until it’s crispy, you will remove a lot of the fat and be left with mostly protein anyway,” Gidus says. Whether you go the turkey or the pork route, choose a brand that’s free of nitrites and nitrates, preservatives that have been linked to certain cancers.

Imposter: Fat-Free Salad Dressing

The problem with foods that are “free”? “When you take out ingredients, you have to add something else to make up for the missing flavor and texture,” says Angela Ginn, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In this case, sugar and chemical fillers replace the fat, which is often the healthy monounsaturated kind. “You actually want a little bit of that fat to max out the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins from your veggies,” explains Rachel Beller, RD, the author of Eat to Lose, Eat to Win.

My take on it: As long as my salad has a little of cheese or grilled chicken in it, I don’t care much for dressing. I get the balsamic vinegar when I am eating out.

The better bet: If you’re dining out, drizzle on one tablespoon of full-fat dressing, plus vinegar to taste. At home, make dressing by whisking together two teaspoons olive oil, two teaspoons Dijon mustard, one tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and a squeeze of lemon.

Imposter: Veggie Chips

What’s in a name? In this case, not much: Most veggie chips are made mainly from potato flour mixed with small amounts of vegetable extract or powder, which means they have little to no nutritional value, Ginn says. Some brands are made from whole veggies, but they’re still deep fried and heavily salted, Gidus warns.

My take on it: I stay away from chips in general just because nothing is real about them. Think about it, by the time it turns into a chip, there is not much left in whatever it started as. I go for whole grain crackers if I am in the mood to eat chips as a snack.

The better bet: Keep the crunch, but lose the empty calories by dunking baby carrots, cucumber slices or endive leaves in a Greek yogurt – based dip, Taub-Dix suggests. If you’re dying for chips, grab the kale kind. They’re baked, not fried – and packed with vitamins A and K.

Imposter: Yogurt Parfaits

With upwards of 400 calories, one of these can do more dietary damage than a croissant or a breakfast sandwich, Beller says. The culprit is added sugar, which can be found in the yogurt, fruit, and granola. Some parfaits contain 53 grams of the white stuff, the equivalent of about six lollipops.

My take on it: I like yogurt and I buy them when I have time to read all the different flavors to see which ones have a reasonable amount of sugar for such a small amount of yogurt. When I want to eat parfaits, I make my own. Simply buy your preferred type of yogurt and a box of Kashi ( *organic brand, they have more than just cereal now) granola cereal and cut up some for fresh fruit to top it off.

The better bet: Skip the parfait and go for low-fat plain Greek yogurt, which has twice as much protein as regular yogurt, topped with fresh berries and a handful of high-fiber cereal, like Kashi GoLean. If you need a sweetener, drizzle on a teaspoon of honey, which contains only six grams of sugar.

Imposter: Sushi

Yes, sushi is made with fresh fish and vegetables, but the amount is negligible when you consider how many carbs you’re consuming from all that white rice. According to Beller, a typical roll is the carb equivalent of up to four slices of white bread. And if you order anything with a sauce on top or tempura inside, you’re looking at close to 500 calories.

My take on it: A friend convinced me to eat sushi a couple of years for the first time.  I ate it without doing much research ( I usually don’t this). Once I did take time to do the research, I took a few steps back from eating sushi.

The better bet: Ask your server if the chef can go easy on the rice, and request the whole-grain brown variety if it’s an option. Hand rolls (which are usually cone-shaped) and nigiri (fresh fish served atop a small clump of rice) tend to have less rice than cut rolls. Or skip the rice altogether and order sashimi plus a side salad and a cup of miso soup.

Imposter: Wraps

That tortilla is thin, but its giant diameter means it has about as many carbs as a cup of spaghetti — and not the complex kind that keep you energized. If you think you’re getting your veggies by ordering a spinach wrap, think again. Those tortillas are usually made with spinach powder, which makes up less than 2 percent of the total ingredients. Plus, because the ingredients inside are rolled up so tightly, you get a lot more filling — and calories — than you would with a regular sandwich.

My take on it: This is another one I ate prior to research and decided to take the better bet once I find out what I needed to know.

The better bet: DIY it by purchasing small or medium whole wheat tortillas that contain four or more grams of fiber, Taub-Dix suggests. Or pair half a store-bought wrap with a piece of fruit or a salad and save the other half for dinner. “Also, there’s nothing wrong with a sandwich on good old-fashioned whole wheat bread, which contains only 80 calories a slice,” Gidus says.

Imposter: Wasabi Peas

This snack sounds harmless enough, but those healthy peas are coated with cornstarch, flour, oil, sugar and salt, Beller says. The result: 120 calories and 240 milligrams of sodium in a measly quarter-cup serving – which, thanks to the addicting flavor and lack of filling fiber, you’re not likely to limit yourself to.

My take on it: I don’t have a take on this one because I don’t eat it. I did not have a reason, it is simply one of the things I just don’t eat.

The better bet: Grab a handful of dry roasted soybeans or almonds instead. Both come in wasabi flavors and pack up to three times as much fiber as peas. They also boast way more protein. Soybeans have 14 grams per ounce and almonds contain six grams, while wasabi peas can have just four grams.

Imposter: Dried Cranberries

You already ask for your salad dressing on the side. Now there’s one more request to make: Hold the cranberries, because they’re naturally tart, a one-third-cup serving of the dried kind is loaded with about 25 grams of added sugar. That explains why dried cranberries contain 123 calories a serving, while fresh ones have 15 calories.

My take on it: I prefer fresh when it comes to fruit. The one only fruit I eat dry sometimes is grape in the form of raisin. Sugar is turned into fat once it gets inside of your body so when a food is low in calories, but high in sugar, you may as well count the sugar as calories from fat. Diabetes runs in my family, so I am especially careful with consuming loads of sugar. In the grocery store, you will also find me picking things up and putting them back down. I am not crazy, but putting them down is a sign that they have too much sugar for me.

The better bet: At the salad bar, choose fresh fruit, like grapes or chopped apples instead. On the go, opt for dried apricots, which have no added sugar.

Come to Terms

It’s no wonder grocery chains are hiring in-store registered dietitians to help shoppers make healthy choices: A recent study showed that 43 percent of new products have health and nutrition promises printed on the packaging, up from 25 percent in 2001. Learn what to watch out for with this handy cheat sheet.

Hormone-Free: The USDA prohibits the use of hormones in all pork and poultry products; any brand touting the term is stating the obvious in an attempt to sound “natural.” However, the USDA and the FDA allow the use of hormones in beef. Studies on whether they affect our health are inconclusive. But if you’re concerned, look for beef labeled “No hormones administered.”

Helps Support a Healthy Metabolism: The FDA doesn’t always investigate this phrase, so it’s important to check the ingredients list. Any food with this label should contain at least five grams of fiber per serving, says Taub-Dix.

No Antibiotics Added: Farmers say they have to administer antibiotics to animals to make them grow faster and fend off diseases. Some public health officials warn that doing so breeds antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can infect people. Look for this label if you’re worried about “superbugs,” and thoroughly cook all meat and poultry either way.

Grass-Fed: Choose milk and beef with this label. It means that the cow had access to pasture and ate grass rather than grain, so it was less likely to get sick and need treatment with antibiotics. Also, meat and milk from grass-fed cows is lower in saturated fat and richer in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, Taub-Dix says.

Sugar-Free: This signifies that the product has less than a half gram of sugar per serving, but sugar-free doesn’t necessarily equal low-calorie, Taub-Dix says. The food could still be laden with fat and carbs. Plus, the sugar could have been replaced with artificial sweeteners, which research suggests may actually increase your appetite or create uncomfortable side effects like gas and bloating. Read the ingredients list before buying.

My take on it this article: Don’t go to the grocery store just to buy food. Educate yourself on what is healthy and what is pretending to be. You have worked hard for your money, spend it well. I usually spend quite a bit in the grocery store, but I don’t feel bad about it because I know what I bought is well worth the money and my body deserves the best.

***For more information and daily tips on how to live healthy, subscribe to fitness magazine at


I am a 26 year-old educator on the run of becoming all that I can in the time that I have. A few years ago, I embarked on a journey filled with spiritual discoveries, healthy habits, and a passion for education stronger than I've ever had. Learning what to do to become a better person have always interest me. One of my passions is to know a little about everything in order to gain the capability of forming my own opinion so others won't have to do it for me. Another passion that was buried deep inside finally came to the surface and allowed me to see the adventurous side of me. I am on a journey to see the world and do things outside of my comfort zone. I will write all about it along the way!

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