How to Navigate A Healthy Eating Habit in A Society That Sets You Up to Fail

 The fact of the matter is that the food game has changed significantly over the past 50 years. You can’t just walk into a grocery store and leave with some ingredients to make dinner without a degree of detective work.

These days, if you don’t do proper vetting of the food that goes into your mouth, you could be suffering from a litany of health issues years down the line. And most Americans don’t.

We have to eat like our lives depend on it. Because it does.

A day in life shopping for the healthiest foods…

Let’s say you finally have done all the research you wanted to get done on the eating style that best fits your lifestyle, whether that’s plant-based, paleo, keto, food combining, or Ayurveda.

Priority zero, if applicable.

You go to a farmers market and purchase locally grown/raised food directly from the farmer who has sustainable and regenerative practices.

This way you can cut out the middleman. Get to know your farmer and his or her practices. Ideally, this is the most health-focused way for ourselves and our planet we can get our food.

Priority one. Looking for the right labels.

You have to make sure your labels are good to go. Now why are these important? Without any of the standards these labels place on your food, you are putting chemicals into your body that disrupt numerous bodily systems. While it’s not the best system ever, it’s what we have.

Organic: a label that signifies no use of synthetic pesticides or herbicides, i.e. Roundup. If the label is on an animal product, then that animal ate an organic diet during its lifetime and was not administered antibiotics or hormones.

Non-GMO: The food was not genetically modified. This is assumed under the organic label.

Grass-Fed: not regulated closely, but for the majority of an animal‘s lifetime, it was on a natural grass grazing diet. This does not mean it was grass-fed the entire time.

Grass-finished: from birth until harvesting, the animal was on a grass grazing diet.

Wild-caught: used for marine life. Refers to the fish being caught in its natural environment.

Certified Humane: The producer meets the animal care standards by the American Humane Association.

Pasture-raised: This not only applies to grazing animals, this also applies to chickens.

Priority two. Looking for the wrong labels.

But you also have to make sure that you’re not falling for deceiving labels, i.e. natural, cage-free, -free, lite, “heart-healthy,” low ___, fortifier with___, etc.

Sometimes processed foods will throw the label “Vegan” or “Natural” or “Natural Flavors” on their food products in an attempt to mislead consumers into believing their product is healthy.

The funny thing about these deceiving labels is that “natural flavors” are concocted in a lab. Here’s how they do it.

The term “natural” is not regulated, so that label can be thrown on pretty much anything.

As for the term cage-free, you don’t know if the farm is letting the chicken out all day or if they get two minutes of sun exposure via a window. All you know is that they’re not in a cage.

The same goes for free-range. Free-range simply means for a part of the day, the chicken has outdoor access. It does not mean they are running freely through the farm all day. It doesn’t even mean they have full-body outdoor access. A “pop hole” suffices for this requirement.

Priority three. Read the ingredients list.

Once you figure out your labels, you have to thoroughly peruse the myriad of ingredients on the ingredients list of every food product you buy if you buy food other than whole food options.

You have to ensure there are no harmful food additives, artificial colors, or preservatives. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the chemicals getting pumped into our food due to their low cost for large corporations.

Some to watch out for:

  • BHT
  • Corn syrup/high fructose corn syrup/corn syrup solids
  • Dextrose
  • Polysorbate 60
  • Red-40
  • Yellow 5 & 6
  • MSG (also comes in the form of yeast extract)
  • Potassium Sorbate
  • Carageenan
  • Maltodextrin
  • Cellulose Gum

You have to verify if the food actually has zero trans fat (hint: hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils as well as mono- and diglycerides are trans fats).

You might have to Google an ingredient or two because more and more additives are forged in labs every day.

Okay, great, the shopping is over.

Let’s get to the eating.

On Snacking.

Snacking in between meals causes spikes in the blood sugar that would have otherwise remained level. This is why you have to balance each meal appropriately with a protein-fat-fiber ratio that fits your needs.

While plenty of people asks me what are the best and healthiest snacks to eat, my answer is no snack at all!

A balanced meal is healthier than any snack can be. Nevertheless, we are all human and if you do need a snack, ensure it is just as balanced as your meals are.

Some great snack blends are listed below:

  • Apple with nut butter
  • Dried figs, walnuts, & jerky
  • Pineapple, coconut butter, & macadamia nuts
  • Hummus, carrots, & celery
  • Hard-boiled eggs & raw cashews
  • Smoked salmon & 1/2 an avocado

For optimal health, your plate should be 75% vegetables, regardless of your diet preference since many vegetables fit into a Paleo, Mediterranean, vegan, vegetarian, keto, Ayurvedic, plant-based, low-carb, low-fat diet.

For these vegetables, aim to diversify the kinds of vegetables you’re eating as well. Eat a colorful diet of dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, pulses like lentils and beans, non-starchy vegetables, and root vegetables.

Your gut bugs love this diversity.

Learn how to restore your gut health here if you’re facing gut issues.

Here are some great balanced meal ideas:

Check out this complete guide on how to eat healthily overall if you don’t know where to start.

Our parents and grandparents may have lived in a time where you could trust what you buy for the grocery store. But that time is long gone.

We have to be detectives in the grocery store fighting for our health every…single…day.

Should you feel angry that the same loved brands have fewer chemicals and more safe ingredients abroad?


Your say, your vote comes with your dollar. Buy safer brands. Buy the whole foods option.

Because your life depends on it.

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