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How to Quickly Shop for Healthy Foods

By Debra Rodzinak

With many restrictions on particular lifestyle diets like vegan, gluten-free, or paleo, it may seem like hours are spent reading labels at the grocery store.  Many people are confused when it comes to nutrition and surprised to find out what ingredients are good or bad.  There are some simple strategies for choosing the best foods at the store.

Ingredients to Include

Choosing foods that are clean—whole and unprocessed—are the most important types of foods to purchase.  A good rule of thumb is to look at the ingredient list.  If this is a recipe you could make in your own kitchen, then this product would be a good choice. 

Even though a food may be high in fiber or considered “healthy,” it may be overly processed and filled with unwanted preservatives or additives that are not particularly healthy for the body.  Just make sure that a food is chosen based on the ingredients and not the “hype” of marketing.

How to Categorize Foods

After foods are purchased, the next step is to place them in different categories such as vegetable, protein, starch, or healthy fat.  Once categories are known, it will become easier to build healthy, well-rounded meals and snacks. 

There are some easy category foods, like broccoli, that most people know fall into the vegetable category, but guacamole may be a little more difficult to categorize.  Quinoa is a very good source of starch, and guacamole is a good fat.  Make sure that all foods are properly categorized before building a meal or snack. 

However, even foods that are “good” foods can still be bad if not eaten in proper amounts.  Popcorn may be a healthy, low-calorie snack, but if an entire bag of popcorn is consumed in one sitting, the carbohydrates and fat of that popcorn is equal to four slices of bread!

Build Meals Based on Portion Size

Instead of the endless headache of counting calories, focus on portion size instead.  Based on age, height, and activity level, the amounts of vegetables, protein, carbohydrates, and good fats should be adjusted.  A man who is over 6 feet tall and runs daily will need larger portions than a petite woman who rarely exercises at all.  A combination of balance and customization of meals should be looked at for every individual.

Just remember, the next time you are shopping for healthy foods at the grocery store, remember to choose ingredients that you could fix at home, fit into your daily diet, and in portions that fit your particular stature and activity level.  Following these simple rules will have you eating clean and healthy in no time. 

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