By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Two-thirds of women in the U.S. perform most of the food shopping in their household, according to Progressive Grocer, a grocery store trade periodical. That means their food selections heavily influence the nutrition of the family.
If you’re the one steering the grocery cart, bone up on your nutrition knowledge and avoid these common mistakes.
Buying too many packaged foods.
“People want convenience,” said Marge Pickering Picone, a nutritional coach certified by the Nutritionist Institute of America, and the founder and CEO of Professional Nutrition Services of Rochester, Inc. “They should make their food. Children have high cholesterol because they live on cereal, mac and cheese and pizza. That’s their diet. It’s convenient but it’s not healthy.”
Thinking only fresh produce is good enough.
“I use a lot of frozen fruits because typically they’re better than some fresh because they take the best of the crop and freeze it at peak,” Pickering Picone said. “In season, go fruit picking with your kids.”
Buying into food fads.
“A lot of health issues go on if you’re not balancing your food,” Pickering Picone said. “Every part of your body runs on fuel and every fuel is a nutrient. When you have a health problem, your body is talking to you. You need to learn how to listen. It is missing certain nutrients.”
Skimping on protein.
“I’ve been doing this over 35 years,” Pickering Picone said. “I’ve now mostly gone toward telling people to follow their blood type. I am a meat eater. I need to eat red meat at least three times a week. Most people are tired and have dark circles under their eyes because they don’t consume enough protein.”
Buying sweetened drinks.
“Those liquid calories aren’t necessary,” said Amy Miller, registered dietitian with Rochester Regional Health. “People are starting to get the message about soda, but we also should talk about juice and sports drinks. They have a lot of calories without much nutrition. I recommend 8 oz. or less per day as a maximum for adults. Eating whole fruit would offer a person more nutrition. Also, most adults don’t need sports drinks unless they are dehydrated. Many people who use them when exercising drink back the calories they’ve just burned off.”
Making impulse buys.
“Meal planning is important to take an inventory of what we have in the fridge and pantry and coordinate what we need for the week and not waste food,” Miller said.
Buying high-sodium foods.
“Don’t overlook simpler foods like bread,” Miller said. “It can be higher in sodium than you think. People know snack foods have sodium, but quick side dish foods that require water for preparation, like macaroni and cheese mixes or boxed potato side dishes are very high in sodium. It’s not like you should never use them, but they need to be eaten infrequently.
Always caving in.
“A lot of times, there’s pressure from family members to buy certain unhealthful foods,” Miller said. “It’s a tough balancing act. Allowing kids to come along to pick out fresh produce maybe one way to incorporate them into the shopping. With sweets and treats, minimize them. Healthy eating begins at the grocery store.”
Obsessing about one facet of eating right.
“It’s about your overall health and overall diet,” Miller said. “Some individuals won’t eat fruits and vegetables because of pesticides. But obesity is linked to many more cancers than pesticides; we’re missing the big picture.”
Assuming small packages contain one serving.
“People read labels and they don’t take in account how many servings are in a package,” said Cindy Fiege, certified herbalist, Nature’s Sunshine certified In.Form coach, and owner of Harmony Health Store, LLC in Spencerport. “An example is a box of Rice-a-Roni reads that there are 2.5 servings per box yet a lot of people will eat a whole box and not realize that they’ve consumed almost 1,000 calories of prepared Rice-a-Roni, thinking that they’ve consumed only 280 calories as indicated on the box.”