I just returned from the weekly shopping trip and was reminded about just how difficult it is to eat healthily consistently. The grocery store is packed with processed, heavily sugared and salted, packaged “foods” that provide little to no nutritional value. Shopping healthy means eating healthy for the rest of the week, so here are a few tips to navigate the dietary danger zone that is the grocery store:
- Stick to the perimeter – produce, meat, fish, frozen veggies and fruit are all located around the perimeter of the grocery store. The aisles are loaded with the packaged and processed junk.
- Don’t go hungry! Make sure you are shopping on a full stomach to avoid temptation.
- Have a list and try to stick to it.
- Make most of your shopping purchase fruits and vegetables. They provide the greatest nutritional punch for your money.
Here’s what was in my grocery bags today:
Large field greens
2 bunches of parsley
Organic baby carrots
Organic romaine lettuce
Frozen mango chunks
Frozen california mix vegetables
and that’s all folks! Combined with all the frozen naturally raised meat I have in the freezer that will do us for the week.
Am I the last one to find this out? It turns out that the “celery extract” used in some of the new “natural” processed meats is actually laden with nitrites, the very thing those of us who eschew processed meats are trying to avoid! Here I thought the food companies actually cared about the health of their consumers and were trying to produce healthier products when in fact at best they’re trying to put a positive spin on the same old thing and worst they’re trying to dupe us.
In addition, this past week the US Congress, bowing to pressure from Big Food, decided that pizza could be considered a vegetable for the purpose of children getting healthy food in school cafeterias. For the Saturday Night Live take, check out the video clip here
Shame on them!
Having spent 20 years working in a hospital lab there are a few things that I can tell you as an insider about lab values:
- They aren’t always accurate. Expensive equipment used to process blood samples is only as good as the person operating it and the lab technologists are only human. Factor in to that that there is no lab test that is 100% accurate and 100% precise. If a result seems particularly abnormal or unexpected it needs to be repeated.
- The range for what is considered normal can be exceptionally broad, which means almost everyone is “normal” even when exhibiting symptoms of imbalance or disease. A prime example is thyroid testing. TSH is a hormone that stimulates the thyroid, the value will rise when the thyroid is under functioning in an attempt to increase thyroid function. The “normal” range is 0.35 – 5.00, that doesn’t sound so bad, but if you made those numbers into whole numbers (35-500) the range looks far more broad. Many endocrinologists are saying that the cut off should be 2.50 for TSH and many patients exhibit hypothyroid symptoms when their TSH is greater than 3.00.
- A lab test is only ever intended to confirm a suspected diagnosis. That is, lab tests are not supposed to be a fishing expedition. The doctor should have a diagnosis in mind based on all of the patient’s symptoms and use selected tests to confirm or rule out certain conditions.