Mindful Shopping Part 3: Finding the Good Food

In the last two instalments of our shopping series, we’ve done what everyone does. That’s right. We’ve sat and told you what not to eat. Stay away from the processed junk. Avoid sugar. It’s easy for us as the experts to tell you to stay away from these tasty, but oh so dangerous treats… This leaves us with one question:

How do you find the good food?

Labels are a minefield. We even know experts out there who struggle to decipher complex additives. And sometimes even safe additives can appear dangerous because they’re listed under EU codes.

At EMS we have a simple rule of thumb. It doesn’t always work, but we’ve used it to stay on the right side of healthy over the years.

We always choose unlabelled food as a base – or foods with no need for labels. Think about a steak or a banana. It doesn’t need to be labelled because it’s an all-natural single ingredient. All you’re getting is solid food. No additives or preservatives. These should make up the majority of your purchases, forming the main substance of your meals.

This leaves us with the labelled food. As we mentioned this can be trickier. Obviously foods with additives and chemicals can be completely healthy, and everything for sale in the supermarket is safe. It has to fit for human consumption under food laws.

Let’s not fall into the trap of believing that all additives to foods are bad.

There are even additives that actually improve and enhance the nutrients available from a product. This is where we enter the world of labels.

But what should we look at? Calories? Sugar? Carbs? Fats?

Of course however, we’re not expert food scientists. We are however trained nutritionists. So to make up for the holes in our knowledge we follow these two simple steps:

How often do you eat this type of food?

Moderation is key to balance in your diet. If you decide to eat cookies or fish fingers is this a regular occurrence? Is it something you’re having as a one off treat? Or is it showing up all the time in your diet? Don’t cheat on yourself.

If you’re having a foodstuff that should usually be on the forbidden list, then you already know it’s only for consumption in a rare moment. As long as you’re not letting the incidental overwhelm your progress towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there’s no problem. Keep on eating those cookies, or give yourself a different variety of treat on a daily basis, and it’s time to reanalyse.

Read the ingredients

Putting your eyes on the ingredients list of a product helps us know what we are buying, what different food groups feature in its composition and how this builds into our daily consumption.

Ingredients are always listed in order of quantity. The ingredient at the top of the list makes up the largest percentage of the product – and conversely the one at the bottom makes up the least. Products that have around 20-30 ingredients are likely to be highly processed and should therefore be avoided.

For instance, take a look at a yoghurt. Natural yoghurt with fruit should have a few ingredients. But processed yoghurt with sugar, fruit additives and other flavour enhancers could have more than 10 additives – a large number in comparison to the natural base ingredient, making it less desirable than the natural yoghurt.

Part of a healthy lifestyle

And if you want more support, including exercise, for your healthy lifestyle then why not have a Zoom chat, phone call or meeting with one of the EMS Fitness trainers? We have trained nutritionists on hand who can help you with your diet – and if we compose an exercise schedule for you – then we can ensure that you get the nutrients and energy to maximise your workout results.