Picking the right groceries could save your life

Modern grocery stores are designed to appeal to your senses — and make you hungry. Everything is strategically placed, from the colorful flowers and plants to the bakery to the snack foods. Knowing the right foods to eat and not being swayed by appealing displays can literally save your life, especially if you have a chronic condition, like heart disease or diabetes. You can’t afford to simply wander the aisles without a plan.

That’s one reason Parrish Medical Center cardiac rehabilitation nurse Linda Bronson started free monthly grocery store tours about seven years ago.

“People usually find it easier to just grab a box or can of something [i.e., processed foods],” she says. “That’s simpler but definitely not healthier.”

Cardiac rehab patient John Miller has a family history of heart disease going all the way back to his clan in Ireland. In fact, most of the men in his family had their first heart attack in their late 30s or early 40s. “I was 42 when I had my first one,” John says.

When he started cardiac rehab with PMC in early 2013, he was about four months past his second and third (back-to-back) heart attacks. “The entire program was excellent, but the grocery store tour really made a difference for me,” he says. “I took the lessons learned to heart and started reading all the food labels when I shopped. I also eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and low-fat foods. Since starting on my ‘grocery store diet,’ I’ve lost 50 pounds, which I know is helping not only my heart, but my overall health.”

Now 61, John also works out regularly at Parrish Health & Fitness Center in Titusville.

“If you have heart disease, you must keep track of what you eat. Too much salt in the diet raises the chance of high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure,” said PMC clinical dietitian Jennifer Raucci, RD, LD/N.

The good news is the tours are now open to anyone in the community who wants to learn how to choose healthy foods. The tours, led by PMC healthcare professionals, map out the good — and the not-so-good — foods for you. Participants learn how to read food labels and what to look for when choosing healthy foods.


Take the Grocery Store Tour!

Take a free grocery store tour the first Monday each month at 10 a.m. at the Titusville Garden Street Publix or the Port St. John Publix on U.S. Hwy 1. Call (321) 268-6200 to RSVP for either tour.

You can also join the Parrish HealthBridge for free at ParrishMed.com/bridge. This online healthcare community will give you access to up-to-date health information, along with healthy recipes for you and your family. Get the health information you want the way you want it — on your smartphone, computer, tablet or in the mail.