Grocery Shopping Transformation
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Grocery Shopping Transformation

I recently went to the grocery store to pick up groceries.  It was payday, so like everyone else, I go  when the money is in the bank.  While there, I reflected on what my groceries used to look like and what they look like now. If I could go back to show you what I bought at the time of my before picture in My Story, it would look completely different! My cart had Spaghetti-os, hot dogs, hamburger (there wasn't a fat to lean %), Little Debbie snack cakes, canned fruit and veggies, ice cream, macaroni and cheese in a box, etc.  You get the picture. A lot of things transpired to cause these changes: being overweight, high cholesterol, nutrition education, people I knew with cancer and other health issues that could have been prevented, celiac disease and food allergies.  I have learned to eat to live.  How we fuel our bodies makes a big difference in our health, appearance, weight, and our energy levels. You can make the grocery cart transformation, too!  With some education and incremental changes it can happen without busting the budget. Allow me to share some observations, my own story, and then how you can make the switch.

 There were some interesting things I observed while at the store. They were shocking. While I was in the produce section, a very large woman on a scooter was looking at the grapes on sale.  Shocked, I saw her take grapes out of the bag and put them into her mouth! First, that is theft. Second, which might explain some of her condition, she never even wiped them off.  These weren't organic, so pesticides, dirt, etc. were still on them.  This drastically overweight woman had bruises on her arm probably from blood thinners and wounds with pus draining into bandages.  She certainly was no picture of health.  If she did this regularly, the residue on the fruits were taking a toll.  Like I said, there probably were other factors behind her health condition as well.  The other was a woman who was probably 50-70 pounds overweight.  Her ankles were thick and swollen with purple variegated from the lower part of her calf to her feet.  Her walking was a bit challenged as she finished her grocery trip.  There were a lot of pre-prepared meals, white bread, and other high carb-high sugar foods in her cart.  Type 2 Diabetes may have been behind the foot and ankle problems. She could have other issues too. It is not uncommon in farming communities to see these kinds of scenes. But I also have seen clients and class members with similar issues come into the gym to work out, then go out to eat the very things they should leave alone! Their doctors were trying to get them to eat right and avoid the very problems that were plaguing them! Some illnesses are self-inflicted through diet.

If it is any help, in my before picture, I was diagnosed with borderline high cholesterol.  I was disappointed that the very foods I loved were hurting me: cheese, yogurt, ice cream, snack cakes, eggs, etc.  My doctor put me on a diet to bring my cholesterol numbers back to where they belonged.  It was hard, but worth it.  Why do we kill ourselves slowly with our food? Abundance, availability and addiction. Believe me, there was a month long detox I went through. If you look at what is on the table in the picture, you don't see any of those things.  However, I do allow myself and occasional treat like an Udis muffin or Alter Eco dark chocolate. It looks like a ton of produce bags in our fridge. In the winter, my freezer has a bunch of fruit and veggie bags, too,most of which is organic.  Yes there is a bottle of Coke Zero.  That is my husband's treat.  However, I do allow myself some diet pop, but drink more water, black coffee, iced tea and orange juice with pulp.  This cart load was under $100 and most of it will last 2 weeks. I cook almost all our meals at home. Rarely do we eat out.

Here is how you can begin making changes:
  1. Get your grocery ads and make a list of what you plan to buy and put an X beside the sale items you want. Make a list of everything, even what is not in the ad.
  2. Note how many items are cookies, candy, sweet treats, chips, and convenience foods with a high calorie content and low nutritional value.
  3. Cross them off your list and stick to it.
  4. Next, replace the canned fruits and veggies with fresh or frozen. Find them in your sale flyer.  What you save by not buying the goodies will pay for these good-for-you foods.
  5. Next, note how many prepackaged meals you have on your list.  Can you make some of them? Sure! Go to sites like and for healthy, delicious recipes.  Put ingredients on your list of some of the meals you would like to eat that week. Don't go crazy or your bill will be sky-high.  Pick meals with common ingredients to keep costs down. has a meal planner and recipes, too.
  6. Can you swap some of the meats you've bought before with leaner cuts?  Reduce the processed meats like hotdogs. You will have saved money by not buying junk food and prepackaged meals, so you can afford these now.
  7. Pick up some seasonings like Mrs. Dash to cut sodium and sugar down. They are delicious! The cheap store brand versions are full of salt, sugar and some fillers. You won't realize the difference!
  8. What are you drinking?  If you have sugared pop, sweetened  beverages, juice cocktails,etc.  Swap them for unsweetened versions, but keep it limited and set the "when it's gone, it's gone" rule.  Add more fresh fruit juice and water to your diet.  Unsweetened teas and coffee are another swap you can make.  Skip the coffee creamer!
  9. If you are working up a sweat thinking about what treats you are giving up, put things like 1 bag of Skinny Pop or Terra Chips on your list.  Put low fat, low sugar greek yogurt on your list.  Raw nuts and low-sugar dried fruits help,too.
  10. Swap your high calorie breakfast foods for whole grain options.  Skip the drive-thru and you can afford these items.
  11. Change your oils to olive, canola, safflower, etc.  Find margarines that are heart healthy and use sparingly. Skip the Crisco!

"But Char", you say, " I don't have time to cook!"  Yes, you do.  Here's the plan:
  • In the course of 1 hour on a day off, right after grocery shopping, cut up veggies and put in containers in your fridge or freezer.  Always wash produce well!!!! Even if it is organic, the growers may have fertilized with manure. Should it be time prohibitive, you can purchase pre-cut versions to save time. Cook enough for more than one meal and put the rest in freezer for lunches.
  • Some of you who work and go to school, set aside 2 hours on a day off and cook all of your meals for the week.  Use similar foods and just recombine them for variety. Use freezer containers and freezer bags.  Label and date.
  • Involve your family in the assembly line.  Give each person something age appropriate that they can do.  Watch out! They may nibble as they work! A good problem, so plan on it.
  • Keep the cut veggies and pre-washed fruits where they can easily be snagged for a snack.  The foods that are higher calorie should be less visible.  Same in your pantry: low calorie foods in front, higher calorie foods to the back or up high.
  • Keep berries and other frozen fruits that people enjoy in the freezer for quick snacks.
  • Make healthy, tasty snack mixes and put one serving's worth in baggies for lunches and quick grabs.

What's next? Buying organic can be somewhat cost-prohibitive in appearance.  I usually buy it if it is only 20-30 cents more per pound.  I also consider the dirty dozen list whenever possible.  Try cage free eggs rather than the cheap store brand version on sale.  Look for vegetarian fed meats and free-range or uncaged chicken.  Look for fish on the list Seafood Card from Food and Water Watch. You will be surprised how many store chains have their own brand that is more cost friendly. Keep track of the sale flyers. Use store key tags to save money!

Another step would be non-GMO.  If you have the choice between regular and non-GMO, start making the switch progressively.  It won't shock your budget now.  It also gives you time to make the adjustments in your shopping strategy.  Some of these changes will take time.  Try to make a new change every 2 weeks to once a month.  You will hit cravings and so will your family.  Determination, fun challenges and non-food rewards will help you through the relentless cravings.  Making these changes will help you avoid the problems like what I saw in the store that day.

What we put in our bodies is godly stewardship- for your body and your wallet.  Your health is worth the investment. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!  God bless you!

3 Comments to Grocery Shopping Transformation:

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food-beverages on Wednesday, November 04, 2015 4:47 AM
Great blog and great health pro business..!Got informative subject regarding business opportunity..Thumbs up..!
Reply to comment on Monday, January 25, 2016 11:22 AM
Why go organic? First, it's better for the environment. Runoff from farms is ridden with pesticides, which has an impact on the surrounding ecosystem. This means that the processing of ordinary food causes harm to the planet. In addition, that ecosystem's changes can in turn hurt the nearby human population, by seeping into groundwater or other bodies of water nearby. Secondly, buying organic food online means eliminating much of the pesticides found in conventional items.
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Charlaine Martin on Monday, January 25, 2016 1:46 PM
Hi, Tesco Views, Thank you for visiting Totally Fit 4 Life and sharing your views regarding organic foods. I agree with you. The difficulty with getting people to make an immediate switch are their perceptions. I have to start with where they are and systematically help them make gradual changes. Most often, the price differences between conventional and organic causes sticker shock.Thankfully, more stores are carrying store brand organic products. It's not quite as scary going to the checkout as it was when I first wrote this blog post. Ultimately people make their own choices irregardless of what anyone else thinks. There is something to be said for allowing people their own choices. It brings an amount of freedom. I hope to post about organic gardening in the spring. Blessings to you!
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