I walked into the grocery store today and was immediately greeted with bins of foods that are either on sale or buy 1 get 1 free. I looked around and thought to myself “No wonder there’s such an obesity epidemic in the world and so many kids are growing up unhealthy!” In all directions there were mountains of white flour, pulverized wheat, sugar, salt and chemicals. OK, they had fancier names and looked pretty, but basically that’s what they were.

Buy 1, get 1 free included tortilla chips, cakes, cereals, crackers, macaroni and some powder stuff that when reconstituted, would resemble cheese, cookie mix, caramel colored chemicals that were being sold as “maple syrup,” chocolate chip cookies, more cookies, biscotti, three different types of bread, more chips disguised as “natural crisps,” powder that after water is added becomes a sort of mashed potatoes. Oh my! The list goes on!! Have you ever asked yourself how they can make certain foods so cheap?

All of these things are there to entice you, to make you buy them…don’t fall for their marketing scam! Take a look at the ingredients in these pre-packaged and processed foods. Don’t just look at the calories, but look at how much fat, sugar and sodium are in there and don’t stop there…keep reading! Go on down to the ingredients, can you pronounce all of those words, what are those things? Preservatives, chemicals and ingredients that we’ve never heard of and can’t even figure out what they are.

Instead of eating pre-packaged and processed foods, but whole, natural, real foods. Yes, I know that the other might be a little more convenient, but I promise you that with the proper preparation and more important than anything else I write here, with the right MINDSET preparing foods and be as easy as taking something out of a box and tossing it in the microwave.

Did I just say microwave? Don’t get me started there…that’s a conversation in of itself.

Back to the grocery store…how do you get out without buying twice as much as you intended to when you went in. Make a list, stick to it and don’t take a cart when you go in. Only buy what you can carry. If you only buy what you can carry, then you’ll get just what you need. Stick to the outer aisles, don’t go in the middle aisles unless you’re going for something specific. NO BROWSING!! Don’t stroll up and down each aisle, if you do, before you know it, you’ll be overloaded with things you don’t want and especially don’t need.

Educate yourself on the foods that are healthy and buy fruits and vegetables. In fact, if you have a farmers market close by, go there for your fruits and vegetables…you might be surprised at how much LESS expensive they are at the Farmer’s Market. However you get them, buy fruits and vegetables, find ones that you and your family will like.

Protein…your body must have protein to build muscle and you must have muscle to burn fat. The more muscle you have the more fat you will burn. Be careful of the proteins you eat however, beef can be tricky, personally, I don’t eat much of it, but that is my personal preference. If you’re going to eat beef, then please buy grass fed beef as opposed to corn fed. Chicken, again, I by organic chicken and don’t let fancy words fool you when buying chicken. You’ll see things like “free range,” well all that means if that the chickens have the ability, if they choose to, to get out of the chicken coop and walk around. They’re still given antibiotics, they’re fed corn, they’re still fed crap and seriously, so you want that crap in your body. Again, my personal choice is I eat pork even less than I eat beef. My go to proteins are chicken, eggs, egg whites, white meat turkey, wild caught salmon and tuna. Why wild caught you might ask…because farmed salmon are fed anti-biotics so they grow bigger faster and hardly as healthy as wild caught. If you go out to dinner and salmon is on the menu, ask the server is it wild caught or farmed. If they don’t have an immediate answer, then don’t eat it.

Dairy…your choices on dairy vary greatly, you need to figure out what is best for you. I sometimes drink drink protein shakes and I make those shakes with Unsweetened Almond milk. I’ll switch it up and put frozen berries in my protein shakes…my preference is chocolate shakes and I’ll add frozen cherries, or blueberries, or strawberries in my shakes. My honey drinks shakes as well, he prefers bananas and espresso…I don’t care for bananas, but I will make a chocolate shake with espresso in it. In my shake, I also add a 1/2 cup of raw egg whites and no, I don’t worry about getting sick from raw organic egg whites. If you have concerns, check with your Doctor. And, finally I use low fat Greek Yogurt…I’ll add it to the shake sometimes, or I’ll put 4 ounces in a both and mash up berries and make my own fruit yogurt and finally I’ll add 4 ounces to chocolate protein powder and the result is sort of a pudding. There are so many options.

So what do you stay away from. Stay away from foods in boxes and other than frozen vegetables, I stay away from the rest of that frozen aisle. I stay away from pasta, while is odd if you think about it, because when I started this journey in 2005, I was a posta-holic…I could eat a box of pasta in 1 sitting, especially, if it was covered with butter and cheese.

Snacks? Can you limit yourself to one ounce of dark chocolate a day? Can you put that one piece in your mouth, let it sit on your tongue until it melts and totally savor the flavor? Enjoy fruits as your snacks, or baby carrots, celery…you can if you change your mindset.

Soda, fruit juices, energy drinks…I promise that you don’t need them…your body does not want them. Your brain thinks you want them, but if you search your heart, you’ll know that you don’t. Soda is nothing more than chemicals and please believe me when I say that eventually you won’t even miss those chemicals. Water…your body NEEDS water. Start your day off with a very large glass of very cold ice water…it will wake your body up.

So in navigating the grocery store, be aware, make conscious decisions, it’s where your willpower starts. If you don’t buy it, if you don’t bring it home, then you won’t have it there to tempt you.

~Robbyn Ackner