After our three-part weight-loss series where Jette R. Hogenmiller, PhD, MN, APRN, discussed the problems with processed foods, the necessity of certain types of fats, and the truth about sugar, we now want to give you a tool to help you at the grocery store.
The information contained in this article should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your health care provider for appropriate diet changes for you.
Many of the recommendations in the earlier parts of our series echo the thoughts of Elson M. Haas, MD in the book Staying Healthy with Nutrition – The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine (2006). Haas wrote: “Basically, we need to return to our own instincts of proper nutrition… go back to the basics and redevelop our own nutrition.”
We understand that the suggestions below do not necessarily mean just a change in how much money you spend at the grocery store – it is a change in how you shop, which aisles you might go down and how you plan your meals.
Haas recommends we forget the four basic food groups we grew up with: Meat, dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables. Instead, he proposes a new basic four: 1) Fruits, 2) vegetables, 3) whole grains and legumes (beans and peas), and 4) proteins and fats/oils (nuts and seeds for vegetarians; milk, eggs and meats for omnivores).
With this in mind, Haas breaks down a list of appropriate servings that is helpful when trying a new grocery list (adapted from pg.511):
- Proteins: 2 to 3 servings per day of sprouted legumes or seeds, cooked legumes, fish, eggs, seeds, nuts, poultry, lamb, beef or pork.
- Calcium foods: 2 or more servings per day of dairy foods. These calcium-rich foods include nuts, seeds like sesame seeds, and green leafy vegetables for any diet; milk, cheese, and yogurt can also work.
- Starches: 4 or more servings per day of whole grains and other starches. These include carrots, beets, hard squashes, and some potatoes.
- Produce: 5 or more servings per day of vegetables and fruits. It is best if they are fresh.
- Oils: 1 or 2 servings per day of vegetable oils. Olive, safflower, flaxseed, and sunflower oils are the best options. Nuts and seeds also provide some vitamin E and essential fatty acids.
Now that we have the recommendations of these servings and food groups, it’s important to think about what you should actually buy and stock in your pantry and refrigerator. For more specifics on what to look at while shopping, examine the list below we assembled from Fallon and Enig’s Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (2001). Notice that the list focuses on eating as much natural and naturally-prepared foods as possible (adapted from pgs. 64-65):
- Fresh, pasture-raised meat
- Other fowl
- Organ meats from pastured animals
- Seafood of all types from deep sea waters
- Fresh shellfish (in season)
- Fish eggs
- Fresh eggs from pastured/free-range poultry
- Organic fermented soy products in small amounts
- Fish from shallow waters
- Commercially-raised beef, lamb, turkey & chicken
- Barbecued or smoked meats
- Traditionally made, additive-free sausage
- Additive-free bacon
- Factory-farmed eggs
- Tofu in very small amounts
- Processed meats containing additives & preservatives, such as luncheon meat, salami & bacon
- Hydrolyzed protein (can indicate presence of MSG); & protein isolates (a dietary supplement)
- Soy milk
- Fresh butter & cream from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw & cultured
- Lard & beef, lamb, goose & duck fat from pastured/free-range animals
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Unrefined flaxseed oil in small amounts
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil
- Unrefined peanut oil
- Unrefined sesame oil
- All highly-processed vegetable oils, margarine, tub spreads & vegetable shortenings
- Fat substitutes
- Foods fried in vegetable oils
- Low-fat products
- Raw, whole milk
- Cultured dairy products, such as yogurt, piima milk (contains beneficial bacteria), kefir (fermented milk made with kefir grains) & raw cheese, from traditional breeds of pasture-fed cows & goats
- Raw, whole, uncultured milk from conventional dairies
- Pasteurized, cultured milk products
- Pasteurized cheeses
- Melted cheeses
- Pasteurized, homogenized commercial milk
- Ultra pasteurized cream & milk
- Processed cheeses
- Reduced-fat dairy products
- Organic whole grain products such as sourdough, sprouted grain bread & soaked or sprouted cereal grains
- Soaked & fermented legumes including lentils, beans, & chickpeas
- Sprouted or soaked seeds & nuts
- Fresh fruits & vegetables, both raw & cooked • Fermented vegetables
- Whole grains such as quick-rise breads & pasta
- Unbleached white flour
- Canned legumes
- Thin-skinned fruits & vegetables imported from long distances
- Canned tomato products
- Well-cooked, unsprayed seaweeds
- Natural sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup, rapadura (whole cane sugar), & date sugar
- Bleached & "fortified" white flour products
- Commercial dry cereals
- Refined sugar in all forms, such as dextrose, fructose & high fructose corn syrup
- Irradiated & genetically modified grains, fruits & vegetables
- Most canned products
- Unrefined sea salt raw vinegar
- Spices in moderation
- Fresh herbs
- Naturally fermented soy sauce & fish sauce
- Commercial salt
- Pasteurized vinegar
- Canned condiments without MSG
- Commercial baking powder
- Artificial flavors
- Additives & colors
- Chemically-produced food preservatives
- Aspartame (artificial sweetener)
The Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) also has a few recommendations to remember:
- Starchy carbs like whole grains, whole grain breads, potatoes and brown rice, should only be 15 percent of your diet.
- To find the right cooking oils, search for those in refrigerated, dark containers. Avoid oils in clear plastic bottles
- Drink plenty of water. Experts recommend drinking 8 oz. of water six to seven times a day.
As a reminder, any change in diet you take should be done after you consult a health care provider because everyone has unique needs.
Haas, Elson M. (2006). Staying Healthy with Nutrition – The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine. Celestial Arts. Berkeley.
Fallon, S, Enig, M.G. (2001). Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. New Trends Publishing Inc. Washington, D.C.
NTA Guidelines for Proper Nutrition. (2013).