One of the most frustrating things about going to the grocery store or market these days is the overwhelming glut of processed, unhealthy options. Comparatively, the healthful alternatives located in any given aisle are miniscule at best.
Of course, if you’re fortunate enough to live near a Whole Foods Market, a Trader Joes, or any similar market, you can always take advantage of their healthful selections and picky buying and distributing rules. However, health food stores can be expensive and sometimes inconveniently located. So what do you do when your market options are limited?
First and foremost, you should go into the market with a plan of action. Planning your meals ahead may seem time consuming, maybe even impossible, but doing so will save you time and money in the long run. My family, life so many others, is eternally busy. Every night we have something going on, perhaps many things, and the opportunities to sit down and enjoy one another’s company around the dinner table are rare. Thus when planning meals I always start with what meals we will actually be eating together. On other nights, I will plan something for the slow cooker, or that can be prepared in advance and warmed.
For lunches, it’s wise to have something on hand that can be pulled together easily. Annie’s brand makes great organic alternatives for school lunches, and sandwiches made with whole wheat sandwich thins are more healthful and have fewer calories than those made with bread.
For the easily-packed work lunch, cut some vegetables ahead of time (carrots or baby carrots, broccoli, celery, etc) and pack with no-sugar-added yogurt, whole wheat crackers and a slice or two of cheese. These are all items you can have readily available in the fridge, allowing that last-minute-lunch to be pulled together on the go.
Breakfast is an incredibly important meal, and of course, one that we often overlook. If you suffer from anxiety, you should never, ever skip breakfast. Unstable blood sugar – much like dehydration – can cause feelings of panic and anxiety.
Even if you just have time to grab a piece of fruit and a Luna or Clif bar on your way out the door, you should make sure you’ve eaten something nutritionally balanced. If you have a little more time in the morning, whole grain cereals with almond or soy milk make an excellent start to the day. If you prefer hot cereals, barley flakes, steel cut oats, or rye flakes should stick to your ribs and give you energy throughout the morning.
Once you have your meals planned and your list made, you can go into any market confidently. But wait! There’s another hurdle to overcome…the almighty and endlessly frustrating ingredient list. Anyone can tout their product as “healthy,” “whole” or “organic,” but even products marketed this way can be chock full of preservatives and toxins. Always check the labels of the products you buy! This is the only way you can ensure that you are aware of what you are putting into your body.
Remember, your meals should be based around a whole grain and should always include some sort of vegetable and protein. Learning a new way of cooking and eating can be daunting at first, but the rewards are well worth it. Not only will your anxiety ease and fade, but you will feel miles better.
Good luck with your market endeavors!
-The Calm Cook