Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Food as Medicine

Navigating your way through the supermarket

As a parent I often feel overwhelmed in the supermarket.  It's a busy place that can be confusing, noisy and confronting.  Our choices are often influenced by clever marketing ploys that try to sell us products we may not need and with children this is amplified with them vying for lollies and other questionable items.  So what do we do and how can we arm ourselves with tools to make the supermarket trip as productive and trouble-free as possible?  Here are some tips to help you make healthy choices for your whole family.

Get focused  

Be clear on your objective.  If this is to buy healthy nutritious food then you need to know what to include and what to avoid.  Being clear on this will work in your favour and you'll feel great about providing good quality foods that contribute to good health.  

What Foods Does your Family Really Need?

A variety is the answer, real, living foods.  We can refer to these as "whole foods" which are foods that are as close to their natural state as possible with minimal processing.  But that doesn't quite fit the bill since many people don't know what oats or buckwheat look like.  So let's keep it simple.  If your grandmother wouldn't recognise it as food then don't buy and don't eat it.  I realize there are exceptions but for all intents and purposes I'd like to keep this article simple and straight forward. Especially if dad is doing the shopping, since he'll want to get in a out as quick as possible with maximum efficiency.  

Your family needs a wide range of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates (includes grains), protein, fermented foods and good quality water.  That's it...it's not rocket science.  Here is a little diagram to outline these groups along with a list of healthy options. 

Healthy Fats

Butter, Coconut oil, Olive oil, Flax seed oil, 

Canola, Crisco, Vegetable oil, margarine, peanut oil and everything else that is not written above.
These oils to avoid form trans-isomers in the body which are pro-carcinogenic.  All cells in the body require a healthy fatty bi-layer to generate possitive messages in and out of the cells. Degenerative diseases and auto-immune conditions are partly a result of poor quality fats.  

Complex Carbohydrates

Fruits, vegetables, rice, oats, barley
Keep breads and pasta to a minimum.  1- 2 serves per week.  More than this can result in body acidosis and inflammation.  


Lean meats (Non-deli) Fish
Tofu, Tempeh, Lentils, Chickpeas
Beans (mung, butterbeans etc)
Nuts, Seeds, Yoghurt, Eggs, Quinoa

Caged hens, all deli-meats which form carcinogens and are excessive in sodium and preservatives, large predatory fish (Shark, Flake, Marlin) as they have elevated levels of methyl mercury, 

Fermented Foods

Miso, Soy sauce (Organic please), Kim Chi, Sauerkraut, Apple cider vinegar, yoghurts (Plain full cream natural tub set).


Spring water is ideal otherwise get yourself a quality water filter to remove unwanted heavy metals, flouride, pesticide residues and chlorine.  These things do not contribute to health.  In my practice I find that around 20% of my patients are poor absorbers of water.  For these people I suggest using herbal teas or adding a few drops of lemon juice (from a lemon) to the water.

Meal plan  

Its best not to arrive at the supermarket without knowing what you want.  And if you want your kids to eat more variey encourage them to prepare meals, get involved with cooking and express the types of things they's like to eat.  This way they feel in control, responsible and generally cool about eating. Meal planning also works well for professional parents who don't want to feed their family TV dinner.s  Pre-cooking, freezing, slow cooking and getting other family members involved can help make it easier to prepare healthy delicious meals. 

Make a list  

When you work from a list it does two things.  It saves you money because you are not buying items that you don't need and two it keeps you focused and not distracted by the advertising flashing and sounding itself around the super market.  You can stay in the zone and not be controlled by the advertising company's desire to sell you what you don't need. Simple, but effective. 

Use a chemical maze code breaker

This is one of the best apps you can use if you are a health conscious shopper.  It enables you to decipher the numbered codes on the ingredient pannels.  This is important since some number additive are safe for human health while others are linked to cancers, behavioural and neuro-developmental health concerns, allergic reactions and other serious health problems.  When you use this App you can make the decision on whether you are confortable letting your family consume certain additives.

Choose your shopping time wisely

Depending on where you live and your work schedule some times to shop may be more hectic than others.  If you can consider shopping after 8pm at night, it's quieter and more easy to get in and out, plus parking is usually better.  Alternately, early in the morning around 6:30am - 7am is similar.
Its best to avoid shopping around 5pm or when your or the kids are hungry.  This leads to tension, congestion in the shop and an increased tendency to buy poor quality snacks.


Enjoy seeing how healthy your selections are compared to other trolleys at the registers. Be discrete about this but be proud to know that 100% of everything in your trolley is healthy to eat.  Once you master the art of shopping this way it will become second nature and more importantly your are influencing your children by positive reinforcement.  

All the very best and happy eating.

Dr Tim