Shopping for a car is about as confusing as shopping for food.

shopping cart

I love to shop…but not for cars. My car of twelve years died in downtown Pittsburgh, so I had no choice but to shop for a car. After a lengthy search, I finally purchased a used car that I could afford. The process was difficult and left me asking, “Wouldn’t it be great if buying a car were easy?”

Ironically, I bought a box of Post Shredded Wheat cereal and the back side of the box asks, “Wouldn’t it be great if it were easy to understand what is in your food?”  And to this I give a rounding answer of  “Yes!” 

Whether buying a car or buying food, it is easy to be confused and one may feel they are walking through a maze of conflicting information. What can be believed? Whom can be trusted? What is best for us?

Focusing on food, Dr. Oz, a contributor to Time’s December 2012 publication “What to Eat Now, Your Guide to Good, Healthy Food” writes, “The problem isn’t that people don’t want to eat well and be well . . . the problem is that a lot of folks just don’t know what a healthy diet looks like – and why should they, since the rules keep changing?” He continues, “The fact is, that simple rules that divide things into categories of ‘good food’ and ‘bad food’ tell you only a small part of the story.”

I recommend the Time booklet; however, even within its covers, I found contradictory statements between authors and even within singular articles, so be ready to think critically (a process I highly recommend).

My health science students were faced with the feeling of being in a maze during a recent field trip to a supermarket. Teams of two were tasked to find the most “nutritionally sound” products from a list of common items, such as cereal, yogurt, and pasta. The average time to complete the task was 1 hour and 45 minutes…for only eighteen items!

This was the first time many of the students read a nutrition label. I was available to answer questions, but many had no idea where to start with the process.

So, how does one shuffle through changing and confusing information?  May I suggest:

learn-a-bit-of-science Learn about vitamins, minerals, and how the body works.  The more you know, the more confidence you will have. You will know how to get the best bang for your buck to meet nutritional needs. For instance, frozen foods provide incredible nutritional benefits for a reasonable price.

follow-gutValid and reliable studies today may be turned upside down tomorrow. Trust your instincts. Study trends carefully and learn who can be trusted – some people only want your money.

stick-to-basicsCooking is not my strength but if I can learn this skill, anyone can learn. Cooking with the basics is a healthy and economical choice. One doesn’t need to be a gourmet chef. Start with soup – it is difficult to mess up, is nutritionally dense and can be cooked in bulk. Yay, soup! 

inthistogetherRather than judging others about what they eat and what they buy, show understanding. Not everyone has equal opportunity and means. Share your knowledge kindly. No one likes to feel stupid. Be sensitive and persuade by example.

Here’s to making sound decisions with what we know, with what we have, and with what we need, whether shopping for food or for a car.

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As promised, Maryclare’s cauliflower recipe will be posted tomorrow. I’ve made it three times and I’m always surprised about the veggie-gobbling. Stay tuned!

Love Maryclare’s writing? Check out My Habits Become Their Habits.