Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fresh Baby My Plate: Part 1 Grocery Shopping and Healthy Eating

I received a Fresh Baby kids plate in one of my previous Bluum Subscription Boxes, and contacted them to see if they were interested in a full review here on The Nurse Mommy. They replied with a challenge: build a healthier plate for my family. The project: show our readers how easy and affordable it is to build a healthier plate for my family from the grocery store to the dinner table. After all, we want our readers to get healthy and be healthy with us! The primary goal is teach our readers about the "My Plate" program that kind of is the newest version of the food pyramid.
Easy-peasy, right? Well, I thought so. Then I decided to really do this piece justice, that I needed to write it in a few parts. 

The My Plate program is designed to teach appropriate meal portion sizes. One of the primary reasons we have such an epidemic of obesity in this country is because of the large portions we are eating and being served. We eat out so much and eat what is provided; therefore, we're eating sometimes more than twice what a typical portion should be. Here's some information on Portion Distortion and a FREE Portion Support Tip Sheet! We Americans are not eating well-rounded meals, which is why the My Plate program makes so much sense to me. It helps you figure out what and how much you should have at each meal. Now, one thing about this program is that it's designed by the USDA, which I'm not a HUGE fan of (because of school lunch issues), but they provide a BUNCH of lists each with 10 tips for those looking to make a change and eat healthier as a family, so I'll roll with it.

I've said it multiple times, I've made it a mission to be healthier, through my decision to have gastric bypass and lose 120 lbs almost four years ago. As parents, we have to be great role models for our children- this includes healthy eating. If you won't touch it, why should your kid?! It's very important to me to raise my daughter knowing and loving healthy, fresh foods. Typically, I try to buy pesticide free, as close to organic as possible and we avoid Genetically Modified (GMO) foods! Foods with USDA Organic Labels on them do not have GMO products in them, so if you select organic, then you're also safely avoiding GMOs.

Why eat organic? Well, pesticides have been linked to a multitude of health problems, in particular- developmental problems in children. THIS SHOULD CONCERN ANYONE READING THIS AS A PARENT!!! Pesticides may also act as carcinogens or disrupt the hormone system in the body, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Disrupting the hormone system in the body is likely why children are starting puberty at 8 and 9 years old, and that we're having such a rise in hormonal conditions, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), as well as mental health problems, such as ADHD, depression, anxiety, etc.

Why avoid GMOs? Last summer, a study regarding how Genetically Modified foods caused tumors and other chronic conditions in laboratory rats popped up all over the internet, though there have been studies dating all the way back to 2008 that I found. There is a recent study published that pigs fed GMO foods had a higher incidence of inflammation in their digestive systems and serious bowel issues. So many scientists have begun to speak out against GMO foods and the dangers of diets high in GMO foods, and there are just so many reasons to avoid GMOs.  Also, even the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has warned that GMOs pose a serious threat to health. The AAEM has advised doctors to tell their patients to avoid GMOs as the introduction of GMOs into the current food supply has correlated with an alarming rise in chronic diseases and food allergies. Here are some tips to avoid GMO foods.

Okay, now I'll step off my soapbox... :)

While I'll spend as much as possible to eat organic and avoid GMO foods, Hubby is a bit of a stickler when it comes to our food budget. To stay within my budget, we typically follow the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen". This ensures that we're avoiding the worst of the worst, while still sticking to reasonably priced produce. The Dirty Dozen is a part of the EWG's annual Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce determined by testing 49 of the most popular fruits and veggies in the manner which people typically eat them. Even after washing, peeling, prepping, cooking, 67 percent of food samples STILL carried pesticide residues, according to the data the EWG analyzed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. One thing I found extremely disturbing were a few studies that found toxic chemicals and pesticides in umbilical cord blood of newborn babies in extremely higher quantities than what is considered "safe" by EPA and EWG, and have been linked to ADHD and other disorders, and even the American Academy of Pediatrics has examined the benefit of organic foods for children.

Utilizing this list is the best way to pick and choose what to eat while grocery shopping organic on a budget.

Dirty Dozen
  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes
  8. Greens/Kale/Lettuce/Spinach
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Potatoes
  12. Green beans
Clean Fifteen
  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  12. Sweet potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms
Yesterday, while grocery shopping, I took note of a organic few items on sale that weren't drastically more expensive than their conventional counterparts. Since they're in season, strawberries were 3.99 per container, with conventional being 2.49 each. Frozen organic strawberries were on sale for 1.79 for a 12oz bag. An 8oz container of organic baby greens, spinach or romaine hearts was 3.99, whereas the conventional was 2.99 for actually less product- a 6oz container. Organic green beans were on sale for 1.49 per lb, and grown in California, so not too far from home. Organic corn was .69 per ear, conventional was .33 cents- so if you're buying local and know it's not GMO corn, conventional would be the way to go here. A lot of times, canned organic veggies and beans go on sale 10/$10, so you can really stock up when those sales happen! One thing I knew I had a hard time with once I really started paying attention to what was in my food was reading Nutritional Fact labels on packaging. Here's a little guide on how to Read Labels and Breaking Through the Label Clutter.

Bell peppers, grapes, cherries and peaches in the grocery store are just too expensive, so I'll hold out until next weekend to buy them at the farmer's market, where yet are grown locally, pesticide and GMO free, and MUCH cheaper per pound than the grocery store. Though they're not allowed to use the phrase organic, because USDA regs prevent them from doing so unless they pay for an extremely expensive license to advertise as USDA organic. But these foods, they're as close as organic that organic gets. 

Another fun and fantastic way to save lots of money on fresh summer produce is to grow it yourself! This would be a GREAT family project, and it really teaches kids so much about the food they eat. Plus, if they grow it, they're a little more likely to eat it! If you have a brown thumb, you can oftentimes find local people with huge plots of land that will let you take some produce for helping manage their garden/farms. Then, there's always that neighbor that grows two or three times more food than their family could ever eat, don't feel guilty when they offer up fresh tomatoes or squash! Take it! Learn to prep and freeze or can it. There's nothing better than vegetables and fruit, ripe off the vines/trees. Check your local BST groups- make a post, willing to pick up veggies to get them off your hands. A lot of times, people won't even want money for them! 

Here's some extra tip sheets that you might find beneficial for your family: Healthy Eating on a Budget, Be a Healthy Role Model for your children, and Add More Vegetables to Your Day 

Stay tuned, there will be two more installments of this series:  Part 2: Fresh Baby My Plate: Meal and Product Review, coming Wednesday
Part 3: Fresh Baby My Plate: Win your Own My Plate Package, coming Thursday!

So readers, tell me, how do you balance healthy eating with your grocery budget?

Disclosure: Michelle from the Nurse Mommy received the above items in consideration for review. No additional compensation was received for this posting. The Nurse Mommy blog will always provide honest opinions, beliefs or experiences on products reviewed. We will only recommend products or services that we feel are of benefit to our readers. The information contained in this post is not intended to be medical advice of any kind and is for informational purposes only. Please discuss any questions or concerns regarding your wellness and health with your own health care professionals. Links enclosed may contain affiliate links. If you have any questions, please contact Michelle from The Nurse Mommy at babagrlshell {at} gmail {dot} com

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