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What's in your shopping cart?

By Dave Schreck

We all do it. You're pushing your cart around the shopping aisles of the grocery store checking to see what others have placed in theirs. Yes, I do the same, plus I attempt to make a correlation between the type of foods in the cart and the health of the person pushing the cart. Could it be that carts full of soda, cereals, chips, pasta, breads, cake mixes, fruit juices, bags of rice, beans and potatoes are followed by individuals who are overweight, placing themselves and their families at risk for all chronic diseases? Could this demonstrate that what we eat affects our health? It also makes me realize that you can prepare simple balanced meals and look and feel healthier within 30 days. We often hear "it's too complicated," or "it's too expensive." Here are a few tips that make the Zone simple and economical.

First, check the Nutrition Facts. Look at the carbohydrate and subtract the fiber to determine the insulin-stimulating amount of carbohydrate. You're looking for no more than 30-35g of carbs. More than 35? Don't buy it! Need more information on carbohydrates? Go to, click on Resources, then Understanding Anti-Inflammatory Diets." Or click here:

Ideally, you're looking for 10g of fat, 20g of protein and 30g of carbohydrate for a Zone breakfast, lunch or dinner for a typical woman. Snacks are 3g of fat, 7g of protein and 9g of carb. Most likely you won't find these figures, but it's OK because you don't need to be exact and precise. The Zone is a range. Here's an easier way to look at a label and determine if the meal is Zone favorable. The protein should be no less than one-half the carbohydrates. Example: 30g of carb, then at least 15g of protein, and fat around 9g. How can you tell if your meal was in the Zone, i.e., stable blood sugars and insulin? Look at the time. You should have good mental focus, physical energy and no hunger for 4-5 hours.

During the winter months, like here in New England, soups are comforting. Here are some examples that are within the Zone range. No adjustments necessary. Note the serving size, usually one cup per serving with two serving per container, portion accordingly.

Light Roasted Chicken & Veg.
Light Zesty Santé Fe Chicken
Reduced Sodium Chicken Noodle*
High Fiber Chicken Tuscany*
Light Beef Pot Roast*
Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
Hearty Beef Noodle
Roasted Chicken w/ Country Vegetables
Sirloin Burger w/ Country Vegetables


The following Progresso soups need more protein. Consider chicken sausages from Al Fresco, Aidells, Hillshire Farms Turkey Kielbasa or Hormel White & Dark Meat. Remember if you have about 20g of carbohydrate, you'll need at least 10g of protein and 9g of fat.

  • Light New England Clam Chowder (remove a few potatoes, add in a 3oz. tin of clams or smoked oysters)
  • Reduced Sodium Chicken Gumbo + ½ sausage
  • Light Italian Style Meatball + ½ chicken sausage

    Adding in a few handfuls of spinach, chopped tomato and spices will add variety and nutrition to any soup without altering the balance of the meal.

    Too much sodium in the soups? Research has demonstrated a connection between high levels of insulin and sodium retention and the hormone aldosterone. By controlling the levels of insulin with the Zone Diet, you can help manage the levels of sodium within your body. The Zone Diet, which is low in sodium and controls insulin, can accommodate the occasional high-sodium meal; however, it's always a good policy not to use excessive amounts of sodium over long periods of time.

    How about a few frozen meals? Suggestions from Lean Cuisine:

    • Rosemary Chicken
    • Salmon with Basil
    • Roasted Turkey and Vegetables
    • Roasted Garlic Chicken

    These suggestions are offered as quick and easy meals to keep you in the Zone. No more excuses! We encourage you to prepare fresh, organic, locally grown foods whenever possible. You'll find hundreds of recipes at