Cleaning up your diet is a worthwhile goal. But, with so many of our foods being processed, full of sugar and labelled in misleading ways, it can be hard to know exactly what is the best choice. If you find yourself wandering the grocery store wondering what options are the best, 'real' food options, certified dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD of Whole Health Nutrition, has a set of 5 questions you can ask yourself before you put something in your shopping cart.
Does It Come From the Ground?
While you may be tempted to cheat with this one -- potato chips are made from potatoes and potatoes come from the ground -- but honesty will be your real friend here. Choose foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Pick "plant-based foods that are recognizable as a whole grain," such as quinoa, rice, and barley. Also pick lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. These foods are less processed and contain more fiber which means they can help your heart stay healthy and your digestion function as it should. Besides, "the plant phytonutrients (colors) help reduce inflammation and many cancers," says Langevin.
Can You Pronounce and Recognize Everything on the Food Label?
Lots of foods appear to be healthy but have hidden additives that are anything but. Make sure you read the labels closely to ensure there aren't any added preservatives, colors or sugars disguised under another name. Think of it this way, the fewer ingredients the better.
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Was Your Animal Happy Before It Went in a Package?
If you are a meat-eater, it is best to buy organic. It means the animal was fed well and raised without the use of hormones. This makes it much healthier for you. This could also mean more omega-3 fatty acids and less of the not so healthy omega-6.
Will This Fat Increase Inflammation in My Body or Decrease It?
Not all fats are bad. We all know to avoid hydrogenated oil and fried foods but it is best to also skip foods processed with vegetable oil. Look for unsaturated fats instead. "Think of olive oil, avocado, fatty fish, and coconut oil as the go-to fats," Langevin explains.
Does My Food Have Spices or Excess Salt?
Lots of packaged foods use salt as flavouring. But too much salt in your diet can lead to bloating and an increase in blood pressure. Try make the majority of your meals at home. By preparing your own soups, cooked grains, pizza dough, sauces, and salad dressings, you can limit the amount of sodium that goes in. And prepping foods at home allows you to add a bunch of wonderful spices that actually have remarkable anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Spices like thyme, turmeric, cumin, garlic, cayenne, and ginger will add lots of flavour to your food without increasing the calories.
Will these questions help you choose healthier foods?
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