All About Rachel
Rachel is an all-Singaporean, all-heart, girl-next-door type of sweetheart, who is every girl's dream best friend, and every guy's dream girl. She loves her braised beancurds, and cooks up one mean Korean ramyeon, but at the same time, she's also a lover of french cheeses, and French-Bali escapades. Rachel is 39 (but passes off easily as someone in her early 30s), works at a really cool public agency (yes, it exists!) and is an avid reader and swimmer. She is married to Eric who is French, and together, they live with Rachel's father, Uncle Yeong, who is a widower living with cancer, and the family is renovating their apartment now. As you can see, Rachel leads a pretty high octane life, and she’s constantly running around for her work and family. It's actually already tiring for me to write all these out, imagine having to live it!
A Caregiver’s Love for Life!
It is with this hectic background, and the careful yet heavy responsibilities that Rachel has a caregiver and caregiving decision maker in her family, that we approached Rachel and another CaregiverAsia fangirl, Ellen (to be covered next week!), to be part of our supermarket spree with a CaregiverAsia nutritionist, Charlotte de Drouas. Rachel touched all of us at CaregiverAsia, when she shared that her father was just discharged from the hospital on the same day that we held our spree. This is typically Rachel, and arguably, the same with most Caregivers; they are constantly multi-tasking, and fitting all the pieces of the puzzle called life together, to create a beautiful larger picture for everyone. Kudos to her and family caregivers all over the world for that!
Rachel’s Food Concerns
Rachel’s main nutritional concerns for her and the men in her family are:
- Ensuring that her father, who is undergoing chemotherapy, continues to have a good appetite, and to keep up with his intake of more nutritious food
- Maintaining a good balance between healthy eating and the salty, sweet foods that her French husband loves
- Improving her general wellness through a nutritious diet
The Nutritionist's Grocery Challenge
Charlotte's challenge to Rachel, was to shop for her family, a full breakfast meal and an afternoon snack for under SGD50. Breakfasts are usually one of the most difficult meals to prepare, as most families are busy getting ready to start the work and school day on time! Instead of opting for healthier whole food options which might take longer to prepare, many families would sneak in a convenient processed food option or two! Snack times are often tricky as well, and if the CaregiverAsia pantry is anything to go by, they will often feature sugary drinks and artificially flavoured cheese snacks! Are there better options out there? Let’s see how Rachel fared!
Good Shopping Habits!
The first part of the CaregiverAsia supermarket spree was to have Rachel pick up, in 15 minutes, breakfast and snack items that she would typically buy for her family.
Start with a Shopping List
Rachel got off to a good start, by jotting down a shopping list before she started moving down the supermarket aisles. According to Charlotte, having a prepared shopping list before you start keeps you focused and on track. Many distracted shoppers end up busting their budgets with unnecessary purchases without a list to anchor their supermarketing goals.
At the end of 15 minutes, Rachel returned with her basket of food. Some highlights in the basket were:
- A loaf of whole grain bread
- A carton of chilled Milk
- A GIANT jar of chocolate hazelnut spread
- A jar of cherry jam
- An avocado
- 2 kinds of cheeses, one of them apportioned into single serve quarters
- A 6 pack of Instant Korean ramyeon noodles
- A packet of giant corn chips
- A packet of “on-the-go” single serve biscuits
Go For Single-Portion Packaging
Charlotte was impressed with Rachel’s personal philosophy of adhering to a low sodium and low sugar diet for herself, and understood that she was trying to introduce a more healthy eating lifestyle to her dessert-fanboy, sweet bon-bon lover of a husband. Her advice to Rachel, was to introduce changes in little steps, and not to be over purist in her approach to nutrition. Food, as Charlotte mused, is to nourish both the body and the soul, and we should all be allowed to eat what we want, so long as it is mindful eating, and in moderated proportions. In that aspect, Rachel did really well, as she had picked 2 items which were apportioned into single serve packages (the cheese and the biscuits). According to our favorite nutritionist (Charlotte), single serve packages allow us to enjoy what we love, without over indulging.
Are you interested in a supermarket tour with Charlotte? You can book Charlotte on CaregiverAsia now! We have many other personal chefs and nutritionists listed with us as well. Come on over and take a look!
Take Small Steps to Introduce Lifestyle Changes!
A surprising purchase that Rachel picked up was the GIANT jar of chocolate hazelnut spread and jam. Rachel shared that her husband loves chocolate spread, and would finish by himself, a full bottle in a week. She explained, that as a Frenchman, her husband loves his jams, and has the theory that jam is full of fruits, hence it must be very good and healthy. Having a French heritage, Charlotte knew intimately what Rachel meant about the French and their spreads. True to her philosophy of taking little steps to lifestyle changes, Charlotte let the sugary chocolate hazelnut spread pass, but shared on jam alternatives. Jam, in itself, is high in sugar, there is no escaping that fact. This is due to the fruits used (fruits are high in sugar), and the fact that the traditional ways of manufacturing jams require lots of sugar to be added. There are however, some manufacturers who have worked hard to come out with jams that do not have added sugar. These brands are available in most Singapore supermarkets, so be sure to read the nutrition labels.
As a healthy alternative, Charlotte suggested peanut butter. A fun fact about peanut butter is that it does not actually have butter in it, it’s called peanut butter as it has a butter-like consistency when you spread it on bread. You can actually make your own homemade peanut butter, by putting in peanuts and some salt (if you wish) into a blender and blending it all up. The oils in the nuts will give it its butter-like texture. You can also replace peanuts with walnuts, cashew nuts and almonds to make walnut butter, cashew butter and almond butter. Now that sounds delicious! Yummy!
Read the Nutrition Label
Rachel’s family take a lot of milk, and Charlotte spent some time explaining the common mistakes people make in choosing their milk. It is absolutely essential when buying processed and packaged food to look at their nutritional labels. In particular the top three ingredients listed. Picking up 2 different cartons of milk, Rachel realised that one stated, “100% Australian Milk” (just one ingredient) and the other, a long list of ingredients which included milk solids, permitted stabilisers and emulsifiers, nicotinamide as well as permitted flavouring (the list goes on). Charlotte stressed the importance of mindful eating, and a very important step to this is knowing what you are eating through the food labels.
Rachel asked if soy milk was a good alternative to diary milk. Charlotte’s insider tip is that soy milk is an excellent alternative, especially for lactose intolerant Asians. The chilled ones from the supermarket chiller are usually pure soy milk. If you look at food labels, you will be surprised that European and American soy milk are not usually pure soy milk, as they have additives added! As a rule of thumb, if a “milk product” is labelled as “beverage”, it’s not pure milk. On the issue of organic soy milk, Charlotte quipped that, “There are no benefits, and there is definitely no benefit to your wallets”.
At the end of the supermarket tour with Charlotte, Rachel found herself replacing some items in her basket for healthier choices. Charlotte’s objectives are to educate and share on practical ways to introduce long term changes to our eating habits through informed label reading and small easy tweaks. So what were Rachel’s final supermarket purchase?
- A loaf of whole grain bread (just remember to read the fine print nutrition label, as some manufacturers do not use 100% whole meal flour!)
- A carton of chilled Milk (make sure it’s 100% Milk!)
- A GIANT jar of chocolate hazelnut spread (some treats are always needed)
- A jar of cherry jam A jar of cherry jam (original jam replaced for a brand without added sugar in the manufacturing process)
- An avocado 2 boxes of red seedless grapes (replaced the avocado, as the grapes were on sale!)
- 2 kinds of cheeses, one of them apportioned into single serve quarters (great choice as a snack, especially the single serve ones)
- A 6 pack of Instant Korean ramyeon noodles (small changes at a time!)
- A packet of giant corn chips Peanut Butter Spread (made of just peanuts and salt. Next time Rachel will be making her own peanut butter!)
- A packet of “on-the-go” single serve biscuits (again, great choice due to the single serve portions)
Rachel’s purchases amounted to SGD68.15 and the most expensive item on the list was the French Comte cheese which amounted to SGD17.66. Without that item, Rachel would have shopped very successfully, tastily and nutritiously for her family’s breakfast and afternoon snack for under SGD50.00! Well done Rachel! We wish you and your family the very best of health, and happy snacking!
As for you, dear gentle readers, we hope that you have enjoyed this first instalment of our Supermarket Food Week Spree. In the second instalment, Ellen, our mother of three, goes through the same challenge with Charlotte! How would she fare, and what advice does Charlotte have for her children who eats up to 3 bananas each a day?
Read the second instalment here!
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