Each year millions of people make (and break) the New Year’s resolution to get healthier. It can be hard to keep when the supermarkets are lined with so many harmful products, and even so-called health foods are full of yucky ingredients. Here are some easy tips to help you buy wiser, and keep your family healthy.
1) Read the Ingredients
Knowing what’s in your food is an important step to buying better. Lots of ingredients hide behind different names, and some harmless ingredients may sound bad if you don’t know what their fancy-schmancy name is. It doesn’t take long to do a quick google search while you’re in the store, so do your research. Here are a few examples of non-harmful ingredients that sound scary:
- Sodium Bicarbonate = Baking Soda
- Mixed Tocopherols = Vitamin E
- Cyanocobalamin – Vitamin B12
- Ascorbic acid = Vitamin C
And here are some harmful ingredients that you may not know are bad for you:
- Caramel Coloring = A dangerous carcinogen known in the state of California to cause cancer.
- BHT = AKA Butylated Hydroxytoluene. Also a carcinogen derived from petroleum, and can be found in jet fuel. It is found in many breakfast cereals, even “healthy” ones like Great Grains.
- Blue #2 = An artificial coloring found to cause brain and breast cancer in rats.
- Paraben = Found to disrupt the natural hormones in our bodies.
2) If It Has More Than 5 Ingredients Don’t Buy It!
Within reason. 7 or 8 works too but the main point is to be aware of all the unneeded additives in your foods. You’d be shocked to find that pickles have 16 ingredients, and Ketchup has 21! Many companies have now come out with natural versions of their products with just a few simple, natural ingredients. Here are examples of some products I like:
- Heinz Simply Tomato Ketchup
- JIF Natural Low Sodium Peanut Butter
- Smucker’s Natural Strawberry Jelly
- Back to Nature Classic Creme Sandwich Cookies (These are the best natural version of Oreos I’ve found!)
- Ba-Tampte Pickles
3) Buy Fresh or Frozen NOT Canned Foods
Canned goods are infamous for being lined with toxic BPA. Bisphenol-A is found in many plastics, and has been found to cause hormone disruption. It can lead to all sorts of health problems not the least of which is infertility. Avoid it like the plague. Whenever possible buy fresh fruits and vegetables. But if you’re like me, fresh foods often go bad before you can eat them and if you’re buying organic throwing away spoiled produce can get really pricey!
I often buy fresh organic vegetables, chop them up and store them in freezer bags. This not only saves them from going bad, but it also gives me ready to go veggies to throw into soups, pasta dishes and more. You can also find lots of great organic frozen veggies in the freezer section at most supermarkets now. Looks for things like peas, corn, and beans that you would normally only buy in cans.
Many companies are also now canning their foods in glass or BPA free plastic jars. I know that Dole sells fruit this way. And Costco’s Kirkland brand sells glass jars of fruit in packs of 4.
4) Know the Dirty Dozen
Buying organic can get really expensive so you may have to pick and choose which items you can afford to buy. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has put out a list of the top 12 most highly pesticide contaminated produce items. If you can, try to always buy organic version of these items, and if you can’t afford or can’t find organic, then skip them altogether.
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Grapes (Imported)