In the era of Click list, Instacart and Amazon delivery, I am still an old time shopper. The grocery store is a playground for food geeks like me. I like to pick out my own produce, see what’s new on the shelves, talk to the guy stocking veggies and taste samples when they’re out.

I recently provided a grocery tour for a lovely couple that had some health issues. She has Crohn’s and her husband suffered a stroke a few months ago. Their daughter-in-law bought them a tour for Christmas. What a great gift of health! I enjoyed asking them questions about how they shop and cook and what information would be most helpful. Below are some of the questions I answered for them:

What does the % Daily Value mean on a label?  The % Daily Value (DV) refers to the % of nutrient in the food you are eating, compared to the amount you need for an entire day.  All food labels are based on a 2000 calorie diet.  If a nutrient contains 5% or less of a nutrient, it is LOW in that nutrient.  If it contains 20% or more of a nutrient, it is HIGH in that nutrient.  A food containing 3% of the DV for fat is low in fat.  A food containing 20% of the DV for saturated fat is high in saturated fat.

How do I know a food is low fat?  Low-fat foods contain 3 grams of fat or less for every 100 calories.  For example, if a food has 300 calories, it should contain 9 total grams of fat or less.  There are 9 calories for every gram of fat.  A low-fat food contains 30% or less of calories from fat.  When buying meat (beef, poultry), look for 90% lean or higher.  Limit saturated and trans fat when possible.  Saturated and trans fat are solid at room temperature.    Low fat food:  Calories: 200/serving, fat grams 6/serving.  6 x 9/200 = 54/200 = 27% fat.

What is considered a low sodium food?

A low sodium food will have 140 mg of sodium per serving or less.  If a produce has 5% or less of the daily value (DV) of a nutrient, it is low in that nutrient. Anything above 20% of the DV on the food label is high sodium (most frozen meals, canned soup, sauce or beans, processed meats, etc).  Individuals with hypertension, over 50 or African American are advised to consume no more than 1500 mg sodium per day,

How much fiber should I eat?  Women need 25-30 grams/day and men ~38-40/day.  How much should be in my breakfast (or snack) cereal?  Look for 5 or more grams of fiber/serving of cereal and ideally < 5-7 grams of sugar/serving.  You can blend cereals together to reduce sugar.

How much sugar should I have in my diet?  Less is best!  Your sugar ‘allowance’ should be no more than 10% of calories consumed.  For a 2000 calorie diet, 10% is 200 calories or 50 grams of sugar/day (200/4 calories/gram = 50 grams).  There is 1 tsp of sugar for every 4 grams of sugar.

How can I tell if a grain is a ‘whole’ grain’?  Look for the word WHOLE in the ingredients.  If it is made with refined or enriched flour, it is not whole.  If the bread is white, but has a significant amount of fiber, it is likely enriched with non-whole fibers such as chicory root, cellulose, inulin or others.  These types of fibers can produce more bacteria in your gut, which may lead to gas and bloating.

Should I buy organic?  Organic fruits and vegetables may still have pesticides.  Animals that are raised organically will not be exposed to added hormones or antibiotics and are often grass fed, VS grain fed.  The produce below may be higher in pesticides, but still meets FDA standards for pesticide content. Eating more produce is more important than buying organic. Check out www.safefruitsandveggies for pesticide content

Apples             Cherries                                   Peaches           Nectarines

Bell peppers    Grapes (imported)                  Pears               Spinach

Celery              Lettuce                                    Potatoes          Strawberries

If you’re interested in a store tour with me or for a gift, contact me@ lisa@soundbitesnutrition.com

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