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Smart Shopping, Healthy Eating: April 18, 2014

Your mother probably said it more than once: You are what you eat. But it’s never been more important than now, when poor diets are expanding our waistlines and health conditions.

Dr. Sal Lacagnina is vice president for health and wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.

“The majority of chronic illnesses that we see in this country today are really not related to age, not related to genetics, they’re more related to lifestyle and they’re preventable. And that’s a key message that we have to get across.”

With a history of heart issues, Richard Fain keeps an eye on what goes into his body.

“It’s just all the additives and everything that are in foods today. I am concerned about it,” Fain says. “I try to keep myself relatively healthy. I’m 67 so I try to watch what I eat.”

A good start is to go natural - as close as possible.

“What I tell people it’s really simple. If you don’t eat foods that are in a box or a bag, if you eat whole foods that are grown in the earth, that are unprocessed, you’ll be much better off,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

The demand for convenience is a drawback for many a dieter. But it is possible to shop for shortcuts and still eat healthy. A quick suggestion when it comes to label reading is to look at the number of ingredients. The fewer the better.

“Oftentimes when you grab a box of a food product the label is so long and you can’t read half of the words. Those are foods you should put back on the shelf. The more foods are processed and the more they’ve been changed from the natural way that they were grown, the more unhealthy they become,” Dr. Lacagnina says.

Cutting down on fast food trips, hiding the salt-shaker and avoiding sugary drinks can be eye-opening, and make a difference in your well-being.

“People don’t have any concept really in most cases of what they’re eating,” says Fain.

With small changes, it is possible to shop smart and eat healthy