For many people, the grocery store can be overwhelming, time consuming and costly.
If you are local in the Jacksonville area, I'd love for you to join me for a group or private grocery store tour at Winn Dixie (off 210). With a variety of wholesome selections, the following topics will be discussed during the tour (in addition to your questions as the tour continues):
1) How to understand a food label
2) What ingredients should you de-emphasize in the diet (research supported)
3) Ideas for satisfying, healthy and wholesome snacks for kids (and parents)
4) Education as to how to build a healthy plate - to eat more nutrient dense foods without weight gain
5) How to choose the good, better, best options
*Free samples will be included in the tour
*Next tour: WED MARCH 7th, 2012 @ 9:30 AM
For more info on Spa me nutrition counseling and grocery store tours or to reserve a spot in the tour, please call 904-824-9804.
If you are interested in online counseling, which includes skype, phone calls and/or email communication, check out my website Trimarnicoach.com and send me an email. NEW SERVICES are coming soon!
Here's my latest article from Irongirl.com.....Ladies - be sure to subscribe to the FREE Newsletter...see you at Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon!
Wholesome navigating while food shopping
You always have the best intentions and a plan of action. Enter the cereal, bread and granola bar sections and you become overwhelmed with options. It’s natural to crave variety but when it comes to navigating through the grocery store aisles, more isn’t always better. Often, when you are given an abundance of selections, it is easy to feel dissatisfied with your choices. As a creature of habit, companies understand that it is natural to seek “healthy” replacements that provide you with the same taste, texture and satisfaction as your old favorites. But knowing that if you don’t like that cereal or granola bar you have over 100 alternatives, you may find yourself running in circles when it comes to finding the most nutritious (and tasteful) food items for your diet.
Enter any grocery aisle and whole grain, low-fat, high-fiber and low-sodium are screaming at you in bright, bold print. As you make eye contact with the front of a box, you may quickly remember clever marketing from a magazine or a well-versed spokesperson on TV, explaining to you why you should try that product and why you will like it more than others. Whereas cost, quality, taste and availability may affect your ultimate choice, it’s easy to be tempted by the overwhelming number of “healthy” food options.
Or, are they as healthful as you think?
In 1990, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act was signed by George H.W. Bush and under the NLEA act, nutrition labels were no longer voluntary. Unless a food item has a nutrition label, it would be considered “misbranded” (2). Today, when it comes to food labeling, food companies often use crafty techniques to confuse and mislead the consumer to buy their product.
For example, you enter a section of “healthy” fruit drinks claiming “real fruit” and “all natural” ingredients and you are captivated by the bursting colors inside a clear bottle of juice, claiming to provide “antioxidants with a blend of pineapple, cranberry and cherry juice.” You compare the price to other juices and you instantly think you are getting a great deal. As a health conscious consumer, you read the ingredient list and notice that water is the first ingredient, followed by apple juice concentrate, sugar and artificial and natural flavors. You then see a few artificial dyes and towards the end of the ingredient list you read “pineapple, cranberry and cherry juice.” Despite being a typical consumer, it becomes apparent that whole food (fresh or frozen) is a winner over the processed, man-made alternative. Lucky for you, as you put down the “real” fruit juice, the “real” fruit section is only a few aisles away.
The ultimate goal of any individual seeking a more wholesome diet is to prioritize foods with real ingredients and to emphasize foods with little or no ingredients. It may seem out of the question at this point in your nutritional journey, but never overlook the importance of striving to build a plant-strong diet, complimented with some of your “old” favorites. As you navigate around the aisles of the grocery store, you will still need to keep a watchful eye on as many of those recommended “perimeter” food items (ex. yogurt, milk, meat, cheese) have been highly processed in order to better appeal to the average consumer. As you build a foundation of vibrant produce, it’s important to extend from your plant-based meals and snacks and consume wholesome whole grains, non-fat dairy, quality protein, beans, nuts, seeds and heart-healthy oils.
Understanding that nutrition is a journey, create a “good, better, best” system to keep you enjoying new or improved whole-food changes. If you can’t seem to give up your favorite artificially flavored yogurt for your afternoon snack, how about taking this “good” item and committing to a change of taking half of your normal portion of your favorite yogurt and replacing the other half with non-fat plain yogurt. Once you feel more comfortable with this “better” option, perhaps you will feel more comfortable with the “best” option of non-fat plain yogurt topped with fresh fruit. Who knows, maybe down the road you will find yourself craving fruit more often throughout the day. This type of strategy works really well in learning how to create a healthy relationship with food as you will never find yourself “giving up” your favorite foods but rather, learning to appreciate a more whole-food diet.
As you continue to read food labels in order to work your way from good, better to best, be sure to pay attention to a few key words that may stick-out when you are evaluating your boxed, bagged, canned, jarred, bottled or frozen food choices.
1) Sugar – It comes in many forms! Check for agave syrup or nectar, apple juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, fructose, glucose or dextrose, grape juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS – corn syrup with some of its glucose converted into fructose), honey, maple syrup, molasses, orange juice concentrate, raw sugar, table sugar, confectioner’s sugar, baker’s sugar and powdered sugar.
Helpful Tip: 1 tsp sugar = 4g sugar on a food label. Control your intake to 25g/day and 35g/day of added sugar for women and men, respectively. If sugar is listed on the ingredient list, sugar is added to the product (man-made). If sugar is not listed in ingredient list but grams of sugar are on the food label, sugar is naturally occurring (nature-made) (3).
2) BPA – bisphenol A is a building block of plastic that’s in the epoxy resin used to line most cans and is common in plastic bottles that have a #7 or #3 recycling code. Some animal studies suggest that exposure to BPA early in life may alter behavior and may increase the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. As of now, if you are otherwise healthy, choose canned products occasionally and increase nutrient density by adding fresh veggies to a pot containing canned soup.
Helpful Tip: Eden organics uses BPA-free cans or you can choose cartons, pouches, raw or frozen items which are free of BPA (4).
3) rBST - Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST) is a genetically engineered drug injected into dairy cows to increase milk production. It was approved by the FDA in 1993. rBST has been shown to elevate levels of IGF-1 (a powerful growth hormone) which may increase risk of many types of cancers.
Helpful Tip: Look for the rBST –free seal/stamp. Most milks are free of rBST and there is little current credible evidence that consuming milk from a cow free of rBST will increase your risk of cancer. As the research continues, be mindful that if you choose alternative “dairy” substitutes (instead of cow’s milk) to meet calcium and protein needs, be sure that you read the nutrition label for added ingredients such as artificial flavorings and sugar. When finding your “good, better, best” option, always compare nutrients such as calcium, fat, sugar, protein and sodium to meet your fitness and health needs. (5).
1) U.S. Food and Drug administration (2009). Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) requirements (8/94-2/95). Retrieved Feb 13, 2012 from http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/Inspections/InspectionGuides/ucm074948.htm
2) Nutrition Action Healthletter, Jan/Feb 2010, pg. 4.
3) Nutrition Action Healthletter, Jan/Feb 2012, pg. 8.
4) International Diary Foods Association (2012). IDFA position on bovine somatotropin (bST or bGH). Retrieved Feb 13, 2012 from
-Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N
Marni works as a PRN Clinical Dietitian at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC and provides one-on-one consulting at Spa Me in Jacksonville, FL. Marni is a Registered Dietitian, holding a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. As an elite endurance athlete, she is also a Level-1 USAT Coach and a 5x Ironman finisher. Marn is a 110% play harder and Oakley Women ambassador. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Fitness Magazine, The Florida Times-Union Shorelines, Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to IronGirl.com, USAT multisport zone and Lava online.
Wholesome navigating in the grocery store