I’m a Whole Foods fan. I like having the option to buy organic and do so for the fruits and vegetables that absorb the most pesticides if grown conventionally (see ewg.org dirty dozen for the list). I like knowing any meat or poultry I buy is free of antibiotics and growth hormones. I like being able to buy whatever quantity of whole grain or legumes I want as this encourages me to try new grains in small amounts to see if I like them. I also like their many educational programs, recipes and literature found throughout the store.
But there are hazards to be avoided. You only need to venture over to the bakery, candy carousel and self-serve section to see that you need to shop mindfully, not hungrily. The bakery and candy carousel are out of the realm of healthy foods, and it’s easy to recognize these are not everyday foods.
But treading into the self-serve section with a stressful mind or a hungry belly is another story. The self-serve section is a panoply of colors, aromas and taste sensations too numerous to list that can lead the distracted mind to totally overload on food. It is akin to a sober alcoholic browsing a liquor store when she has an urge to drink.
Couple that with the super large green tubs or brown biodegradable containers and you have a recipe for serious overeating. I recommend that you take your container home or back to your office and put the contents on a luncheon plate so you can see how much you are actually eating.
This is not to say one should never partake of the self-serve cabaret. What I am suggesting is that if you do visit this part of the store, choose mindfully. Keep in mind that the foods you find in the self-serve section are not organic, so you might want to refer to the dirty dozen when making your vegetable choices.
Key Tips for Navigating Self-Serve Stations
Follow these tips and you won’t break the bank or burst your waistline:
- List the foods you want to put in your take-out box before you get to the store
- Put greens in the bottom, add a vegetable or two, and a small portion of meat or tofu
- Add a small scoop of a whole grain (quinoa, couscous, bulghur) to the box
- Add a scoop of nuts
- Skip the dressings - there’s already enough on the veggies and grains
Weight gain is a serious problem that can be remedied when you become aware of how much you are actually eating. It’s easy to be lulled into thinking that when you shop in a “healthy store” that anything you choose is good for you. But think about how many choices you would have, and how much you would eat, if you prepared your food at home. With the growing trend of grocery stores offering walk up self-serve prepared foods, you need to be mindful of not only which foods, but how much of those foods, you put into your containers.
Plate Your Food
So when you buy your food this way, put it on a plate. It’s the easiest way to see what you are really eating.