I always encourage an 80/20 rule with my personal training clients.
This principle means follow the advice below 80% of the time and take a more relaxed approach for the remaining 20%.
No one can eat healthy 100 percent of the time but as long as you are eating healthy 80% of the time you will still reap the benefits.
Here are my recommendations for your shopping list. Make sure all these are thrown into your shopping basket.
Produce: Although it is usually more expensive, organic produce is much healthier and nutritious than non-organic produce.
Ideally all produce should be fresh, ripe in season and locally grown.
Colour counts so bring home an entire rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetables.
Meat: Buy only organic or free-range, hormone and antibiotic-free meats whenever possible. Lean meat is always healthiest. If it is not available then trim off all excess fat before cooking.
Poultry: Poultry should be organic or free-range, antibiotic and hormone-free.
Eggs: Ensure that you buy eggs that are organic or from free-range, antibiotic and hormone-free poultry. Eggs labeled as ‘High Omega 3’ are especially healthy.
Seafood: Buy only smaller varieties of cold water, non-farm raised fish or seafood. Fish should smell a bit like the sea but fresh – it should not smell bad.
Buy whole, fresh food only: Read labels carefully and look for foods that contain only one ingredient. Also look for the word ‘whole’ before the first ingredient list.
Fresh food is more nutritious than frozen, frozen is better than canned. Always check for expiration or production dates on label.
Alcohol: If you are consuming alcohol, remember that most drinks have sugar added, which results in a rapid rise in blood sugar.
This causes your pancreas to release insulin in an attempt to lower blood sugar.
Insulin circulation will leave you lacking blood sugar and feeling very hungry.
You should always eat protein and fat when drinking to slow down the absorption and balance out the blood sugar levels to avoid crashing.
Make sure none of these make it into your shopping basket…
Non-domestic produce: Fruits and vegetables raised in foreign countries are almost sprayed with pesticides, preservatives, fecal fertilisers, or other harmful chemicals , just like most non-organic foods from the US.
Ground Meat: Butcher cuts are much safer than pre-ground meat. A patty of ground beef can contain body parts from up to 80 cattle whose health is unknown.
If you want ground meat buy a whole cut and grind it yourself or have your butcher grind it for you.
Frozen Poultry: Most frozen poultry is packaged by poultry processors who use hormones to maximise bird size and growth rate and must use antibiotics to prevent disease because of the extreme cage-crowding found in a typical poultry ‘farm.’
The hormones and antibiotics remain in the bird.
Most fish and Seafood: Ensure the produce is wild-caught. Virtually all seafood, whether from fresh or salt-water, is now contaminated with toxic metals and dangerous chemicals.
Farm-raised seafood is the least healthy and most contaminated.
Larger fish species are generally far more contaminated than smaller species.
Warm water species are less safe than those from cold water. If you are pregnant it is usually advisable to avoid seafood altogether.
Food with Additives: Avoid buying foods with labels listing additives, colours, preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, anti-caking agents, bulking agents, flavourings, added seasonings or sauces or chemical names you don’t know or can’t pronounce.
Non-White and Processed Foods: Avoid products with more than one ingredient. These are NOT whole foods. Look for ‘100%’ then carefully read what that 100% actually is.
Breads and pasta are actually processed foods; whole un-ground grains are always healthier.
If you must buy breads or pasta look for the word ‘whole’ when the label describes the grains they came from. In general, avoid packaged foods, as these tend to have multiple ingredients.
Deceptive Labeling: The word ‘natural’ does not mean healthy or safe. Insect parts and droppings are also ‘natural’!
Hydrogenated Fats and Artificial Sweeteners: They aren’t healthy and should be strictly avoided. Use only real butter, never substitutes.
GM foods: Genetically modified foods should be strictly avoided altogether.
Although this may sound like a strict diet, it is simply a way of eating and not as restrictive as you may think.
We are not talking about calories or even portion control but how to eat clean and healthy. You can never over indulge on these foods that I recommended.