Before we get started, there is a first part to this blog which you can check out here if you missed it.
So far, we've covered the fundamental rules of food shopping that should always be followed. Now to go over the ones that are a little less black and white.
Tip #4: REAL FOOD > CONVENIENCE.
The more convenient a food is, the more likely it has undergone some sort of processing to make it that way. Let’s take deli meats as an example. Think about a piece of chicken that you would buy raw and cook yourself. It would be dried up and shriveled in the back of your fridge within a couple days. Then how on earth does the ready-sliced, packaged stuff last for over a week? Preservatives and chemicals, that’s how. We get that buying the meat raw and cooking it takes up more time and effort than buying it ready made. But when it comes to what you’re putting in your body, surely your health trumps convenience?
Tip #5: GIVE THE FREEZERS A CHANCE
Not to throw a spanner in the works, but this tip is actually an exception to the preceding rule. I know I said that you should avoid anything that’s been made more convenient, but I think frozen goods are one exception to this rule. Before we proceed, there is a slight disclaimer: the freezers are temptation-filled little bastards. That’s where you find the ice cream, frozen ready-made meals and plenty other junk. So please tread carefully in this danger zone. As I was saying, freezer goods like frozen veggies, fillets of fish or frozen fruit can be an absolute lifesaver. They have a longer shelf-life than the fresh version but still contain the same nutritional value. But again, read the label before you buy. If you want to buy some frozen cod, the only ingredient on the packaging should be cod. No breadcrumbs or batter or any other rubbish.
Tip #6: TURN ON THE BS DETECTOR
We currently live in a food environment that can only be described as a circus. Whether you realise it or not, your brain is constantly being bombarded with buying decisions. The main aim of businesses is to sell and they will use all sorts of tactics to achieve this goal. Let’s take granola as an example. It’s always marketed as a healthy choice through wholesome looking packaging and one-liners like “slow-release energy” and “packed with superfoods!!!”. Don’t be fooled by the misleading packaging and enticing terminology. If you block out the pretty packaging and actually look at what’s inside, you’ll find that most granolas are packed with sugar and actually contain very little nutritional value.
Another example is low-fat dairy products. Most things in the dairy section these days are low-fat and marketed as being better for you. But this isn’t always the case. Most low-fat products have been pumped with sugar to compensate for the flavor taken away along with the fat. Since when is fat the enemy anyway?? Good fats from yoghurt, nuts, seeds etc. are essential in a healthy, balanced diet.
So before you pay an arm and a leg for your organic low-fat, sugar-free appetite suppressing protein bar, take a step back and think about the basics. Is this real food?
Tip #7: KEEP YOUR BLINKERS ON
Avoid eye contact with the sugary devils lined up at the checkout aisle. As we covered in part 1, there is a science behind the layout of stores. They set booby trap after booby trap to trick you into buying stuff that you really don’t need. How many times have you walked into Spinneys for a carton of eggs and walked out with a shopping basket full to the brim? It’s called impulse buying. The reason why the checkout aisles are packed specifically with chocolate and other sugar-laden treats is because by the time you get there, you’re tired and more likely to cave into your cravings. Your willpower is like a muscle, and like any other muscle, it gets tired from use. So after an hour of successfully avoiding the junk aisles, you’re now at your most vulnerable. Whatever you do, don’t cave.
And that my friends concludes our very practical advice on how to stock up your cupboards with only the good stuff. Follow these rules and you are one step closer to eating clean and getting ripped.