The grocery shopping spectrum

Where are you along this continuum?

November 25th, 2020

Do you shop for groceries? How do you determine what to buy? There are likely several factors that influence what you choose to buy at the supermarket and where you buy. Assuming access to groceries or costs don't limit your choices, your shopping journey may look similar to mine:

Level 1: As a child or teenager accompanying my mother.

My mom would go to Chinese Supermarkets and the occasional No Frills or Food Basics. She'd buy all the ingredients needed to prepare home cooked meals, but also bought the cereal, Pop Tarts, and typical Standard American Diet fare for me and my brother. We didn't help out in the kitchen, except to wash the dishes on occasion. Nay to veggies!

Level 2: As a university student living on my own.

Woohoo, freedom to buy and eat what I please! I regret to say that I wasn't health conscious at all. I bought what was cheap, convenient, and packaged. Instant noodles, frozen dumplings, frozen dinners, and "street meat" were on the menu, all the time! Vegetable consumption was still low and I wouldn't characterize what I did as cooking. I was definitely in the kitchen more, but I didn't develop any culinary skills in the kitchen during this time.

Level 3: As a married woman cooking for her partner.

Now that I was making food for more than one person, there was more to consider. My partner's family ate traditional Chinese food, while my mother prepared a mix of Chinese and Jamaican style dishes. We also grew up eating different types of food for breakfast and lunch. Deciding what to eat meant finding something that we both enjoyed, and embracing new and different foods. You don't just buy what you like, but also take into consideration what your other half enjoys. You start to look at the "claims" on the boxes (e.g. low-fat, low-sugar, etc.) We start to incorporate more plants into our diet. We'd cook half the time, and order take out for the rest of the week. If we're lucky, we got food from the parents and in-laws.

Level 4: You get more comfortable in the kitchen, and you become more cognizant of the food you're eating.

You don't just buy based on taste, but look at the nutritional information (i.e. total calories, fat) in additional to the claims on the box. Of course, you're trying to get what's best for your family. You may still view food as a source of fuel, not as the foundation of good health. You continue to shop in most aisles of the supermarket. While you try to cook more often, you may still end up ordering take-out because you don't have time.

Level 5: You realize that the food industry doesn't have your health or best interests at heart.

Nutritional claims on the box no longer trick you - you know they're misleading and don't mean a thing. While you pay attention to the nutritional information, you're more focused on that ingredient list. Your keen eye can now identify all the "not so good" ingredients, and you're able to identify what's healthful and what's not. You're comfortable making swaps for better ingredients (e.g. gluten-free tamari sauce or coconut aminos instead of traditional soy sauce). Shopping in the supermarket means mostly sticking to the periphery with less interaction in the aisles. You buy more whole food-ingredients, things that do not have labels. You dine-out or order-in because it's a conscious decision, not because you didn't have time to cook.

Level 6: Boss mode.

You make 80-90% of what you eat from scratch - bread, granola, cookies, and/or milk. You make your own kale chips, salad dressings, spice mixes, etc. You grow your own vegetables and fruits or purchase from your local Farmer's market. Everything you make or cook is focused on culinary or therapeutic nutrition; food doesn't just provide fuel, it revitalizes and strengthens your body to be the best version of itself.

You might be between levels, or you might go from one level to another depending on your schedule and comfort level. Don't compare yourself to others, but keep moving forward! When we continue to make better choices for ourselves, the demand for better choices will increase. The tide is changing, and many of us realize that the food-like substances we ate (or continue to eat) are linked to many of our chronic illnesses of today.

If you're interested in making healthier choices at the supermarket, be sure to sign up for future posts! Or, if you're ready to dive in and make change happen, connect with me. I'd love to chat!

- Janet

Copyright © 2021 JCL Wellness.
All rights reserved.