A Guide to Grocery Shopping, Part 1

Maria Marlowe returns with tips on tackling the packaged foods aisles.

Editor’s Note:
We’re thrilled to have Maria Marlowe on board as an Entrepreneur in Residence. A holistic nutrition and wellness coach, Maria created a detox program for us earlier this winter, has advised on perfect snacks to keep at your desk and, most recently, took us to Whole Foods for an enlightening shopping experience. We loved her tips so much, that we asked her to share them here. In the first part of a two-part series, Maria offers her advice on grocery shopping—starting with the packaged foods aisles. Maria_Marlowe_Grocery_Guide From Maria:
Call me crazy, but I love grocery shopping. I find it strangely meditative and I relish walking the aisles, choosing foods that I know will nourish my body. However, I know that grocery shopping can sometimes be a frazzling experience. The sheer number of products can be overwhelming, all the buzz words on food packages seem to require a dictionary, and the thought of spending three dollars on an avocado with a 50% chance of it being brown when you get home is discouraging. Throw in playing bumper shopping carts in narrow aisles and a mile-long checkout line and it’s no surprise that grocery shopping is a chore on your to do list instead of a hotly anticipated event on your calendar! But, the truth is, food is our medicine. Every morsel of food you eat becomes your blood, your cells, your organs and your skin—so it’s super important to make sure you’re feeding you and your family the highest quality foods that will keep you looking and feeling your best! As a Health Coach, one of my most popular offerings is a two-hour grocery store tour, where I walk people up and down every aisle, explaining exactly what to choose or avoid, and why. After leading scores of them (including one such session for #TeamIvanka!) I combined all of my grocery store hacks into The Ultimate Grocery Store Guide, the most thorough compilation of everything you need to feed you and your family not just healthfully, but economically, as well! While the majority of what makes up your diet should be fresh, whole foods—like vegetables fruit, and legumes—the most confusing part of the process is often picking out packaged products, so here’s the scoop: Maria_Marlowe_Food_Package_Label

1. Skip the Nutrition Facts panel and head straight to the ingredient list

Nutrition Facts panels can be misleading. Just because something is low in fat or calories doesn’t make it healthy. The ingredient list gives a more accurate clue into the “healthiness” of a product, since there are a number of chemical additives used in packaged foods to extend the shelf life or make them taste better, but that come at the cost of our health!

2. Avoid any ingredients you wouldn’t stock in your kitchen on their own

There is a laundry list of controversial ingredients used widely in packaged foods, yet known or suspected to damage our health. This includes things like:

Artificial colors, like FD&C Yellow No. 5,
a common food dye that’s a suspected carcinogen and is linked to hyperactivity and impaired learning in children.

Partially hydrogenated oils,
which extend the shelf life of many baked goods but are directly blamed for tens of thousands of heart attacks and cardiac deaths each year.

Natural flavors
sound innocuous, but can be a sneaky way for manufacturers to add ingredients that manipulate your brain and taste buds into wanting to eat (and therefore buy) more.

3. Avoid anything with sugar as the first or second ingredient

Sugar is probably something you still stock in your kitchen, but you may want to think twice about how much of it you’re consuming. Sugar is linked with a number of health problems, from weight gain and acne to diabetes and heart disease. Ingredients are listed by weight, so the earlier it appears in the list, the more of it that’s in the product. The American Heart Association recommends maxing out your refined sugar intake at 25g per day, although some doctors insist we cut it out completely!

4. Favorite Packaged Products

In order to streamline your next trip to the grocer, download my cheat sheet (and save it to your phone) of favorite packaged products—everything is tried, tested and loaded with clean ingredients!


Harmless Harvest: Coconut Water

Tastes like you stuck a straw in a coconut. It’s minimally processed and perishable so look for it in the refrigerator section.


Hope Foods: Dips & Hummus

Organic superfood dips made with lentils and the perfect blend of spices. They are out of this world. Pair with Mary’s Gone crackers for a satisfying snack.


Mary’s Gone Crackers: Crackers

A line of crunchy, gluten-free, whole grain crackers, perfect for dipping.


Navitas Naturals: Seasoned Nuts & Seeds

Superfood-spiked nuts and seeds in interesting flavors like goji basil cashews and turmeric almonds.


Hilary’s Eat Well: Veggie Burgers

An easy weeknight meal, these are the cleanest and best tasting veggie burgers on the market! Pair with salad and baked sweet potato fries.


Tinkyada: Brown Rice Pasta

This is the only brand of gluten-free pasta I’ve found that actually tastes like pasta! Made simply with brown rice flour and water. Turn it into pasta primavera by topping it with a hearty mix of sautéed vegetables.


Hail Merry: Macaroons

Made simply with shredded coconut, almond flour, and a touch of maple syrup—the perfect sweet treat.


Vita Organic Foods: Dark Chocolate

Coconut-sweetened dark chocolate with added superfoods like goji berries and shredded coconut.


Click here to download my cheat sheet

Tips taken from: The Ultimate Grocery Store Guide by Maria Marlowe which will be released on June 29th and is currently available for pre-order.