A Different Approach to Eating Healthier

One of the things Laurie & I love when people are looking to change their lives is helping to show them how to streamline things and not get overwhelmed. Yesterday I was chatting with someone who had decided to try and eat healthier but was getting confused by all the information out there. And let's face it there is a LOT of information out there and the be blunt most of it is pretty bad.

One that isn't though Is an old axiom that you may have heard before is that when you are grocery shopping to to shop the outside aisles and avoid the inside ones. Another is to "check the nutrition labels", Good advice in both instances to be sure though these days more and more of us (myself included) are shopping online. While ordering up your groceries online is a fantastic convienence one of the negatives is there aren't "aisles" you go down and while most stores do have the ability to show you the nutritional label or info, it can be difficult to find or even read. It can be very frustrating. And as I said our goals is to make things easier and not get overwhelmed so let's pivot a bit on those 2 axioms and bring them into today's world. Here's how I'd approach things when shopping.... The basics:

  • Whole foods

  • Try to keep the ingredient list down (1 being idea like say an orange) and no more than 5 ingredients

  • Food that is close to its original form as possible

  • Organic or local if possible

  • Minimal or no packaging

Next Avoid

  • foods you know have added sugars (Soda, Cookies, etc)

  • Other sweeteners

  • Hydrogenated and fractionated oils such as corn or palm oil (source of trans fat)

  • Additives and preservatives

  • Artificial colors (FD&C Blue #1)

  • Ingredients you don’t recognize

  • Again look for foods that have 1 ingredient and no more than 5 ingredients

if you can find the nutition info watch out for:

  • “Syrup” – corn syrup, brown rice syrup, agave syrup, etc.

  • Words ending in “ose” – sucrose, glucose, fructose, etc.

  • Words starting with “malto” – maltodextrin, maltitol, etc.

  • “Made with/contains real fruit”

  • “Fortified with"

Also understand that some of the terms used are not what you might think. They're often used to make you think something is healthier than it really is. Some examples:

  • Natural - Defined by USDA as to not contain artificial ingredients or preservatives and is minimally processed, but it may contain antibiotics, growth hormones and other similar chemicals.

  • All Natural - not defined any differently from ‘Natural” by the USDA.

  • Organic - Contains 95% of organically produced ingredients. Not produced with antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, etc. Tightly regulated by USDA.

  • 100% Organic - Made only with organic ingredients.

  • Made with Organic Ingredients - Must contain at least 70% organic ingredients

  • Cage Free/Free Range - Animals are not contained in any way and allowed to roam. Not tightly regulated so producers have been allowed to keep animals closely confined without cages.

  • Grass Fed - Animals are allowed to graze on a range, but can still be contained. Not closely regulated by USDA.


Prioritize ingredients over calories. Calories really aren’t that helpful when it comes to nutrition and weight loss. It doesn’t really matter the number of calories, fat and sugar a product has if the ingredients suck. Look for a short list of ingredients you recognize.

If you are comparing two similar items look for more of the things you want (protein and fiber) and less of the things you don’t want (sugar and salt).

Don’t be fooled by what the front of the package says. The more it has to convince you it is healthy the more suspicious you should be. Kale knows it’s all that! “Organic sugar” is still sugar.


Labels can be deliberately misleading. Consumers think that if it says it is healthy then it must be, not true! Is a ‘natural’ granola bar that contains high fructose corn syrup what you

think of as natural? Probably not. Read your labels, question the claims on the package and if you aren’t sure then put it back!

A food that is ‘low fat’ or fat free may not be low in calories, because they add undesirable ingredients to make up for the flavor and texture of less fat and therefore adds more calories. Marshmallows are fat free, but you don’t see them on the healthy food list!

Also a food that is ‘low fat’ may have a ridiculously small serving size.

Is ‘low sugar’ really low in sugar? Manufacturers can use other sweeteners besides table sugar and still label it low in sugar, such as:

  • Glucose

  • High-fructose corn syrup

  • Honey

  • Molasses

  • Rice syrup

  • Maltodextrin

Also, check the serving size! If it says it has 2 servings and is 150 calories per serving then the whole package is 300 calories. An easy way to eat more than you think you are.


What does all this mean? What can you do to ensure you are eating healthy? Go back to the BASICS in this article and review the Look For section. Review the ‘What is Clean Eating’ file again.