Are You Purchasing the Right Food for Your Family?


The food items we buy are closely related to our health. If we want our family to have healthy food, then we need to make the right choices when buying food. Few changes in what we buy can ensure that we eat the right food which enables us to remain healthy.

The Federal Government issues Dietary Guidelines for Americans which is a guide to healthy eating for consumers. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, released on January 31, 2011, emphasizes three major goals for Americans:

– Balance calories with physical activity to manage weight.

– Consume more of certain foods and nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood.

– Consume fewer foods with sodium (salt), saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and refined grains.

Our Spending Patterns

What food items to buy relates to the second goal. If one does not follow the dietary guidelines to the best extent feasible, then it leads to health problems due to our poor food choices. If we do not buy the right food items, then we are not eating healthy food. Unknowingly we tend to overspend on unhealthy food items and under spend on healthy food items. As per USDA,two reports of the Economic Research Service found that consumers are overspending on refined grains, fatty foods, sweets and convenience foods and under spending on vegetables, fruit,whole grains and low-fat dairy. Overspending on such items results in unhealthy diets. Unhealthy diets lead to health related problems such as obesity, diabetes, coronary risk as also increased health care costs and lost productivity. If we know what to do, then we can make the right purchases.

If we see the ‘at home’ spending patterns, we realize that these are not in sync with USDA Food plan recommendations. So where are we falling behind as far as our food buying is concerned.

What Do We Need to Buy

Things which need to be bought more are as under

– Vegetables

– Legumes

– Whole Fruits

– Low Fat Dairy

– Whole Grains

– Fish

Things which we should avoid when going to the grocery store are listed below

– Refined Grains

– Red Meat

– Fatty Foods

– Beverages

– Frozen/Refrigerated foods

– Sugar and Candies

As per the dietary guidelines, individuals should meet the following recommendations as part of a healthy eating pattern while staying within their calorie needs.

* Increase vegetable and fruit intake.

* Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.

* Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.

* Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.

* Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.

* Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.

* Replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils.

* Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.

* Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.

As per the Dietary Guidelines, one can set goals for those foods we are not eating and set limits for those we are eating more. Accordingly we can buy the foods which we need to eat more and avoid buying those which we need to limit eating.

Action Points

– Next time you go grocery shopping, keep in mind the things you need to buy.

– Do take out time to read the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. They contain a wealth of information.

– Eat those items whose goal you have to achieve and limit those which are not healthy. Your family will be healthier if you do this. russian grocery store

What I have already done

After reading the dietary guidelines I have already made these changes in my grocery list

– Increased my Vegetables. As a thumb rule, more color you buy, better it is.

– Increased the variety of legumes.

– Added variety to the fruits I am buying.

– Started looking for low-fat milk and then buying it.

– Started changing over to whole grains slowly. I have started buying brown rice.

– Reduced my poultry and red meat buying and increased my buying of fish.

Caution – Do consult your doctor if you are having any health problems. This article is serving only as an information guide based on Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

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