Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bad Food, Cigarettes, and My Grocery List

I have always been interested in reading about and studying body transforming exercises, but I did not start caring about healthy eating until a few years ago. I've always been scrawny, so I always thought I was healthy no matter what I ate. Boy was I wrong!

I have often heard people say that "the food you eat is half the battle" and I couldn't agree more. Since I have started eating healthier foods, I have seen a huge change in my life. I feel lighter, happier, I sleep better, I get sick much less often, and I have seen a ton of improvement in all of my workouts. And these are just the short term benefits! I also have the peace of mind that everything I'm putting into my body is fuel for a longer life. Eating healthy will give me good cholesterol, blood pressure, body fat, bone strength, and cardiovascular health for the rest of my life.

I like to compare bad foods to cigarettes. They are both addicting. Our bodies, by nature, love high calorie, fatty foods. The problem is that all of these foods are terrible for us. Most of them are man-made with all kinds of ingredients that are not meant for our bodies. Sure, the FDA approves them for consumption, but the long term effects of eating tons of these horrible foods are equivalent to effects from smoking. Eating poorly and smoking both lead to a shorter life expectancy in some way or another. Poor food choices can lead to heart problems, diabetes,  hypertension (high blood pressure), and even cancer in addition to tons of other horrible things. 

Avoiding poor food choices is a daily battle. There is conflicting data on just about anything you pull off of the grocery store shelf.  I spend a few hours every week just trying to learn what food is healthy and what is not.  

My best advice is to find a hand full of healthy options and recipes that you enjoy and stick to them! Jillian Michaels is a personal trainer and health expert from shows like The Biggest Loser and The Doctors.  She has a great podcast I like to listen to each week (It's called "The Jillian Michaels Show" if you want to check it out). Anyways, in one of her podcasts she talked about what she likes to eat to stay healthy. She said she just has 2 or 3 different things she'll eat for each meal of the day. She always knows her intake of calories, protein, fat, etc. I love the simplicity of this! I took this idea and compiled my own personal menu. It was so easy to do and it makes trips to the grocery store a heck-of-a-lot quicker! I know, I know. You're probably thinking "What if I get tired of these meals?" or "What if I can't eat the same thing twice in one week?" If you get tired of something, just can always just switch it out and you can always make the menu as big as you want. Maybe you want a menu the size of the novel they have at The Cheesecake Factory. There's good things to be said for that and I think you could definitely benefit from my upcoming 'Grocery List.'


As a start on my posts on nutrition, I've decided to make a 'Grocery List.' I'm hoping it will be a great resource for anyone making their own grocery lists or even someone looking to add another recipe to their 20 page menu. I have a hard time remembering all of the foods that are healthy. For example, I always forget which types of fish need to be wild-caught and which types are okay to eat farm-raised. I also forget what types of fruits I need to buy organic and what types are okay conventional. For now I'm just going to make a huge list of healthy foods. If you want me to explain my choices, feel free to comment or email me. And by all means, let me know if you have some more healthy options to add to the list. I will try to categorize everything, but I imagine it may take a while to list them all. There are more healthy options out there than you think! 

What bad foods do you have a hard time quitting? What's your favorite thing on your healthy menu? Let us know and maybe we'll start a Better Health Blog cookbook. 

Grocery List - Vegetables

I am terrible about eating all of my vegetables. Growing up, the only servings of vegetables I got were in the form of pizza sauce or taco lettuce. Ever since I met my wife, she's been trying to get me on the right track.  If there is one thing I have learned in my research on nutrition, you should definitely consume more veggies than any other type of food. 

I am dividing my list into what I think is safe to eat non-organic and what should be bought organic. Vegetables in the organic list have been known to be covered in pesticides. I have alphabetized them to make the list a little easier to use. Vegetables especially high in pesticides have asterisks * next to them.  I would avoid the non-organic/conventional types of these asterisked veggies at all costs. The more asterisks, the worse. I hope this list helps and remember to keep eating your veggies!

Vegetables to Buy Non-Organic/Conventional
Brussel Sprouts
Corn, sweet (buy local)
Sweet Potatoes
Tomatoes (buy local)
Winter Squash (if you don't eat the skin)

Vegetables to Buy Organic
Bell Pepper**
Carrots*** (carrots are sometimes grown just to absorb heavy metals from soil)
Celery*** (generally most pesticides of any other conventional vegetable)
Collard Greens
Green Beans*
Mushrooms (not a veggie, but you will probably find these in the vegetable aisle)
Summer Squash
Winter Squash (if you eat the skin)

* Vegetables high in pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants
** Vegetables very high in pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants
*** Vegetables extremely high in pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants

If I'm missing any veggies from the list, let us know!

Grocery List - Meats, Poultry, and Fish


Beef (organic, grass-fed) – Get lean cuts of grass-fed beef, 93/7 or better, to avoid high fat content. Grass fed beef will cost extra, but you’ll be avoiding all of the horrible chemicals and hormones that are pumped into most cows. Beef can have anywhere between 25 and 35 grams of protein  and 150 and 250 calories (in 4oz serving) depending on the type of cut.
Bison (organic, grass-fed) – This is a great alternative to beef. Fat content is generally lower and there is a ton of protein packed in (32g in 4oz). Get grass fed!
Pork Tenderloin (organic)


Turkey (organic) – 34g of protein and 180 calories in 4 ounces. Turkey has to be the best poultry you can eat.
Chicken breast (organic) – It’s the leanest part of the chicken. You can also get it ground like beef and turkey. It’s another one of the best proteins you can buy with 190 calories, 35g of protein, and 5g of fat in a 4oz serving. I have a hard time finding organic chicken, but it is definitely worth the splurge. You avoid tons of synthetic chemicals, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and all kinds of other bad stuff. Anyone who has seen Food Inc. knows what I’m talking about and if
you haven’t seen it, you should definitely add it to your Netflix queue!


Salmon (wild caught) – Salmon is probably the best fish you can eat. It’s full of fatty acids called Omega-3s that have tons of great benefits for your body including cardiovascular health, anti-inflammatory, better brain function, and protection from heart attacks and strokes (200 calories and 29g of protein in 4oz). Avoid farm raised at all costs, they are fed chemicals to give them color, fed things like chicken feces, and given antibiotics at higher levels than any other livestock.
Sardines and Herring – Both of these, like Salmon, are high in Omega-3s.
Trout (farm raised) – Farm raised trout is just fine (140 calories and 24g of protein in 4oz).
Tuna (limit mercury exposure! eat skipjack light canned tuna if you want to eat often, eat albacore or yellowfin if you just want to eat it once a month or so)

Let us know! Is there anything missing from these lists? Are there any meats you like to eat organic?