Don’t Go Grocery Shopping Without Me

Want to know the four simple things you can do on your next grocery trip to help you lose weight, save your body, gut, brain and heart? Read on!

1. Watch out for sneaky sugars – save your body

I’ve said this before, sugar is an easily digested form of energy that our body loves to use very quickly once we consume it. The good news is you can get a great energy boost from it. The bad news is that once you have too much of it, your body will store it away for later in the places you don’t want it…

Unfortunately, sugar also has the benefit of tasting good. So many manufacturers will add it to their foods to make things taste better. Which means we end up eating more and more, and guess where all that sugar is going to end up? Yup, those lovely lady (or man) lumps. It is the perfect way to sabotage your healthy eating or weight loss plans.

You may think you are being healthy choosing a ‘light’ salad dressing for your salad, or a granola bar for a snack, but check the ingredients, I bet they have a ton of sugar. So where possible, you should minimize your sugar consumption.

One way to do this is to make sure that the food you buy doesn’t have any added sugar in it.

But most manufacturers are clever they will use more science-y sounding names to hide sugar – for example: sorbitol, fructose, glycol, ribose. So how do you know if something you are about to eat has sugar in it?

Next time you are grocery shopping, check the nutrition label – under ‘carbohydrates’ it should list how many grams of sugar it contains. Remember 1 teaspoon is equal to 4g of sugar. Recommended daily intake is 24g of sugar (about 6 teaspoons). So a ‘healthy’ Larabar that only contains dates, cashes and apples actually contains 15g of sugar that’s about 4 teaspoons, which is more than half the recommended daily intake!

Some common grocery items that tend to have sneaky sugar in them that I would watch out for are:

  • Readymade broth or stock for soups
  • Tomato sauces
  • Coconut milk cans
  • Any Condiments like Ketchup, mayo, mustard etc.
  • Bread
  • Non-dairy milks
  • Coffee creamers
  • Flavoured yogurts
  • Flavoured chips
  • Salad dressings
  • Fruit juices, smoothies, and most prepared beverages (watch out for ‘from concentrate’ juices that means sugar too!

2. Avoid anything with Carrageenan – save your body and your gut

Carrageenan is a thickener that is used in a lot of things to give food a thick and creamy consistency. It is made from seaweed and has no nutritional value. But is known to cause inflammation in the gut and is especially bad for people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). It also has been shown to be linked to insulin resistance which is a precursor to diabetes. If you have digestive issues, and even if you don’t, it is best to stay away from consuming carrageenan.

You will see carrageenan listed in the ingredients label of things like non-dairy milk, coconut milk, coffee creamer, whipped cream, cheese, ice cream. Basically anything that needs a thick creamy consistency.  

Next time you are grocery shopping, do a quick check of the ingredients to see if you are buying anything with carrageenan and see if there is a carrageenan-free alternative you can get instead.

3. Stay away from the Dirty Dozen – save your brain

Pesticides are abundant in all our fresh fruit and veggies. And they are great at keeping away the pests like bugs and fungus that can kill our produce. But the long term impact of humans eating the fruits and vegetables grown with these pesticides is sketchy at best. For now we do know that there is some negative effect on the brain development, pesticides have been linked to increased risk of alzheimer’s. There are other studies that have linked pesticide exposure to asthma as well as infertility.

Basically, if you can afford it, then buy all organic all the time. But the truth is most of us just don’t have the budget for it. I know I don’t. So maximize your grocery dollar for your benefit. Since the majority of pesticides remain on the surface of the food item, if the produce you buy will be peeled and then eaten you can get away with non-organic produce e.g. banana, avocado, oranges.

But if you will be eating the item raw or with the skin e.g. potatoes, strawberries, salad or spinach leaves etc. go for organic. This way you will minimize the chemicals you consume.

Here is a quick list of the dirty dozen items that are known to have highest levels of pesticides and I recommend you try to buy organic where possible:

The Dirty Dozen – Try to buy these items organic:

StrawberriesSpinach
NectarineApples
GrapesPeaches
CherriesPears
TomatoesCelery
PotatoesSweet Bell Pepper

If I was to choose only one item to buy organic I would go with baby spinach leaves. It has consistently tested at the highest levels and I eat that the most often in my salads. If you eat a few of the above items often, try switching to organic so that you can minimize the long term effects on your body and brain.

I try to buy only organic spinach when grocery shopping since it has been shown to contain the most pesticides.

4. Avoid Polyunsaturated Oils – Save your heart

This has been a very controversial topic in the past as it was not properly understood how consuming the fat in these oils affected our heart and cholesterol levels. Essentially, polyunsaturated oils such as safflower, sunflower, rapeseed, grapeseed, canola, and vegetable oil are high in Omega 6 fatty acids.

We now know that Omega 6 is bad for our body and causes increased inflammation. However, we can combat this by increasing our Omega 3 fatty acids. That’s the ‘good’ fats you hear people telling you to eat.

But high levels of Omega 6 actually prevent the ‘good’ Omega 3 from working. High levels of Omega 6 have also been linked to a whole host of issues including increase in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and autoimmune diseases… the list goes on. It is also linked to increased mental illness and suicide. All from the oil you use to cook your food!

Here is a summary of the oils you should try to avoid and which ones you should buy:

Cooking Oils to Buy/Avoid

At home I use olive oil, coconut oil and ghee for cooking depending on the flavour I want or level of heat I am cooking with.

TL;DR:

If you do these four simple things the next time you are at the grocery store, you will likely see a huge difference over time in both how you look and how you feel:

  • Do a quick check of the nutrition labels for the amount of sugar in any packaged foods you buy to ensure you stay under the recommended 24g of sugar a day so you don’t sabotage your weight loss efforts.
  • Make sure the ingredients list does not contain any carrageenan to protect your gut and reduce risk of cancer.
  • Try to buy mostly organic produce, to protect your brain. Especially the ‘dirty dozen’ – strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, sweet bell peppers.
  • Stick to monounsaturated oils for cooking to protect your heart – coconut, avocado and olive oils are best.

Which one will you do on your next grocery run?

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