Grocery shopping can be a daunting task for anyone, when you are trying to put together a cost-effective AND healthy meal  for the family.  Which is better – brand name or generic, mega-sale, organic, low salt, low fat, sugar-free, gluten-free, Atkins, vegetarian?   A person could really go nuts trying to make a good choice!

Making the decision to follow a specific diet is very personal, and should be made between you and your doctor.  Regardless of the type of diet you follow, there are certain things you should look for on the labels of your food.  The big box, detailing calories, protein, carbs, etc is important (be careful to take note of the serving size), but even more important is the ingredients list below.  Processed foods are especially full of artificial coloring, flavoring, sweeteners, preservatives, conditioners and a host of other chemicals.   When we eat food, those chemicals are absorbed through the intestines and directly into the bloodstream – do you really want your insides dyed Yellow #5?  Make sure you check your supplements, while you’re at it – many of them contain shellac to make the tablets shiny, but your intestines definitely don’t need shellac!

You want to look for an ingredients list that reads like real food: for example, you can buy peanut butter containing peanuts and salt.  Or you can buy peanut butter containing peanuts, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils (read trans fat), mono- and di-glycerides, and salt.   The more natural your food is, the easier it is to digest, the more nutritious it becomes, and less stress is placed on your liver and kidneys trying to filter those things out of the body.  See the list posted along with this article for a list of additives to avoid, and additives that may sound scary but are actually ok.  Once you pick some new foods, shopping and label reading will be a cinch.  Happy shopping!