Monday, December 28, 2009

Sensible shopping... and other ideas

I'm definitely a 'ducks-in-a-row' kind of person. When I undertake a project, I like to have all the relevant information and the necessary tools to hand before I start. This style of thinking led me to realise that if I want to help anyone change their lifestyle, I need to supply the
whys.and.wherefores at the outset.
Working with my nutrition clients, I have often found that they struggle with (self-imposed) time constraints. Time constraints can be changed, though this has to be a fairly slow and gradual process (I'll come back to time management another day). The same goes for eating habits. These, too, can be changed. After all, a habit is just that - a habit.
We can 'give up' alcohol. We can 'give up smoking'. But we cannot 'give up' eating. It is all about making choices - and living with the consequences.
A very useful tool to use at the beginning of lifestyle change is a diary or journal. A little notebook that fits in a pocket or handbag, or a file on the desktop - whatever is convenient. Whenever you eat or drink anything, jot it down with the time and a reason (habit, mealtime, hungry, thirsty). Do this for a week, and then review the information. It can be a revealing exercise.
Eating needs to be balanced; wise food choices and considered portion sizes to fulfill the body's needs. Notice I said needs, not wants.
Changing your style of eating requires a fair amount of planning. I have done a lot of the work for you by supplying the recipes and (partial) shopping list, but you still have to have a rough idea of what you will buy to eat for breakfasts and lunches. Even if you follow my recipes religiously, you will not magically improve your health - unless you have been eating burgers and chips every night! Some thought is required.
Having said that, I guess some pointers on wise shopping are in order. People are, generally, fairly orderly - we start at one end of the shop, go up and down the aisles until we reach the other end, and then proceed to the check-out.
Most supermarkets are laid out with the fresh foods around the perimeter. Of course we still need to cruise some of the aisles - we need toothpaste, washing powder, tinned foods, frozen fish etc - but most of our eating needs can be satisfied around the walls.
Fruit and vegetables: Buy only what you need. Buy loose when possible (generally cheaper, and you can check the condition). Buy the best you can afford. Don't buy stuff because it is on special unless you know you will use it before it spoils.
Eggs and dairy: Buy low-fat or, better still, fat free. If you feel you can't make the switch to fat free in one step, then switch to low fat this month and fat free next month. If you have children under two years of age they still need full fat milk, yoghurt and cheese, so you will be buying full fat products for them - that doesn't mean you have to use full fat for yourself. I usually buy the large size eggs, an egg is an egg after all. I used to buy the Omega 3 variety, but I'm really not sure that the amount of Omega 3 I get from my two eggs a week warrants the price difference. I do buy free-range or grain-fed - on humanitarian grounds.
Meat: Pick the leanest cuts possible - yes, you will pay a bit more, but everything you're paying for, you can eat. On the same basis, buy off-the-bone (unless you're buying shin for soup) - why pay for bone weight?
Poultry: I usually buy chicken from a wholesaler - it is a bit cheaper, but you do need to have freezer space available. Buy un-frozen so you can package it according to need before freezing it yourself. Otherwise you can end up with a solid kilo lump of chicken which takes ages to thaw - and has to be used immediately.
Fish: We are not exactly spoiled for choice in the Highveld. There is hake. There is haddock (which, though technically a totally different breed, is just dyed hake in this country). There is Cape whiting. Then there are kingklip, salmon and trout - all horrendously priced. I don't understand why, because we have trout fisheries in this country. You can only get reasonably priced trout if you go and catch it yourself - but then you have to de-scale and gut it. I usually buy frozen hake and whiting, in bulk and on price. Prices tend to vary according to the size of the fillets in the pack, so 'petite' are the least expensive.
Bakery: Go for whole wheat and whole grain products - the same applies to breakfast cereals.

Ready? Shopping list in hand? Oh, did you want the link for the recipes and list for Week 1 again?Here is the shopping list for Week 1.
And now go here for the recipes.
Or you can scroll down to "Week 1 recipe re-run on screen" dated December 20th.

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