I’m going to lead off by asking you to pardon my mind dump. What’s coming next is a fairly random thought that struck me while grocery shopping earlier this week. Here it goes:
In an era with an unprecedented abundance of food, why do we have such a hard time shopping for groceries?
As you read that sentence, how many of you experience a tinge of angst as you either forgot to hit the grocery store this week or have yet to do so this weekend? I’m going to assume more than a few hands went up.
Many of us loath shopping for food. It’s seemingly inconvenient, it feels like busy work, and it’s hard to know what to get – especially if you’ve made a choice to purchase foods that line up with your nutritional goals. In fact, I am willing to bet that right now, at every grocery store in America, there’s someone in the condiments isle staring at the nutrition label on a jar of nut butter thinking to themselves, “Why the %*$# am I here?”.
It’s a travesty and it doesn’t have to be. Honestly told, people like myself have made the food paradigm murky. Instead of empowering you to make intuitive choices, fitness and wellness professionals have moralized the equation. We’ve wrongfully demanded that you now view food through the lenses of ‘right foods’ and ‘wrong foods’. This is dogmatic and reeks of emotional appeals. The food fallacy we professionals have created fails to help people better themselves, better others in their own circle of influence, and ultimately better their entire environment. Oh yeah, and put some damn food on their plates without having to waste time in the nut butter isle.
So what do we do?
If you find yourself paralyzed at the grocer I challenge you to seek the signal amidst the noise. Prioritize first, then purchase. One of my favorite strength coaches Dan John has a list that lines up well with the education system’s grading scale. He suggests prioritizing ‘A’ foods, then ‘B’, and so on. You must remember though, C’s still get degrees (despite what our mothers told us). In saying so, I stress to you that people who eat ‘C’ foods aren’t bad, nor are they in need of an intervention. Furthermore – and this might be more important for you to hear – a grass-fed, all-natural, homegrown organic ‘C’ food is NOT better than a conventional ‘A’ food from a health standpoint. That is simply not how things work. Remember those emotional appeals? We ain’t got no time for that.
And so, here are Dan’s grades:
A: Protein, veggies, water
B: Whole starches (potatoes, rice, grains), fats (oils, nuts, avocados, dairy fats)
C: Processed or refined proteins, starches, and fats
That’s it. It’s almost too simple isn’t it? While it may not be for everyone (and I’m certainly not assuming it will or would be), this is a great framework for the paralyzed grocery shopper. Next time you find yourself comparing the ingredient deck between two versions of rice-a-roni, recognize that you’re might be focusing too hard on the microscopic and your labors would be better served in taking a bird’s eye view of your shopping cart.
I’ll leave you at that, allowing space for self-pondering. Happy shopping everyone!
Yours in Strength,