by Keila Chaliotis, Staff Writer
When you hear the word shopping, most of the times you think supermarket or mall. Grocery shopping these days tends to be seen as a tedious part of life that must be done in order to get your food and necessary items to look good for work or school. Foods tend to be easy to do, high in sodium, fats and other synthetic toxins from preservatives, conservatives and packaging. Since grocery shopping tends to be seen as an obligation we try to do it as fast as possible.
However, in today’s economy we are trying to save a few bucks while eating healthier and burning a few calories. We can use grocery shopping to achieve all of these while having fun. We can also socialize and make it a family event every now and then. As long as you can make time to care for yourself, both physically and mentally, you can maximize the health benefits from shopping.
In today’s fast-oriented world, we are brainwashed to buy what is cheap and fast to in a microwave. Yet, not all that is cheap and fast to prepare is good for the body nor is it cheap in the long run, when you have to spend in medical bills. Another label being used is low in cholesterol and fats. It is true that food might not be as high in fats as in the past but it is now high in salts (sodium), to keep the food tasty given the lack of grease in them. Too much salt or sodium is bad for your bodies. Sodium is needed in our body to regulate blood pressure and blood volume. It is also important in our muscles and nerves so they work adequately. Too much salt in our bodies may increase blood pressure. If you already have this condition, check your sodium intake. Another side effect of too much salt is water retention in our bodies. Salt is also linked to other cardiovascular problems and stomach cancer. So we need to avoid ready to eat foods that will increase our food intake and also avoid eating out where salt is also used a lot.
Another problem with ready to eat food is the abundance of preservatives and lack of freshness these foods contain. Many fruits and vegetables provide most of their nutrients and vitamins when eaten fresh, raw or with little processing. Adding preservatives to a food pretty much eliminates any health benefits. That is why many canned and bottled foods contain the labels “Now with vitamin A”, etc. They add synthetic vitamins and nutrients to foods that can be gotten from the direct source.
Healthy grocery shopping can help avoid this. A farmers market, especially if only has all-organic foods, will have fresh produce that not only taste great but also provide you with nutrients and vitamins needed. If you like to cook, your foods will taste better the fresher the produce used. You will also add less salts, preservatives and toxins to your foods. Yes it will take longer to have food ready to eat, as you will have to cook, but can burn calories in the process. You can burn up to 100 calories in cooking a meal. Add a bit of fun and you can burn some more. As someone who enjoys preparing dinner, fresh meats and vegetables taste a lot better than those that come in cans, bottles or have been refrigerated for a while. Experimental cooking is fun and also a good way to learn how to cook healthier something you will enjoy eating.
Try it out this coming weekend with just an exploratory walk through your local farmers market. If it is close home you can walk to it and take your kid and/or couple along. You will save money on gas and burn 3-5 calories per minute on your way there, depending on the speed of your walk. The more you walk the better for the body. If you are not going alone you will also burn calories while you talk. Each minute you stand to check out the products and ask about them can burn you up to 4 calories. If you haggle for a better price, whether for one item or to take in bulk, you will burn more. If you decide to stop in the park to take some fresh air and relax or at a deli to have a drink or have some pie, your will be burning 2-3 calories just for sitting there. On your way back you will be burning more calories as you take some groceries along with you.
I used to do the rapid in and our supermarket shopping and even timed myself on how fast I was able to do the whole thing. Now, I take my time and just go to the supermarket for the items I won’t find in the farmers market, where I buy most of my food now. What used to be a 30 minute stressful race now has turned into a 2-3 hour relaxing event that I enjoy with family and friends. I not only shop but visit small stores and deli I had neglected to visit in the past. My savings are more than 20% for better quality products and my body and mind feel more relaxed.
So give it a try. Check your local neighborhood for a farmers market or look for the most visited one in your town.