When in Doubt, Keep it Simple

by Mariel Watkins

When is the last time you checked the nutrition labels on the food you buy at the grocery store? Today, our food is covered in labels, “Gluten-Free,” “Non-GMO,” “Organic,” “Free Range,” or “Fat Free.” How did something as simple as food become so complicated? And how can we muddle through it all?

When in doubt keep it simple.

The most self-explanatory foods are those in their natural state. Start in the produce aisle. The majority of your cart should be fresh fruits and vegetables. They are usually non-packaged foods and truly are essential for a well-rounded diet and healthy lifestyle. There aren’t any ingredients or labels to read, and you don’t have to guess what is hiding behind the packaging. However, there is a question that many of us ask when it comes to produce, “organic or non-organic?” It's ideal to buy organic foods that you can be sure aren't modified in any way, but the fact is, sometimes our budgets simply do not allow us to pay more for organic. As a rule of thumb, fruits and vegetables protected by a thicker skin or peel are safer to buy non-organic, while those with thin or no protecting skin are safer to buy organic. 

So, now we've passed the produce aisle and have filled our basket with beautiful colors, so let’s talk about packaged foods. From meats to cereal, the less you see on the ingredients label, the better. Food corporations have manipulated foods to last longer, “taste better,” and grow faster by adding numerous additives that we can’t pronounce, and have no idea what they are. When your goal is to promote and support a healthy body with a well-rounded diet, it's important to know what you're eating. And when boxes have a long list full of chemicals and additives that take away the nutritional value of the food we're eating, it's better to keep them on the shelf. When you approach eggs and meats, Antibiotic free and non-GMO is the way to go. The next best thing to actually growing and making all of your food yourself is knowing that the things you buy at the store are good for you and naturally nutritious. 

Compare the following cereal labels. On the left is an organic cereal, and on the right a non-organic cereal. One has fewer ingredients and we can see clearly what all of those ingredients are. The other has a long list of ingredients - complicated, chemical names that we can't readily pronounce or identify. Which one would you feel more comfortable eating?

Keep these tips in mind the next time you're taking that trip to the store, and fuel your body with things it'll love!