Health Advice Paula Owens

The most important component to prevent and reverse disease, experience lasting fat loss and your highest level of health begins by being mindful and conscious of what you choose to eat. Good nutrition and healthy eating is a journey that begins with making smarter choices when shopping for food.

12 smart tips to make food shopping healthy

1. Shop for real food. Stay away from processed, boxed, dead frankenfoods, and sugary beverages, including fruit juices. Avoid fat-free and low-fat products, which are loaded with chemicals and artificial sweeteners that are a toxic burden on your body and detrimental to your mood, brain and waistline. Simply switching from processed food to real food is a huge step in the right direction.

2. Be a label detective. Read the list of ingredients on every product, including personal care items and pet food. Don’t buy any items that contain artificial ingredients, artificial sweeteners, chemicals, sucralose, vegetable oils, wheat, hfcs, colors and dyes. The fewer ingredients listed, the better.

3. Shop with a list. Plan meals and snacks for the week. Download the non-GMO shopping guide and the Fooducate app for your phone, both can be helpful for your shopping experience.

4. Shop the organic section. Not every item you purchase has to be organic. Familiarize yourself with the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen Plus and prioritize always buying these items organic.

There are many significant benefits to eating organic. Approximately 100 studies show that organic produce provides 25 percent more nutrients than non-organic produce of the same varieties. Those who eat an organic diet tend to have stronger immune systems, less body fat, calmer demeanors, and experience more restful sleep patterns than those on a non-organic diet. While it may cost a bit more up front to eat organic, the long-term savings on medical care and your health are worth the investment. Not only that, when you eat nutrient-dense food, you tend not to consume as much food and you’ll feel fuller longer.

If you’re on a limited budget, priority always goes to organically-raised, grass-fed, free-range, pastured meats and eggs, and the Dirty Dozen veggies and fruits.

5. Eat a protein-rich snack or handful of nuts before shopping. Stick to your list. Never shop when you’re hungry or when you’re experiencing low blood sugar.

6. To save money, use coupons, keep an eye out for promotions and sales. Buy organic food in bulk. Download an app for your phone so you can compare prices.

If you have the space and weather permitting, plant a garden to grow your own organic fruits and vegetables.

7. Stock up on seasonal veggies and fruits; they’re packed with nutrients, add variety to your diet, and seasonal items are often less expensive.

8. Most of us tend to eat the same foods over and over, day after day, week after week. Be adventurous and buy one new veggie or leafy green to try every time you shop. Experiment with healthier recipes.

9. Shop at local farms and farmers markets. Join a co-op for organic produce, meats and eggs. Sign up for home delivery of a local farm box. Order online.

Visit the Local Harvest website to find farmers markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area.

Order grass-fed, free-range meats, wild fish and seafood delivered to your home from U.S. Wellness Meats or join a food co-op such as Bountiful Baskets.

10. Shop alone without the kiddos. You’ll be less likely to be persuaded to buy the chips and crackers, Cocoa Puffs, Fruity Pebbles, candies, cupcakes or other sugary treats.

11. Does your busy schedule prevent you from cooking or shopping? Visit the seafood department at Whole Foods Market. Select your favorite fish and have them cook it for you while you shop (a free service they offer).

12. Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy, nutrient-rich real food is not more expensive than processed, packaged foods or fast food. Buy the majority of your items from the perimeter of the store. Include plenty of fresh veggies and leafy greens; sweet potatoes and yams; seasonal fruit; pastured eggs and poultry, grass-fed butter, meats, wild fish and seafood. Minimize the items from the center aisles, except for organic coffee and tea, nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut or almond milk, nut butters, coconut flour and spices.

Eating healthy is possible without spending more. Remember, you have total control over what you buy and bring into your home. Choose wisely!

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of two books, is a nutritionist and fitness and fat loss expert with more than 25 years of experience. Visit Paula at

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