I love Health Food Stores!! I almost live in mine. And thank goodness for them! They are the only place where I can get almost all of my grocery shopping needs. I really enjoy taking my time, perusing the new items, reading labels and checking out the newest craze items to hit the shelves. By the way, Maqui Berry is so hot right now, it’s the NEW Acai!!
One thing I notice often in my jaunts at my local health food store, is that there are a lot of unhealthy health foods in there too. I know this only from reading so many labels and having food intolerances I need to be aware of. Before I started down my journey of label reading (get the pocket book or Iphone app “The Chemical Maze” to help you out), I just assumed as soon as I stepped foot inside the door, that I was transported into a world of good health! Everything was good for me, everything was natural, organic, low in sugar, no colours or flavours, preservative free and sustainably harvested by happy well paid Peruvians (in regards to goji berries, maca and raw cacao!). Only when I still continued so suffer from food reactions did I flip over the packet and start really learning.
Let’s first talk about Gluten Free Food. I used to think that because it was gluten free, the food would be healthier in general. Not so, not so!!! Many of the gluten free products out there are loaded with sugar. In many cake mixes it can be the first ingredient, even before gluten free flour!! Gluten makes a baked item light and fluffy, so also be aware that other ingredients can be added to mimic this effect. Look up numbers and words in “The Chemical Maze” to find out if these are safe. The book will give you a smiley face for safe numbers and a sad face for bad numbers associated with allergies, chemicals and other nasties.
Dairy Free is another big place people fall down. Again watch out for heaps of sugar. Personally I am very suspicious of any non-dairy products masquerading as dairy. Soy cheese, soy sour cream, orange logs of melting fake “cheeze” and so on literally scare me. I read the ingredients of a popular brand from the United States and felt like I should have gone and washed my hands! So many numbers, colours, flavours and preservatives! That being said, there are some good ones turning up nowadays. Coconut yoghurt and ice-cream comes in a few brands, some of which do not contain any nasties. Read your labels just to be sure.
Sugar free is possibly the scariest of all. You may have to do your research here and find out what the replacement sugar is. Xylitol or stevia are natural plant sugar replacements that can be happily consumed. Artificial sweeteners and certain sugar alcohols can cause bloating, gas, loose stools, and have even been linked to cancers.
I actually avoid the section of the fridge that contains the vegan prepackaged food because it honestly disturbs me. I mean how do they make soy beans look and taste like bacon??? It’s just wrong! Be very careful with this “food” as by the time it is processed, coloured, preserved, flavoured and stamped into realistic bacon shapes,I highly doubt there is any nutritional value left in it!
I have three rules I go by when it comes to food shopping.
1. If it has any big scary words in it that sound like they have come straight out of a science lab…..INVESTIGATE or AVOID!!!
2. If you can’t tell what it was originally in nature (for example the vegan non-bacon bright red strips of death) then AVOID, or if you really want it, INVESTIGATE!!!
3. If it has an ingredient list as long as your arm……..RECONCIDER and AVOID!!!!!!!
It may take you a little while to get used to reading your labels but once you familiarise yourself you will become a health food shopping pro! Your local health food store is still your friend, there are still really good foods housed there, you just have to find them.
Flannerys at Robina is my favourite Health Food Store on the Gold Coast. Where is yours?