Week 15: Shopping Tips for Healthy Eating Farai Chideya tours a grocery store with nutritionist Rovenia Brock, aka Dr. Ro, for some aisle-by-aisle advice on how to shop for a healthful diet. Here's a couple of tips: don't shop hungry, and stay close to the produce section.
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Week 15: Shopping Tips for Healthy Eating

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Week 15: Shopping Tips for Healthy Eating

Week 15: Shopping Tips for Healthy Eating

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ED GORDON, host:

ON this week's fitness challenge, NPR's Farai Chideya tours a grocery store for some aisle-by-aisle advice on how to shop for a healthy diet.

FARAI CHIDEYA reporting:

One of the most stressful places to be when you're trying to deal with your weight is the supermarket. I'm standing here now in the Bethesda Safeway, and up at the front all they have are the candy bars, the trashy magazines, the cigarettes, all of the vices. And Dr. Ro, who is our ace nutritionist, is here with me right now in Bethesda, Maryland, to try to set me straight about healthy eating. Thanks for joining us.

Dr. ROVENIA BROCK (Nutritionist; Author, Dr. Ro's Ten Secrets to Healthy Living): Well, it's always a pleasure, Farai. And you know that one of the things that is helpful to keep you on track, even in times when it seems most difficult, is to have a plan and to have some structure. And one of the things that it's important to plan is the food that you eat.

CHIDEYA: Absolutely.

Dr. BROCK: And so here's where it all starts, right here at the point of purchase in the grocery store.

CHIDEYA: Yeah.

Dr. BROCK: So let's go on a little tour.

CHIDEYA: That sounds great.

Dr. BROCK: Now we're in the deli section here, and aren't - you notice, that the very first thing, though, that you see in the deli section are potato chips and nachos.

CHIDEYA: Exactly.

Dr. BROCK: Right, and it kind of pulls you in; it's got eye appeal. But you want to go right on past that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. BROCK: If you happen, however, to be shopping here and you've got to get something quick, get back to work, you want to go with a sliced turkey.

CHIDEYA: Right.

Dr. BROCK: You want to save the...

CHIDEYA: Not the fried chicken that I see.

Dr. BROCK: Not the fried chicken, not the ribs, not the mac and cheese.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. BROCK: No, go with the sliced turkey, go with a tossed salad, like this is a vegetable salad.

CHIDEYA: Mm-hmm.

Dr. BROCK: Okay, that's very lightly tossed.

CHIDEYA: Yeah.

Dr. BROCK: And so you see more of the vegetables, more shredded carrots...

CHIDEYA: Yeah.

Dr. BROCK: ...more shredded cabbage. That's what you want to get copious amounts of, those vegetables and the fiber here. We're going to go around to the produce section, but on the way there's some obvious offenders of your healthful plan, right? Any luncheon meat or processed meat is really going to contain lots of sodium...

CHIDEYA: Mm-hmm.

Dr. BROCK: ...and most of it is going to contain lots of fat.

CHIDEYA: But what about - there's some of them that are like the turkey breast, aren't those good or they're...?

Dr. BROCK: Breast of turkey, now breast of turkey's not so bad. There are varieties, if you will...

CHIDEYA: Right.

Dr. BROCK: ...like this smoked chipotle seasoned, which - and this is also going to be very high in sodium.

CHIDEYA: Right, right.

Dr. BROCK: Most of your processed meats are going to be high in sodium. I would prefer, if you were going to have turkey, that it's sliced off of a real breast.

CHIDEYA: Right.

Dr. BROCK: A real turkey breast.

We're in the bakery section, and the best thing I can say is, get out of here.

CHIDEYA: (Singing) Walk on by…

Dr. BROCK: Walk on by.

CHIDEYA: Now remind us again about your personal story. We've been talking to you for a little while during Farai's Fitness Challenge, but you were - you're quite a trim woman now and you weren't always.

Dr. BROCK: I was not. I was three dress sizes heavier than I am today. And I've been able - and I lost the same 30 or so pounds three different times.

CHIDEYA: Mm-hmm.

Dr. BROCK: So I'm no different from everyone else who's listening.

CHIDEYA: Yeah.

Dr. BROCK: The difference now is that I've kept off the - my three dress sizes that I lost for seven years now.

CHIDEYA: Wow.

Dr. BROCK: And I've done so by staying committed to a regimen, to a plan. There are days when I fall off, there are days when I wake up and I don't want to go for that walk, or I don't want to go down to the gym, but I have to do it. And even on those days, I remind myself that as long as I get another opportunity, I can get it right. And the same is true for everyone listening within the sound of our voices.

CHIDEYA: So now I'm smelling the coffee and we're in Fruit Loops territory.

Dr. BROCK: Yeah. Do you want to go down there, the cereal aisle?

CHIDEYA: You know...

Dr. BROCK: You know what to stay away from.

CHIDEYA: If it's cocoa-ey, fruity, or frosted...

Dr. BROCK: Sugary...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. BROCK: You know the rap.

CHIDEYA: It's a wrap.

Dr. BROCK: It's a wrap, exactly. Not a place where we belong.

CHIDEYA: I'm just noticing here that Sylvia's Restaurant, which is a famous soul food restaurant in New York City...

Dr. BROCK: Mm-hmm.

CHIDEYA: ...has its own brand of prepared black-eyed peas, collards, yams. What do you think of something like this, how would you evaluate it?

Dr. BROCK: I'm happy for Sylvia that they have their own brand. However, in a serving of greens there are over 400 milligrams of sodium, so.

CHIDEYA: Put that in a context: how many milligrams are you supposed to have a day?

Dr. BROCK: If you are not hypertensive, no more than 2,000 milligrams.

CHIDEYA: So that's basically a quarter.

Dr. BROCK: A quarter of your sodium intake for the entire day in that one serving of greens, not the whole can by the way, one serving.

CHIDEYA: Also, let's just talk about portion size. How do you - like this one box, this is supposed to be eight servings in one regular-sized box.

Dr. BROCK: Is it eight or is it four?

CHIDEYA: It's eight.

Dr. BROCK: Okay.

CHIDEYA: That's...

Dr. BROCK: All right.

CHIDEYA: You know, some people - shoot, on a bad day, you could eat the whole box by yourself.

Dr. BROCK: Yeah, they're going by the two-ounce portion, which is about a cup of this pasta.

CHIDEYA: Is that what you eat for a portion?

Dr. BROCK: Yes. Here's the thing, I think we should be less interested in eating until we are full...

CHIDEYA: Mm-hmm.

Dr. BROCK: ...and be more concerned with, you know, eating good food and understanding that it's for the purpose of nourishment. And, again, we want to be members of the lean plate club, not the clean plate club.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of grocery store intercom)

Dr. BROCK: We're headed to the produce section. This is where you want to be. This is where we want to hang out. We want to just live here...

CHIDEYA: Okay.

Dr. BROCK: ...because there's hardly anything over here that I wouldn't recommend...

CHIDEYA: That you can't eat.

Dr. BROCK: Exactly.

CHIDEYA: So let me just describe the space. We've got lettuce on the right and radishes, carrots, all of the herbs, and then sweep around through mushrooms and zucchini, eggplant, and then the fruit, the bananas, the apples, the oranges, a lot of things here that I like to eat.

Dr. BROCK: So this is good news.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. BROCK: All is not lost. I want you to have as much color as is humanly possible in your diet.

CHIDEYA: Well now that we've toured most of the grocery store, before we leave, I just want to ask you this: how do you shop?

Dr. BROCK: I shop by the month, because I can't stand shopping.

CHIDEYA: You shop by the month?

Dr. BROCK: I shop by the month, and I replenish vegetables and fruit, but staples, ground turkey, I get that, throw it in the freezer, fish, throw it in the freezer. Fresh perishables, like fresh fruits and vegetables, I'm going to go back once or twice a month.

CHIDEYA: So this requires a little planning.

Dr. BROCK: So what you want to do is you want to make a list. You never want to come to the grocery store without a shopping list.

CHIDEYA: And you never want to come hungry, right?

Dr. BROCK: You don't want to come hungry.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. BROCK: So you want to grab something before you go out, and then you want to fill up on water before you come.

CHIDEYA: Thanks, Dr. Ro.

Dr. BROCK: It's always a pleasure.

GORDON: That was NPR's Farai Chideya speaking with NEWS AND NOTES nutritionist, Rovenia Brock, author of Dr. Ro's Ten Secrets to Living Healthy. You can get more fitness and nutrition tips from Dr. Ro, plus follow Farai's progress in her six-month quest to get fit, on our Web site at npr.org.

On the next Fitness Challenge: a slam-dunk or nothing but net. Farai goes up against LA's WNBA team, the Sparks.

(Soundbite of music)

GORDON: That's our program for today. Thanks for joining us. To listen to the show, visit npr.org. And if you'd like to give us a comment, call 202-408-3330. NEWS AND NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium.

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