Blog Post by PPT Trainer – Mary Elasi
Hands up if you have ever stood staring at the shelves in the grocery stores, confused, unsure and just down right unsure of which product to pick up?
At a guess, it probably happens 80% of the time you visit a grocery store, and perhaps that is a conservative estimate. From our point of view, clients are asking us daily about what they should be eating, and looking for guidance on how they can make better choices.
“Shopping the peripherals” principle aside, there are a few rules of thumb that you can apply when shopping that might help you decide which product to pick up off the shelf. Let’s be totally honest, even the best and cleanest eaters out there occasionally need to pick up something in a packet. Life is busy, and we like convenience and ease. So golden rule aside, lets look at a few other principles that will help. Even if you only apply a few of these when you visit the store next, you will improve the items in your shopping trolley
- Read the ingredients
Ever noticed at how many dips, spreads, crisp breads & yoghurts there are on the shelf? These are all easy and convenient items that you can comfortably eat on a healthy eating plan, but how do you choose which is best? Try to pick the item that has the best ingredients. This can often mean the shortest and easily identifiable products. Using dips as an example, we recently compared a few brands of tzatsiki, and while the nutrition panel was pretty much identical, one brand had 4 ingredients, the others had 7 plus, including soy solids and thickeners. All the extra fluff, not needed. It’s primary purpose in the food item is to make the product cheaper to produce.
- Read the nutrition panel
True food is more than just numbers, we’ve already established we want good ingredients, but getting your energy in Vs energy out balance right is crucial. Our recent 12 week shift with 60 odd clients has further cemented that approach for us at PPT. Those who had the most success were the clients who were the most consistent in hitting these numbers. When looking at this panel and comparing products, always compare like for like, ie the 100g column. Each manufacturer might have slightly different serving sizes or you personally might like a little more or less than there suggested serving size. Individual yoghurt packs for example range from 125g serves through to 170g, and then you have the large tubs now available up to 2kg. From here if you know your numbers for your macro count, think how this will impact on your daily intake. If that one cracker, sprinkled with seeds, nuts etc takes your daily fat intake to 70%, is it worth it?
- Less processed option where possible
Plenty of products go through multiple steps before they become shelf ready. Don’t buy the fruit juice or fruit bar, buy the whole fruit. Nuts, these don’t need the roasting, honey or salt, just stick to the raw almond or cashew. Grains are another big opportunity for improvement, try to buy wholegrain products (rice, breads, crackers) these generally will give you more bang for your buck nutritionally.
- Don’t believe the packet
Put down that “high in protein bar” and have a read of the nutrition panel. Many have more fats and carbs than protein. There are plenty out there that fall into this category and we are not here to name and shame. Always have your smarts on and remember marketers are in the business of selling product, simple.
- Love what you eat
If you don’t like what you eat, then you have a problem. Just because something is touted as a superfood, healthy or whatever, it doesn’t mean you will like it. Don’t overcomplicate your healthy lifestyle, identify the good foods you like to eat and eat them. Try something new, but your groceries don’t need to be out of the health food isle only, sometimes these products are just cleverly marketed items. There are lots of ways to make healthy food taste good, herbs and spices are always a great place to start.
In a nutshell (and by this we mean raw nuts, not coated in honey), know get to know what you are eating, read nutrition panels and ingredients and don’t fall for the clever marketing traps.