I hope you all had a great weekend and feel all rested. How many of you went to the grocery store over the weekend. I go almost every week. When I first started my healthy journey, I was overwhelmed by this task – reading the labels – I didn’t know what they all meant or what the heck was in my food. So, I had to learn. At first, it took me a couple of hours to get through the store each time because I had to read each item and refer to lists of things I shouldn’t buy. What I really needed was someone to tell me what I should buy, and then just phase out all the other junk.
I really cringe anymore when I see what people put in their grocery carts. Just like I used to do, I thought I was buying healthy foods for my family when truth is, I was not. I had no clue. And I really blame the fancy marketing techniques and slick packaging with promises of foods bursting with nutrients and goodness. What most of those packages are bursting with is chemicals and stuff your body doesn’t even recognize as food. So what this series is going to focus on is how to cut through all the marketing bull, and get back to basic food that will nourish your family and give them vibrant health.Tonight, we’re going to start with the NuVal scoring system. NuVal is a labelling system that was developed by Dr David Katz. The system is surprisingly simple; foods are given a label from 1-100, 100 being the highest, most nutritious food, and 1 being the lowest. I’d leave that one right on the shelf.
You will see the NuVal labels on the shelves with the food prices and price per unit. You will also notice that the fresh vegetables have the highest scores – kale is 100. Canned vegetables often range in the 20s. See the difference? Fresh is always better. Fruits are a little lower because of their high sugar content. Frozen fruits have medium values, and canned have the lowest. The more processed a food is, the lower the score. Meats are usually lower on the scale because meat is not always considered the healthiest protein source. However, if you were able to find local, pastured meat the nutritional value would be much higher (but there wouldn’t be a NuVal label on that meat).
One of the best ways to find the foods with the highest NuVal scores is to stay in the outside aisles of the grocery store. This is usually where you will find the produce section, the meat counter, and the bakery. The inside aisles usually contain the processed “unfoods” that you should avoid. Fresh is always the best quality. Many stores are also now separating the regular foods from the organic foods, which makes it much easier to find what you want if you are shopping for organic. Many grocers are now adding a lot more organic choices to their shelves due to customer demand and pressure from many organizations to get healthier choices into our stores. Once you become familiar with the layout of the store, you will find your shopping becomes much easier, and as you find the foods that you like, you will be able to get through your shopping in no time.
If your grocery store does not use the NuVal system, talk to the manager. He or she may be willing to implement this as a way to attract more customers. In our town, we asked our local store to provide more organic choices and better quality produce. They are stepping up to the plate and getting a lot more local farm goods, better produce, and more organic choices. We also have many other good grocery stores in the area so finding igh quality food in our region isn’t too hard.
Please stay tuned for more info on what to look for on your food labels. The less ingredients in your food, the better it is for you. think minimally processed, real, whole foods. Tomorrow night we’ll look at some of the most common items on a label and talk about what they mean.
Have a great night, everyone. Get some good sleep tonight!