Why do people make the choices they do at the supermarket? What compels them to eat better? What confuses them the most when it comes to shopping healthier? These are all questions the food industry try to answer and keep a thumb on. I like to take it a step further and meet real people with real answers to those questions. In this healthy shopper series, I hope to highlight different people making everyday choices at the supermarket.
I would like to introduce you to our first healthy shopper, Jennie Green of Skinny Green. I actually grew up with Jennie in a small town in Tennessee. I recently reconnected with her through Facebook and have seen her take control of her health through healthy eating and exercise. She is wife and mom of 2 kids living in Middle Tennessee. You can learn about why she started her blog, Skinny Green, here. I encourage you to read it. Her journey that starts as a goal becomes a mission for health and life.
When and why did you start your journey of a healthier lifestyle?
The most important reason I changed my eating habits was because I lost my Dad to heart disease. I wanted to make sure that I educated myself and my family on how to eat healthy, so I can feed the right nutrients to my body.
Did you tackle healthy eating or exercise first or both?
I started exercising in Jan 2011, and I began the all dreaded diet cycle. In May 2011, I elevated exercise and decided to change my eating habits all together.
What do you find most frustrating about grocery shopping for healthier foods?
There are a lot of labels that say “natural”, and the truth is that isn’t always the case. Natural vs. Organic can be very confusing to the average shopper.
How did your new mindset impact your grocery purchases?
The main change I made to grocery shopping was to shop the perimeters of the store. Most fresh ingredients are located there, and I try to challenge myself to cook with less than five ingredients. I try to also stay away from foods that contain ingredients that I cannot pronounce. The biggest challenge I find is that weekly coupons often focus on processed or boxed food, so you have to buy smart and use what you have for the week. In doing so, I found that I actually spend less by not buying bulk of items that I will never eat.
What is your biggest obstacle when it comes to healthy eating?
Gracing myself. I have to remember that it is okay to indulge every now and then, and I can’t beat myself up if I make a bad choice.
What is a red flag for you on a food label?
Dextrose, Nitrates, Enriched Flour, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial flavors/colors
Do you find marketing claims on food packaging confusing?
Yes, especially on fruit juices and fruit snacks.
What new fruit or veggie have you tried since changing your habits that you and/or your kids like now?
The newest foods that I have grown to love are flax meal/seeds, quinoa, kale, and lentils. The kids are a little hard to convince, so I started with their snacks. I replaced “fruit” snacks with organic versions, chocolate covered pretzels with yogurt covered ones, and cleaner versions of juice boxes. I can get away with adding spinach to their brownies or gluten-free cookies, but I take it slow with them.
How have your healthier habits impacted your husband and kids?
This is my favorite part. I started with myself, then I chose one thing at a time for the family. I did a snack overhaul for the kids, but I told them that they had free rein on anything in the basket. I found that if I don’t buy it and make it a choice for them, they don’t eat it. It is taking time, but they are adapting. I just wish I had this philosophy when they are were babies, then I wouldn’t be retraining them. I have also noticed that my family is more aware of what they are serving if I am coming to dinner. They try to support my habits even though they may eat something else.
What is your food/fitness philosophy for you and your family?
Just do something. Start with yourself. Grace yourself. Enjoy the journey. One thing at a time.
What do you want others to know when it comes to healthy eating and exercise?
It is a lifestyle/mind shift. You have to be ready to commit, but on your own terms. You decide which day you start, what you start with, when you want to branch out, but most importantly, be excited you started. It isn’t about how skinny you can get, but “skinnying” up your life by eating better, trying foods that you wouldn’t normally try, and ridding negativity that make you indulge in bad food choices.
Where can people find you to follow your journey?