By Shana Daniel, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
When you are grocery shopping it’s hard not to focus on the funky packages of coconut chips, dairy free chocolate chips, organic cereals and high-priced sulphite free dried fruits which are everywhere. The sushi station has likely introduced a quinoa option as a rice replacement, and refrigerator sections are gloriously featuring handy packaged mini guacamole and hummus varieties.
Consumers are inundated with choices like no other time in the history of food shopping. This pleases me as a holistic nutritionist in addition to keeping me a busy educator with my clients in the realm of how to choose appropriately.
My first rule? Quality over quantity. Ingredients will scream nutrient density before a caloric count ever will. If the first four ingredients listed aren’t your primary reason for wanting the product, don’t reach for it. We all know a simplistic comparison of calories in a handful of candies can equal those in a head of broccoli, but the nutrient density far outweighs that handful.
One of my most known mantras of ‘voting with your dollars’ I maintain. Within this age of highly GMOs, I encourage my clients to stay away from any soy products unless they are certified organic. Especially, I encourage parents to avoid soy products altogether for their children. Sushi is just as delicious with a soy alternative called coconut sauce or nectar. Give it a try. Food manufacturers are still enraptured with hiding soy lecithin in many products we all enjoy.
As lecithin is an emulsifier, it is used to bind water and oils together in order for the ingredients not to separate in the process of baking, cooking or melting.
If you look close enough, some manufacturers are now using alternate lecithin derivatives, and that makes me very happy. It’s one of the most widely used additives in our food supply. You can find it in everything from creamy salad dressings, mayonnaise, reduced-fat buttery spreads and other foods that have a hefty portion of oil.
Soy lecithin is “artificial.” While lecithin is naturally occurring in soybeans, it’s usually extracted using harsh chemical solvents. The last major concern regarding soy lecithin is that, like most soybean products, it is usually derived from genetically modified soybean plants.
Furthermore, soy lecithin was also found to contain a compound called fenistein that has potentially negative effects on fertility and reproductive capabilities.
Sunflower lecithin is gaining more popularity and egg yolks have always been a natural emulsifier. Vote with your dollars!
My second rule. Get creative. Don’t fall for the high-sugar options of ‘trail mixes’ laden with candy designed to entice you at the convenience store or grocery cashier lines. Simplify it. A creative consumer designs snacking around what’s available as nutrient-dense options. Try a school-friendly combo of coconut chips, pumpkin seeds, mini dark chocolate chips, cereal O’s and dried organic raisins as your next snack hack. Forget the ranch style dressings for fresh-cut vegetables and opt for that handy pack of hummus or guacamole – add to that with a baggie or organic corn tortillas or artisan crackers and you have a wholesome choice to power your way through your day until your next nutrient dense meal.
Rule three. When it comes to liquid nourishment, I know you’ve all had a smoothie or two in your lifetime, design it right. Is stuffing a head of kale into your blender really that appealing? Some foods are just meant to be cooked, seasoned and enjoyed. Others may be used for some added fibre, taste and nutrition in a very palatable way. Ensure your liquid snack is balanced with a healthy dose of fat to keep that blood sugar happy and you’ll never go wrong.
As spring has knocked on our doors and swim season is just around the corner, now’s the time to make your choices count.