Bleep. Bleep….bleep, bleep! That’s the sound of each item passing through the scanner at the checkout counter.
Bleep! There go the crackers.
Bleep! A block of organic cheese.
Bleep! Bleep! Two candy bars…followed by some goat milk, organic chicken nuggets, sourdough bread, frozen meals, and natural doughnuts. No sign of any fresh produce. Poor broccoli, taking the backseat again.
As the cashier rings up the herbal immunity formula, B-complex vitamins, and colon cleanse, the bleeping continues. My mind starts to wander… “Would she still need that colon cleanse as badly if she eliminated the chicken and dairy products in her cart?” I say to myself.
I suppose you can tell a lot about people, just from what’s in their shopping carts.
So much for the immunity formula—the sugar from the candy bars and doughnuts inhibits immunity…while one item is bringing it up, there’s another bringing it down, down so low that the immune formula possibly isn’t working one bit. Sugar creates such an acidic environment in the body; it must be eaten in limited amounts and avoided altogether when sick.
I stand there, analyzing the person’s purchase standing in line in front of me, feeling guilty about being critical of a stranger, realizing that it’s more often than not in which I unintentionally evaluate grocery carts on a regular basis. As a nutritionist, it’s almost hard not to. But why is it that the greater percentage of items in a typical cart is unhealthy? Even in a health food store? America is fascinated with flour, sugar, milk and chicken. Over and over, it seems to be the same four ingredients popping up. I keep telling myself there is some truth to the matter here. Something is wrong with this bigger picture. Even in a health food store, with lots of food and vitamins, I somehow can’t help but wonder which products could be or should be eliminated altogether.
Perhaps it’s not that there are foods to be eradicated from existence, but maybe that we as a collective whole need to be aware of the consequences and/or benefits with every product we consume. Can you really expect to eat loads of sugar everyday without having high cholesterol or diabetes down the road? Do you really think you can eat dairy 3-5 times a day and not suffer from hormonal issues, diabetes, weight gain or acne? How in the world can you possibly eat wheat, in some shape or form, 5-7 times a day and not eventually develop a sensitivity?
If we as consumers could connect the dots with food and its parallel with well-being, how far would we be willing to go to try and prevent, delay or reverse the damage? Would you cut out the dairy if you knew about the direct link to your laundry list of concerns? At the same time, saving yourself money on supplements that deal with the hormones, diabetes, weight loss and acne because of the dairy consumption? Individually, how responsible are we for our health? And if we have been through school, learned Math, Geography, or even Quantum Physics, why in the world haven’t we been taught the very basic ABC’s of nutrition? How many of us out there even know what a hemp nut is or tastes like? Or further, do we understand that it has a complete amino acid profile? These little plant based goodies can brag about one of the most perfect forms of protein on the planet…so what other basics of nutrition are we lacking knowledge of? Who can list the basic cruciferous vegetables?
What we need to ask ourselves, the next time we meander the aisles at the grocery store, is, “What will this food do for me? Where will this get me or who will it make me become?” Are there foods that can clean the colon? Build immunity? Support the liver? Sure! With the same token, are there foods that can do the opposites? Lower immunity? Clog the colon? Destroy your liver? Bet your bottom dollar! One of the books that I absolutely love, and is a huge help in learning the correlation of food to health is Prescription For Dietary Wellness by Phyllis A. Balch.
So then, what’s all the hype about? What IS the allure of the “health store” anyway? A person may think that shopping at a one means you’ll be healthy, however, do we need to step back, and re-examine this perception? Is it all black and white? Or is there a gray area; an area where we need to read between the lines? Can health food stores be a haven for junk food too? All these options, whether they are actually healthy, disguised as healthy, or just a step away from regular junk food, have seemed to land under one roof. Remember, just because it’s on the shelves in a health store, even if it’s organic, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Better than other options? Quite possibly!
But what is it about the “health store” concept that really bothers me? It’s that we’re spending lots of money on food and even more money on supplements. Supplements should be exactly that—a supplement to an already great food plan. Perfect example: people spending a small fortune on “anti-aging” facial creams when these very same individuals eat fried foods, meat, alcohol, dairy, and excess refined sugar (top five aging foods in my opinion).
I’m not trying to insult anyone’s food choices by any means. I’m only trying to raise awareness that today’s health is influenced directly by yesterday’s choices. YOUR choices. Can you imagine how much more profound the affects would be if someone omitted those foods and then added the anti-aging facial cream? What if people then ate anti-aging foods in addition to eliminating the aging foods? Wow! Then the effects become even more pronounced! Diets are not only about what you subtract from your daily chow-down, but about what you add in as well. For every negative food that is subtracted, we must add in a positive food. Trying to eliminate fried foods yet still craving them big time? Examine your diet to see if you have any good fats. The body will crave bad fats when the good ones are missing. Not all fats are bad. Throw in some olives, avocados, flax seed oil, and some quality omega-3’s. Remember that quality comes at a price, but at the end of the day is worth it.
We must build ourselves from the inside out, as much as we can, as often as we can. Don’t rely on a supplement to do for you what your diet already can. Look to the food you consume first. If we continue learning more and more everyday, and take more responsibility for our health, then so we can pursue a more enlightened, proactive lifestyle.