Supermarket Sweep

Do you remember that show? I used to love watching it–people running around like crazy with their big shopping carts looking for hidden clues, as I would bite my nails screaming: “Don’t grind the coffee! It takes too much time!”

Do you sometimes feel like when you’re doing your own supermarket shopping, you feel like chaotic, all over the place, and unfocused. Just take a step back and look at the packed shelves, the thousands of products beckoning to be bought. I’m well versed in nutrition, yet even I have some major difficulties when making my purchases.

I’ve been brushing up on my supermarket smarts by reading the book Read it Before You Eat It by dietitian Bonnie-Taub-Dix. I’m halfway through but I love it–easy to understand, and easy to read. In fact, this book should be required reading for school.

Here are 5 amazing tidbits I’ve learned from the book so far:

1. In regards to protein, an serving size is 3 ounces. However, meat is labeled in grams, not ounces. Use this conversion: 7 grams= 1 ounce. So, if you purchase a package of meat that’s 21 grams, you have 3 ounces of that protein.

2. Brown sugar is not healthy. Brown sugar is the same as white sugar, but colored with molasses (which is the dark brown sticky substance left over from sugar processing. Light brown sugar means it has less molasses, dark brown has more. So, to reiterate: Brown sugar= sugar.

3. Cane juice sounds natural and healthy, right? Not so. Cane juice is the same as sugar. Don’t let these terms fool you: cane juice crystals, evaporated cane juice, crystallized cane juice. It’s all sugar.

4. The word “natural” on a package is an unregulated term, meaning–anyone can use it, and it doesn’t really have to mean anything.  The word is supposed to suggest that the product has no additional additives or artificial ingredients, but take a look at a nutrition label and you’ll find otherwise. So don’t let the word “natural” fool you into thinking you’ve automatically got a healthy item in your hands.

5. Wheat bread isn’t always what it seems. Quite often the dark color is the result of coloring from caramel or molasses (crazy, right?) When purchasing bread, look for “Whole Grains” or “100% whole wheat” as the first ingredient.

I highly recommend picking up this book and learning how to decipher those complicated nutrition labels, and to look beyond food manufacturer’s buzz words, like Natural, Light, and Fat Free. You owe it to yourself and your family to be a savvy supermarket shopper!

What confuses you in the supermarket? What are your smart supermarket shopping tactics?

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5 Responses to Supermarket Sweep

  1. Lauren Slayton January 26, 2011 at 6:20 am #

    The grams tip is such an important one. “Gram” labeling confuses people a ton. When in doubt though portion cues such as a deck of cards etc always help.

  2. judy goldfarb January 29, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    very informative. sounds like a good book to have.

  3. Yael March 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    I was intrigued by the brown sugar thing so I checked on Wikipedia ( While most of the stuff that’s sold as brown sugar is just white sugar with added molasses, “natural brown sugar,” or “raw sugar” (sometimes sold as demerara, turbinado, or muscovado) actually is less refined than white sugar. But yes, it’s all still sugar.

    • Amanda March 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

      Exactly…it’s all processed in your body the same way. Good for you for doing research on it! When I use sweetener (which is rare, as I’m a major sugar addict), I use stevia or xylitol. Hope you’re doing well!!


  1. Tweets that mention Supermarket Sweep | Cake And Carrots -- - January 25, 2011

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paige Lysaght, CHC, Amanda Goldfarb. Amanda Goldfarb said: Brown sugar is white sugar w/ molasses. Cane juice sounds healthy, but it's just sugar. Are u supermarket savvy? [...]

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