If you’ve had the good fortune of locating this blog, you likely have a “healthy” curiosity for what you eat. Regardless of whether you’re here to improve upon your diet or maybe you’re just a foodie who got lost in the health and wellness section of the internet (that is certainly not to say that “foodies” and healthy-eating are mutually exclusive), I’m glad you’re here and I hope that I can teach you something today.
You’ve likely heard it before - shop the perimeters. It sorta makes sense. That’s where the vegetables are, right? Well grab your grocery bags (I would hate to see you pay the extra $.10 cents at your local Singapore Fairprice) and let’s dive a little deeper and dissect why shopping the perimeters is such a simple yet powerful shopping strategy.
Phyto-Nutrition: Where Our Colorful Journey Begins
When you walk into a grocery store, have you ever noticed how the layout is designed? The fresh produce, meats, and seafood are usually arranged around the store's edges, while the aisles in the middle are stacked with boxes, cans, and bags. There's a good reason for this setup, and it's not just about aesthetics.
First off, let's talk about the powerhouses of nutrition – vegetables and plant-based foods. As you stroll along the store's periphery, look for the most colorful items you can find. The more color the better. Within these colorful vegetables is where the phytonutrition resides.
Phytonutrition is plant-based food. Phytonutrients are natural compounds found in plants that not only give them their vibrant colors but also boast a myriad of health benefits. They're known for their anti-inflammatory properties (if you’re already a patient of Total Health Chiropractic you’ll already know this), they're ability to boost immune system health, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Plus, they're packed with essential vitamins and minerals that catalyze all of the bio-chemical reactions the bodies needs to heal and grow. By shopping the perimeter, you're filling your cart with these nutrient-dense foods that are vital for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Time to Get Fruity
What about the fruits? Well, what about the fruits? The fruits also contain phytonutrients, but they also contain sugar, albeit a more natural sugar than processed sugar, you’re still adding calories to your diet. Vegetables, on the other hand, contain all the phyto-nutrition you need without the excess calories. Fruits are fine, vegetables are exponentially superior - the more colorful the better.
That said, if you're getting calories from fruits that work to satiate you and provide you with energy in the form of carbohydrates, this is a much better source of carbs than your more highly processed alternatives such as rice and noodles. So if you eating more fruit, you're also likely eating less noodles and rice.
Let’s Meat at the Perimeters - Protein is Everyone’s Favorite
Now, let's move on to another section along the edge of the store – the meat department. Here's where you'll find an array of protein options. Protein is crucial for building and repairing muscle tissue in our body, and it also helps keep our muscles strong. While there's a variety of meats available, it's important to choose lean cuts to get the most benefits without the extra saturated fats that can be harmful to your health. Fats are always a by-product to your protein options, but let's explore some strategies to help you balance your consumption of good fats vs. bad fats.
In regard to fats, not all fats are created equal. As we are cruising the perimeter, we'll eventually hit the seafood section, where we'll find some of the healthiest fats out there – omega-3 fatty acids. Foods like salmon, tuna, and other fatty fish are rich in these healthy fats. Omega-3s are essential fats that our body can't produce on its own, so we need to get them from our diet. They're known for their role in heart health, reducing inflammation (once again, if you’re a patient of Total Health, you already know this), and also supporting brain function, as the gray matter of your brain is made up entirely of fat.
It’s Getting Heavy: Time to Talk Fats
Diving a bit deeper into the “heavy” subject of fat, while also making a nice segue into the middle of the store, healthy fats are also found in nuts, seeds, and certain oils like olive and flaxseed. These fats have a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, which is beneficial because it helps balance our body's inflammatory response. On the flip side, bad fats – think trans fats and excessive saturated fats – have a higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. These are the fats that can lead to increased cholesterol levels and a higher risk of heart disease. In regard to Omega 3 versus Omega 6 fats you want to have a 1:1 ratio. Don’t worry about the math, let’s not over-complicate. To keep it simple, if you have bacon and eggs for breakfast, eat some tuna fish for lunch. That is a very basic 1:1 of good fats to bad fats.
Why You Won't Meet the Love of Your Life in the Middle
How many Hollywood movies have you seen where the leading man meets the leading lady in the grocery store? A few, right? It’s a common theme in films. It’s always on the perimeters, right? I honestly don’t know the stats on this, but for the sake of my credibility, we’re going to say ALL of them.
So what then is in the middle of the store? Why should we be wary of those aisles? Is that where all of the gold-diggers and narcissists congregate? Yes, sort of.
The answer lies in preservatives and shelf life. Many products in the center aisles are processed and designed to last for months, if not years, on the shelf. They're often loaded with added sugars, sodium, and artificial ingredients – things our bodies absolutely do not need. These foods may be convenient, but they're not the best choices for our health. They can contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, and other health issues.
Healthy Habits that Begin Now Add Up Over the Course of a Lifetime
In contrast, the foods around the perimeter are typically fresher and less processed. They're the foods that our bodies are designed to eat – whole, unprocessed, and nutrient-rich. By shopping the perimeters, you're not just picking up groceries; you're investing in your health and well-being. These are the habits you need to build. The habits that will certainly add up over the course of months, years and a lifetime.
It’s easy to read this and shrug it off, but let’s take a little dive into the numbers. If you can be a little smarter with your shopping habits they can certainly save you 500 to 1000 calories every time you visit the grocery store. If you go twice per week, you’re potentially reducing your calorie load by over 100,000 per year. That's a lot of wasted calories you’re saving yourself.
It’s Been a Journey: Is Anyone Thirsty?
This could be a blog all on its own (note to self - if you have questions on this topic, leave them in the comments), but to summarize, you have to ask yourself, would you rather spend your calories on delicious food, or spend them on beverages? Obviously, you can have a balance.
Water is certainly a staple in a city as hot as Singapore. There is no substitute for good old-fashioned H20, but sure, it gets boring. Juices contain sugar. Vitamins also, but often a lot of sugar. Teas and coffees are fine, certainly less sugar, but they’re not exactly thirs-quenching, are they? In fact, caffeine is a diuretic. It makes you void fluids (pee) a lot so they can actually be counterproductive.
If you’re like me, I know what’s on your mind? Let’s talk booze. Again, this could be a blog all on it’s own, but if you’re looking for results (a happy little buzz), minus the wasted calories, you’ll want to stick with hard alcohol and mix them with soda water. Mixing with juices, and even tonic (tonic has as many calories as a soft-drink), will add calories to your libations. If that sounds difficult to palette, you can flavor them up with a twist of lime or lemon.
Beers and wines will have significantly more calories than hard alcohol. Again, this is a question of balance. How do you want to spend your calories? Do you want to drink them or do you want to eat them?
And lastly, in no way does the blog promote the consumption of alcohol. For more advice on how you can imbibe safely and sustainable check out the content here from Health Direct Australia.
One Interesting Fact About Alcohol
Alcohol is a unique little food group. A gram of fat has 9 calories. A gram of carbohydrates and protein each have 4 calories per gram. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram. However, in the absence of sugar, does not initiate an insulin response. If you were on a ketogenic diet, you can actually drink straight alcohol and not alert your body that there are calories present. This is really only relevant if you’re on a ketosis diet, but interesting nonetheless, right?
Time to Check Out - What Did We Learn?
So, the next time you head to the grocery store, remember why the perimeter is your friend. Fill your cart with colorful fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Your body will thank you for the phytonutrients, the protein, and the omega-3s. And remember, the choices you make at the store can have a lasting impact on your health, so choose wisely!
Thanks for watching the vid, and don't forget to hit the like button if you found this information helpful. Subscribe for more health tips and tricks, and we'll see you at the grocery store - hopefully not in the middle.