Friday, January 16, 2009

Tips For Healthy Soy Free Food Shopping

For many people shopping is not fun, especially food shopping, and more specifically shopping for “healthy foods” instead of the “quick and easy, ready to eat pre-packaged foods” that have become staples in so many of our diets. That alone is enough to make most food shoppers run for the hills, so when a food restriction such as a soy allergy is added to the list full blown panic is sure to follow…quickly! You can’t put all the blame on the shopper though; our busy life styles are partly to blame. When you’re working 10+ hours a day, not counting the 2 hours a day of commuting time, plus driving the kids all over town, and trying to get at least 6 of the 8 recommended hours of sleep, it doesn’t leave much time for cooking let alone shopping for food, and food manufacturers use that to their advantage. Food advertisement after food advertisement is using our busy “on-the-go” lifestyles as the main pitch for their product, but can you blame them? They’re in this for one reason, to make money. It’s our job to decide what’s best for us, not the food manufactures, and it all starts at the grocery store. So let’s take a peek, shall we?

For starters stay away from the food aisles you usually spend the majority of your time in since most of what you’ll find there is not very healthy for you, and is sure to have soy in it. Most grocery stores have the entrance right next to the produce section, but most shoppers spend the least amount of time here. When people see the produce section they tend to see a lot of meal preparation time, and can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of different foods they know very little about. The truth is what’s quicker and easier than putting a salad together, or steaming some vegetables for a healthy side dish, and don’t worry about only being able to identify 1/3 of what you see. There is usually at least one employee working the produce section who would be happy to tell you what that fruit or vegetable is you have in your hand, and the knowledgeable ones may even be able to tell you how to prepare it; and let’s not forget the internet. With a few taps on the keyboard and clicks of the mouse you’ll be able to find dozens of recipes for whatever you find at the store, regardless of how exotic it may be. The truth is I do about 85 percent of my shopping in the produce aisles and you should try to do the same. You would be amazed at the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and with most grocery stores stocking organic produce these days you’re bound to find plenty of good tasting healthy “Soy-Free” foods.

Next, for all those prepackaged foods that are still on your list, always look into the organic brands first. They’re usually a little more expensive, but with organic foods becoming more and more popular more stores are carrying their own brands of organic foods. When you buy organic you can be sure you’re buying all natural foods with no artificial preservatives, no food colorings, and no dyes. It is still very important to read the labels though, because signs of the “soy conspiracy” can still be found in the “all natural” foods, but it’s not as prevalent as in the heavily processed non-organic foods so you're bound to find what your need. In the case where an organic brand is not available then look for the brand with the least amount of ingredients on the package; stick with all natural ingredients and no artificial additives. If you’re buying ketchup for instance, why is there anything in the bottle except for tomato related products and maybe some sea salt?

At this point in your food store venture, there shouldn’t be anything else on your list except for the non-edibles; that wasn't so bad, was it? So let’s recap your food shopping experience; stock up heavily on fresh produce, go organic when possible, choose products with the least amount of ingredients listed, and always scrutinize food labels for soy related ingredients. Using this method of shopping you might just find yourself eager to go to the food store and buy what you need; your next healthy meal is only a produce aisle away.

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