Importance of Healthy and Natural Foods

Until quite recently, 'healthy' shopping meant shopping in a health food store, sometimes called a natural foods store. Now, however, most major supermarkets have extensive health foods and organics sections. This shows that the demand for these products is way up; healthy eating and natural foods is finally going mainstream! While this is a good thing, it also means more choices, which can be confusing, especially if you are new to the field.

Importance of Healthy and Natural Foods

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While it's not my job to tell you where to shop, you may want to familiarize yourself with a well-stocked health food store and do most of your shopping there for a while. You may be tempted to stick with your supermarket, thinking it's more convenient (such as for nonfood purchases) and cheaper. This can be true, but a store that specializes in natural foods can be an easier way to get yourself comfortable with the many choices in this realm. Furthermore, you will not be tempted by the vast amounts of unhealthy foods sold by the truckload at regular supermarkets! Once you are more familiar with natural foods and know what you are looking for, you can always price shop and return to the regular markets.

Healthy, Natural and Organic: what's in a name?

First of all, if you want to eat healthy, and help you in losing weight you're going to have to start reading ingredient labels, as dull and time-consuming as this can be. You don't really have to spend a lot of time going over every line of an ingredient list; you can quickly learn to 'speed read' and learn what to watch for.

When you start shopping for natural foods, you will quickly learn that many foods are labeled 'natural,' 'all natural' and 'organic.' These can be tricky to even the most savvy shopper. 'All natural' simply means that the product does not contain ingredients deemed 'artificial' by the FDA. Such products can still contain lots of ingredients you may want to avoid or limit such as excessive sugar or salt, the two biggies. If a product has the world 'natural' on the package but doesn't say 'all natural,' be careful. It might very well have a combination of natural and artificial ingredients, which means it's not all natural foods.

What is Organic Food?

'Organic' is even trickier, as there are various standards used to allow this description. In general, however, organic means that no harmful pesticides were used in the creation of the product. In the case of vegetables or fruits, it means that they weren't sprayed with such chemicals. In the case of dairy or meat, it means the animals were fed on an organic diet. 'Organic,' like 'all natural' doesn't mean it's necessarily good for you. Organic products can and often do contain large quantities of sugars and sodium. More on this later.

In general, it's a good idea to buy as much all natural, preferably organic diet, though an all organic diet can be difficult and expensive to adhere to; there is no need to be a purist. This is not as hard as it might sound, especially now, when so many companies are clamoring to meet the demand for healthier products.

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