If you’re planning to lose weight or even just stay at your healthiest, you’ll need to recognize the types of food that contribute to a nutrient-dense and healthy eating plan.
The goal isn’t to eat lots of calories, but it IS to eat a wide variety of foods with high levels of nutrition. Let’s look at ten areas and you can check your own kitchen to see how you score.
You’ll notice that some foods fall into more than one category.
Grocery IQ Test Scoring
For each of the 10 categories below:
0 – none on hand
1 – I have something in this category
2 – I have this (or a wide variety) and use it regularly
If you score in the upper teens or reach a perfect score of 20, you’re well on the way to eating clean and healthy. If not, perhaps you’ve found a few good ideas to add to your shopping list.
1 – Protein
You’ve got to have protein to slim down, and build (or retain) muscle, which keeps our metabolism burning excess calories. It offers a slow-release energy source to help you get work done. Protein first thing in the morning has been shown to be a good weight maintenance strategy. Here’s what to look for in your kitchen – organic and free-range sources are healthiest:
- raw nuts and seeds
- legumes (peas, beans, lentils, etc)
2 – Healthy Fats
Fats, as we now know, don’t make you fat. At least, the good fats don’t. You need them for a healthy brain, and for keeping your nervous system functioning well. They’re used in hormone production, and help keep your heart healthy and your skin younger looking.
- coconut oil
- fish oil
- olive oil
- flaxseed oil
- raw, unroasted nuts (or roast them yourself in good fats)
3 – Vegetables – Especially the Greens!
Vegetables will keep you healthy for a number of reasons. They’re high in antioxidants and good at detoxifying your body. They contain high levels of fiber which is proven to aid in digestion and weight loss. Whether you prefer salads, green smoothies, or stir-frys, a wide variety of vegetables daily will make an amazing difference in your health. Try to get some of them raw, and enjoy throwing in some other colors with your greens. Avoid large quantities of high-starch veggies if possible (think potatoes).
- lettuce (in dozens of varieties)
- sweet potatoes
- green beans
- … and many more
4 – Fruits – Especially Berries
Fruit is an excellent source of fiber, which means it can be helpful in staving off hunger. That’s one of the reasons a apple makes such a good dieting snack. Fruits are high in vitamin C and other antioxidant compounds such as polyphenols. Fresh fruit is usually available, but if not, enjoy some frozen berries in a smoothie, or mix them into cereal or yoghurt. Blueberries in particular have been studied for weight loss benefits. As always, a wide variety in your diet gives you a broader variety of vitamins and other nutrients.
- … and so many more
5 – Fiber
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that can’t be digested, except by the “good” gut bacteria in your digestive system. Fiber tends to “scrub” your digestive system and keep things moving, and that’s good for your health. Adding sufficient fiber to your diet daily is one of the most significant ways to aid weight loss.
- brazil nuts
- chia seed
- flax seed
- … and many more
6 – Green Tea
So good for you, it gets its own category! Green tea is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, supports weight loss and improves mood. It’s good for your heart, and helps support fat loss.
7 – Spices
Many spices have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and even neuroprotective qualities. Spices can improve blood sugar control, circulation, increase fat burning, and even curb hunger. Of course, they also add to the flavor of food! Here are a few of the “best” for your pantry:
8 – Seaweed
Like green tea, you might not expect to see seaweed here, but edible seaweeds such as kelp offer an important source of iodine, which is a surprisingly common deficiency – especially among overweight people. Iodine is essential for thyroid health. Seaweed is also rich in fiber. Enjoy it as a component of sushi, or add it to soups and salads. You can even use kelp granules or dulse flakes as seasoning.
9 – Raw Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a valuable source of healthy fats, but they are also full of vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, and protein. They are condensed nutrition – which makes sense, as they are the concentrated food a new plant grows from. Aim for a handful a day – you don’t want too much of a good thing here. Variety is good, so mix them up or rotate from day to day. You can eat them raw, toast them yourself, have them in cereals or salads, add them to smoothies, or make your own protein bars. Check Google for recipes. Homemade nut milks are also delicious and healthy.
- brazil nuts
- chia seeds
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- … and many more
10 – Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar or ACV is a beloved staple of the healthy household. It can help digestion (try a couple of teaspoons in half a glass of water, just before meals), may help decrease appetite, and makes a great base for salad dressing or marinades. It’s also an excellent hair rinse (try it half and half with water).
Post your Grocery IQ Test score, out of a maxium of 20! What else is in your kitchen that you consider part of healthy eating?