The world is becoming more health conscious every year. Food companies are making so-called healthy food products, the fast food industry is trying to make healthier menus, and people are making smarter choices when it comes to their food.

This is a wonderful and much needed thing because obesity continually affects more and more families. Eating right with all the “healthy food” choices remains a challenge, and the media dictates what we consider healthy. Every day I see ads and articles promoting food products that really aren’t the best option. From high-fructose corn syrup to 100-calorie snack packs, people are forced to make poor health decisions. Making the weight loss journey and the quest for 6-pack abs ever more difficult.

The easiest way to avoid all this and follow a healthier path would be to eat natural foods that have not been altered by humans. This shopping list would include fresh meats, vegetables and fruits, raw nuts, and less altered dairy products. This can be a difficult thing to do, as most of the food on the shelves has been influenced by humans in one way or another.

For that reason, I’m going to give you three things to pay attention to the next time you go to the grocery store so that you can make smarter, healthier choices for you and your family:

# 1: food source

This can be a bit tricky, but many stores are getting better at providing this information. If you have access to a health food store, you won’t have as much trouble, but even Kroger stores are getting better.

Pay attention to where the food you buy comes from. This refers more to meat and animal products than to other items. Many food companies are using hormones and feeding processes for their animals that can affect the quality of the meat.

Hormones added to an animal to make it grow larger can be absorbed into our bodies once we eat the meat, upsetting our hormonal balances and bodily processes.

Look for more natural meats that have been grass-fed and hormone-free. The same goes for shellfish; Try to find more natural sources and not closed water fish. This meat will not only be healthier, but it will also be much fresher and taste better.

# 2: ingredients

When buying food, pay attention to the ingredients. Many times, a food claims to be healthy because of the number of calories, but those calories are actually unhealthy.

Calories are important, but equally important is the quality of the food. Generally, the fewer the number of ingredients, the better the food will be. If you choose a 100 calorie snack pack, you will see a long list of ingredients, whereas with more natural foods like vegetables there is only one ingredient.

If you reduce the amount of ingredients in your pantry, you will increase the quality.

# 3: sodium

Sodium is one of those things that a lot of people overlook. It plays an important role not only in weight loss, but also in heart health, joint health, and general well-being. It kills your way to success with water retention and general lowering of mood.

Many foods have added sodium to increase shelf life. Almost all canned foods will have a high amount of sodium, which is why canned foods last so long. Start watching the sodium content of your food and try to limit your intake to less than 1500 mg per day. For example, a can of “low sodium” soup has 900 mg of sodium. If that’s “low,” I’d hate to see it normal!

Lower your sodium for a couple of weeks and see how much better you feel.

Start paying more attention to details at the grocery store. Making the decision to eat healthier and be healthier is good, but it’s tough with all the tricks out there with the big food companies. Look at the little things and your food choices will start to change.