Fat loss – It all starts at the supermarket!



A recent  study in the journal of obesity research found a positive correlation between restaurant food consumption and increased bodyfat. . Paradoxically one key to a thin waist seems to be a refrigerator that’s bursting with food- lots of fruit, vegetables lean meats, fish and low fat dairy products. As the saying goes “you are what you eat “, and what you eat begins with what you buy at the supermarket.


This is a universal rule whether your are an athlete a CEO , a college student, a chef , a party planner or a surgeon. It is an old cliché but still holds true – you will not be successful if you don’t do your homework first

DECIDING ON AN EATING PROGRAM – It is important to know what type of program is going to best suit your lifestyle, tastes, schedule, level of cooking skills and tolerance for regimentation or flexibility. Do you like following a predetermined menu or would you rather choose your own favorite foods and work them into your calorie range .

Do you enjoy cooking or do you eat most of your meals at restaurants and take out? Or do you prefer to reheat frozen dinners in the microwave?


Whether you are following a regimented diet plan such as the South beach diet, The Zone, Atkins or you are just eating carefully and moderately and using what works best for you , it is important to take 15 to 20 minutes to plan a week’s worth of healthy meals, based on the recipes or the food choices given to you in your particular program. Many of the computer programs like e-diets make this simple by providing a  grocery list to go along with the menu for the week.

WRITE INTO YOUR SCHEDULE EVERY WEEK -You only need 90 minutes to shop and another hour for preparing and cooking if you keep it simple

Put it in your day timer or calendar and treat as if it were an important appointment .

You can break it up over a few days or do it all in one  Sunday morning.


You might not feel like cooking after a busy stressful day and it is tempting to cruise the drive in window or to order pizza  .To avoid this problem get into the habit of cooking ahead of time or at least having easy to assemble reheatable convenience foods. Frozen dinners, frozen entrees and precooked meats are a great way to prepare yourself when the going get rough and time is at a premium. Whenever cooking always double or triple the recipe and freeze the rest.


Canned soups ,frozen vegetables ,egg beaters,  rice, dried fruit, cereal, whole wheat pasta ,tomato sauce are just a few of the items you can use in a pinch .Have basic spices and condiments on hand . Stock up on your favorite mustards, sugar substitutes, syrups, low fat mayonnaise, salad dressings and


Don’t shop when you are hungry, tired or frustrated! Find a time that works best for you and when you won’t feel rushed and under the gun .Find a supermarket you love! Shop there so you get to know the aisles and you can move through more quickly. Stay focused on completing your list.

SHOP SOLO- You are more likely to stay with your list . Shopping with a friend or with kids is distracting and will take your focus off your goal.


Try to avoid the stores when they are likely to be their busiest- weekdays between 5-7pm and weekends are when the stores are most likely to have crowds.



Remember the perimeter of the store has the healthiest and most nutritional products (although in the last few years many retailers are loading up these sections with gourmet specialities of questionable value- be careful – these diet busters are lurking at every corner.). Begin by loading your cart up with produce , next , hit the dairy , fish and meat sections and follow it up with the center of the store for pantry items like canned soups, sauces, beans, tuna, breads and healthy snacks. Fully 3/4 of your cart should be produce, meats, fish, dairy and whole grain products.

THINK LIKE A CAVE MAN – WHEN MAKING PURCHASES.- One of the easiest ways to know if you are choosing wisely is to ask yourself the caveman question – Would a cave man from 20,000BC have eaten this- Remember he had no flour, sugar or processed  foods. He could only eat what he pulled from the ground , plucked from a tree or speared as a hunter or caught in the water.

HOT TIP – Beware of big end displays with big signs and low low prices-


Avoid impulse buying – challenge yourself to stay with your list and just make a note of the temptation food calling out to you, and promise yourself you can buy it next time or have it on your splurge day

LABEL LINGO (see separate sheets enclosed)

A big part of smart shopping is selecting the healthiest foods based on the label.

The NUTRITION FACTS are printed on almost every item you buy except small portion products under one ounce. These labels allow you to compare calories, carbohydrates fats and nutritive values .

You can see how much fat you are getting in a serving or how much sugar , protein and sodium,it also lists the vitamins and minerals. It is important to keep in mind serving sizes on most labels are for small to modest amounts of food not truly reflective of the American diet(have you ever eaten just half a cup of cereal? )

New labels in the future will show larger portion sizes for more realistic comparisons.

Package claims- What does low fat , low carb, non fat, all natural really mean?

Smart shoppers are especially careful about the health claims on food packaging. The US food and drug administration decides whether manufacturers call their foods “healthy” or “low fat”

However it is up to shoppers to put these claims into perspective for their own nutritional needs and eating habits For example “reduced fat” cookies might not actually be low in fat, they’re just required to have less fat than the regular version . The same theory applies to “reduced carbs”.The original version of  products in question may have an extraordinarily high amount of carbs or fats and even their reduced version would still be fattening for someone who is trying to lose weight or deal with a health issue like diabetes, cholesterol, or high blood pressure.

FAKE HEALTH FOODS- It’s all about the image and not substance

If there was one thing I could change in this country it is the way food manufacturers deceptively label their products to make them appear healthy and “good for you”.

It all started with granola and yogurt and back in the 1970’s – Certain non mainstream foods(products not familiar to most Americans) were associated with an anti-establishment health promoting qualities and a rebellious back to nature lifestyle. The key words on labeling were “all natural”, “nothing artificial”, “organic” and “no chemicals added.”

Since then anything labeled like this was assumed to be good for you, even if it had tons of calories and fat. Certain granolas have more saturated fat than a Big Mac! Remember grape nuts commercials? Ewell Gibbons promoting the healthy lifestyle fueled by those crunchy little nuggets. Little did we know how high in calories and sugar they were. A small half cup serving is almost 350 calories! A cup of regular sweetened yogurt has a whopping 34 grams of sugar!

The low carb craze has manufacturers scrambling to revise their labels so consumers will buy.

Many have added ingredients that reduce the carbs but increase the overall calorie and fat content. Some have added soy flour to replace wheat flour , oat fiber has been added to up the overall fiber content and artificial sweeteners like splenda and maltitol maintain sweetness without sugar calories.This was the same pattern they followed back in the 1990’s when low fat became the rage. In the end you are probably consuming the same amount of calories and significantly higher amounts of fat while paying two to three times the price .


Another way manufacturers want you to believe food is healthy for you is by making the portion sizes smaller so they can come in under the legal limit for specific labeling terms .A good example of this is healthy fat free lunchmeat – the.025 ounce slices are transparently thin and listed as a half gram of fat per slice(Any food under a half gram of fat per serving is considered fatfree) but if you ate a normal 2 ounce portion you would be getting 8 grams of fat- hardly fat free!


Snack foods – crackers, cookies, that are low fat, fat free, organic, all natural or low carb. The best choices for snacks are fruit, low fat cheese, yogurt, vegetables, popcorn or any unprocessed , sugar free food.

Of course if you must snack on these goodies go with the lowest calorie and fat per serving possible. Save the starchy snacks for special occasions and holidays or set aside a weekly splurge day and enjoy.

For an occasional indulgence these are” better bad choices”

Muffins, cakes and any sweet that is fat free, or low carb

Sugar free candy, low or fat free candy

Energy or  protein bars

Be cautious of anything labeled healthy, all natural low fat or low carb. READ THE LABEL then decide if it’s a good choice!

GETTING THE MOST FOR YOUR MONEY unit price shelf labels /buy on sale and in bulk  /steer away from prepared foods

Look for foods you use frequently that are on sale  and buy extra to have on hand Store or freeze the rest  for later use.

Read the Unit price labels on the shelf – this gives you the true value of each item . This is a great way to compare national brands and store brands.

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