by Lisa Hugh MSHS RD LDN CLT
Why You Should Shop For Single Ingredient Groceries -- No Matter What Diet You Are On
So if you are following any type of elimination diet (food allergies, food sensitivities, LEAP / MRT, LOW FODMAP) or any therapeutic diet (low sodium, no added sugar, DASH diet, renal diet) or other diet (vegan, paleo, keto, low carb, plant based, gluten free, dairy free), you have probably figured out that reading food labels matter. What is in your food matters-- the nutrients (carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins & minerals) matter and so do the ingredients. Keep reading to find out why purchasing Single Ingredient Groceries (foods with just one ingredient) can help you stay on track with your diet.
1. Safety First.
One of the main lessons I teach my patients is to not restrict their diet when they don't have to. Restricting when not necessary may lead to a really boring diet, poor nutritional intake, and feeling deprived and unhappy. However, in the case of food allergies, food sensitivities, food intolerances, and adverse food reactions, certain dietary restrictions are a safety consideration. Food allergies can be life-or-death situations and other reactions can be extremely uncomfortable or cause long term health problems.
Let's talk about gluten free diets for a minute. If you have celiac disease, eating a food that contains gluten might cause immediate discomfort AND could cause long term damage to your digestive tract. Maybe even more alarming is knowing that wheat and gluten might be "hidden" in "safe" looking foods. (Here's an article on hidden sources of gluten.
Reading labels is ALWAYS important, but choosing groceries that contain only a single ingredient is a strategy that can help reduce the risk of unintended ingestion. For example, buying a fresh potato is less risk than buying a canned potato soup, frozen french fries, or a boxed mashed potato mix -- all of which contain more ingredients and MIGHT contain gluten.
2. It's Good To Have Options.
If you're used to buying pre-made foods (canned soups, frozen foods, mixes), the thought of cooking from scratch might not seem too appealing. However, let's look at the bright side. There are definitely convenience foods that only contain one ingredient. (more on this coming soon, but here's an example of a potato flake that contains just potato - no other ingredients, no fillers, no gluten, no hidden dairy. Of course, you'll have to season it, but it comes with peace of mind.
In addition to peace of mind, you also have flexibility when buying single ingredient groceries. A fresh potato can be made into lots of things -- fried potatoes, baked potatoes, potato soup, mashed potatoes, potato soup, oven roasted potatoes, and lots more. A boxed of mashed potato mix can't turn in to a baked potato. The same goes for lots of single ingredient foods. Plain rice can be made into lots of dishes and seasoned just about any way you imagine.
3. You Might Save Some Money, Too.
I hear it all the time -- eating healthy is so expensive. Well, it can be. But it doesn't have to be. Prepackaged "specialty" foods can almost always cost more than "regular" foods. But more importantly, bulk foods and single ingredient groceries usually cost waaaay less than processed foods. Making a habit of buying these foods and having your pantry stocked with single ingredient pantry basics can definitely be a wise financial decision.
Not sure where to buy your single ingredient groceries?
See my post 3 WAYS TO MAKE GROCERY SHOPPING BETTER.
What are your favorite single ingredient groceries?
Let me know in the comments.
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Written by Lisa Hugh MSHS RD LDN CLT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Certified Leap Therapist (food sensitivity expert).
Do you follow a special diet for food sensitivities, food allergies, digestive disorders or other reasons?
Finding foods you can eat is tough, so I've put together a lot of resources to make life easier.
The foods featured here are Single Ingredient Groceries.
They contain ONE food ingredient. (Some contain salt which is usually considered "non reactive".)