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S/O Are people who use "health food store" products healthier?


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So, with the twinkie diet thread, I thought I'd post my thoughts/questions on the opposite, supposedly healthy lifestyle.

 

I've noticed that many of the employees and customers of "health food stores" don't appear healthy in any way shape or form. I've seen greasy, stringy hair, browning teeth, unhealthy looking skin, gauntness, etc. I've noticed that several employees that have assisted me look like this plus have horrid breath and body odor. NOT a good selling point!

 

So, do the foods and products sold by health food stores really promote health or is my view of what health looks and smells like skewed?

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Just because someone works at a health food store does not mean they live a healthy lifestyle. The customers could be shopping there in an effort to begin a healthy lifestyle, could be shopping for a special meal, or may prefer organic food even if they aren't living healthfully. Just a thought. ;)

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One measure of "health" might be how often a person gets sick. A study comparing the number of viral illnesses per year among people who eat primarily organic whole foods vs. those who eat lots of processed, etc., would be interesting.

 

(Some of the things you mention seem more like hygiene issues than health ones.)

 

:)

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I agree with Secular Mom - just because someone is working in a HFS or shopping in one does not mean their overall lifestyle is consistent with what one would expect of a HFS employee/customer. We shop almost exclusively at a HFS (that combined with Trader Joe's). I can buy what I need (gluten free, dairy free, free of all artificial ingredients, and organic) cheaper at our local HFS than I can at the grocery store, and not have to wade through the hundreds of products that we cannot eat. I also consider my family healthy. We are sick once, maybe twice a year on average. When the boys are sick, they are usually knocked down for about 24 hours and then quickly rebound; dh and I take a little bit longer (I venture that we have had more time in our lives to mess around with our health ;) ).

 

But, before we had dietary restrictions, I would still shop occasionally at our local HFS. It has food, but also body products and supplements. Sometimes I needed a bottle of B complex or wanted some nice, natural soap. But, we were, by and large, still eating a SAD. I do not know if the employees of our HFS make enough money to be able to buy their groceries there for their families - I have also seen food brought in for lunch/dinner breaks that definitely would not qualify as HFS fare. So, just because one chooses to work at a HFS, or even shops there, does not necessarily mean better health - it is expensive to buy the majority of one's food at a HFS (even though our HFS is on the low-end in terms of pricing, it is still costly for us and we have to budget accordingly). Most people I see shopping there are buying a few things here and there - some supplements, one or two "speciality" items, and then going on their way.

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I can only relate my own experience. Since I began striving for a healthier diet several years ago, I have noticed a vast improvement in my general health and well being. I used to get sick several times during the year, but now I get maybe one sinus infection a year during really bad seasonal allergies. My energy level and enthusiasm for life have also increased since I've been eating better.

 

A few years ago, I went to a regular grocery store on a Saturday, when the store was packed. For some reason, I looked down across all the checkout aisles at all the stuff people had piled on the belts. I was shocked at how almost everything was in cardboard boxes or plastic containers. I thought to myself, "Where is the actual food?" Almost no one had fresh produce or even cuts of meat. It was all processed foods. From that day forward, I've tried not to buy processed foods and eat whole, natural foods. I don't always make it, and I still have a long way to go to what I would consider an ideal way of eating, but the improvements I've made have really made a difference in my health. And my kids are eating a much healthier diet than I did as a kid.

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This was a HUGE standout for me when I started eating healthy! I notice it every. single. time.

 

When I shopped at Wal-Mart, a majority of the people were morbidly obese, on oxygen tanks, etc. and there was a small army of motorized carts that people were driving b/c they were too unhealthy to walk, and they weren't elderly. Every other person I saw just looked horribly unhealthy, including myself! Even a majority of the children I saw were unhealthy looking, waddling down aisles, unable to run b/c of the weight they are carrying. And the people would pass by me with carts FULL of pizza, fruit snacks, potato chips, soda, candy, and every other processed food known to man! It frustrated me to no end b/c I was trying so hard to eat healthy and avoid that junk. It was ESPECIALLY infuriating when a skinny person walked by with all that junk in their basket, LOL!!

 

I now shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes and the difference is like night and day. I do see a few "less than in optimal health" people (and I should include that my fat hiny is one of them!) but they are obviously like me and working toward the healthy lifestyle goal. Being a very social person, I have had quite a few conversations with strangers I've met there! I have yet to see someone in a motorized cart at Whole Foods and most of the people are in very good shape and look very healthy. Nice shiny, supple skin, nice hair, healthy weight, fit, the older people are in good shape, etc.

 

I know it's not PC, or nice to notice/mention these things, but I couldn't help it! It was so, in-your-face-you-would-have-to-be-blind-not-to-notice, obvious! I haven't step foot inside a Wal-mart in about 3 years, LOL. I even went to visit my mom in Georgia and showed her the same thing b/c she also has weight issues.... it was pretty obvious there as well, and my mom started eating healthy and has lost lots of weight! I have lost some.... I still need to get it through my head that Organic chocolate cake is STILL chocolate cake! Plus, I have metabolic syndrome working against me. But, I do get a physical every year and my Dr. said I'm in pretty good health for being obese, so if I would just lose the weight I would be golden, LOL.

 

Anyways, I think that if you really kept an eye open for it when out and about, you would notice it more often. And I don't notice it/point it out to be mean. I just believe that this country needs a HUGE attitude adjustment when it comes to healthy lifestyles and we need to start putting 2 and 2 together :)

 

I guarantee you the difference is in socioeconomic level rather than what kind of food they eat. You can buy produce, lean meats, organics, etc. at Walmart, too, if you can afford it.

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Hmmm, I just realized that the Wal-Marts in my area do not have nice produce, but really neither does the HFS. I mostly shop at Winn Dixie for produce. By 'nice' I mean ripe or nearly ripe but not bruised up or actually decomposing. Everything at Wal-Mart is not in horrible shape, but the stuff that looks decent I know will look great at Winn Dixie. I'm sure there is a huge price difference there.

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I will say that while I believe good nutrition is very important (and shows itself as people age) it seems many (most, all?) Health Food stores make a good deal of money selling supplements and remedies of very dubious value.

 

Bill

:iagree: There are so many 'specialty' items in HFSs and they definitely sell lots of junk foods too (they are just more expensive junk foods than those that Wal-Mart carries). If you've read that some supplement can cure your disease they probably carry it in the HFS, even if it makes your skin turn blue :lol:

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I will say that while I believe good nutrition is very important (and shows itself as people age) it seems many (most, all?) Health Food stores make a good deal of money selling supplements and remedies of very dubious value.

 

Bill

 

I can only speak from my own personal experience, but the oil of oregano, probiotics and other herb formulations from my local HFS were the ONLY thing that helped a chronic, 20-year-long medical problem. The assumption that "most, all?" HFSs are crooks is incorrect.

 

Now, when you get to the outlier supplements (phenphen, for example) then you get in grayer water. But, an upstanding HFS will not push these types of supplements.

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:iagree: There are so many 'specialty' items in HFSs and they definitely sell lots of junk foods too (they are just more expensive junk foods than those that Wal-Mart carries). If you've read that some supplement can cure your disease they probably carry it in the HFS, even if it makes your skin turn blue :lol:

 

:iagree:

 

There is a lot of "junk food" in most HFSs.

 

Bill

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I don't know.

 

I've had many friends over the years who were avid health nuts and they weren't any healthier than those in my house most of the time. They got sick just as often. Their fertility wasn't any better or equal. Their weight, teeth, skin usually wasn't dramatically different.

 

So I don't know.

 

I think "healthy" can be very subjective sometimes too. For example, I won't touch soy or faux foods. I try to use real butter, real sugar, but use them in moderation.

 

Another person thinks splenda is healthy and so they have two slices instead of one.

 

I eat as healthy as I can. I think real food is healthier, but mostly because it just tastes better.

 

Prime example is bananas. We had never paid extra for organic bananas until a few months ago. We always just bought whichever looked decent at the walmart. Dh was at whole foods and decided on a whim to try the organic bananas there even though they are usually double or more the cost of regular ones are the local grocery. Oh. My. God. We can't eat that other crap now. The taste difference was tremendous. We ate 20 pounds of bananas in a few days. Even my kids noticed. The ones who previously didn't like bananas had to try these to see what the hype was and loved them. Seriously months later we are all still in shock that that is what bananas are supposed to taste like. It's like going from cardboard grocery store tomatoes to home grown. You can't go back. You'd rather not eat it than buy that other stuff.

 

But are we healthier?

 

I have no idea.

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So, with the twinkie diet thread, I thought I'd post my thoughts/questions on the opposite, supposedly healthy lifestyle.

 

I've noticed that many of the employees and customers of "health food stores" don't appear healthy in any way shape or form. I've seen greasy, stringy hair, browning teeth, unhealthy looking skin, gauntness, etc. I've noticed that several employees that have assisted me look like this plus have horrid breath and body odor. NOT a good selling point!

 

So, do the foods and products sold by health food stores really promote health or is my view of what health looks and smells like skewed?

 

 

All the health food stores in my area are run by very healthy-looking Mennonites. I think there is a group among Mennonites that are particularly health-conscious. I'm sure someone told me about this at one time, but I can't remember what it had to do with being Mennonite (maybe nothing??)

 

That said, I do know what you're talking about because I've been in health food stores where the people didn't look so healthy. I think it's important to remember that things such as "low-fat," "vegetarian/vegan," and "macrobiotic" do not necessarily equate to healthiness. One can eat potato chips and popcorn all day and still be vegan, for example. Many people adopt certain diets in the interest of "health," but do not bother to find out how to eat healthily within that diet. Some diets take a lot more effort to eat healthily than others.

 

Also, many health food stores carry analogues of popular foods -- vegetarian hot dogs, soy cheese, etc. These are still high calorie foods, often laden with preservatives and other non-food ingredients to make them taste like the original food. These stores also carry versions of potato and corn chips, pretzels, soda pop, ice cream, etc. In moderation, these things not especially bad, but they're not exactly what we think of when we think of "healthy diet."

 

I don't think it's fair, though, to assume that someone working at a health food store has to especially healthy anymore than it would be fair to assume that anyone working at a hospital must be especially healthy. It's just where they work.

Edited by Audrey
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I think it's important to remember that things such as "low-fat," "vegetarian/vegan," and "macrobiotic" do not necessarily equate to healthiness. One can eat potato chips and popcorn all day and still be vegan, for example. Many people adopt certain diets in the interest of "health," but do not bother to find out how to eat healthily within that diet. Some diets take a lot more effort to eat healthily than others.

 

Also, many health food stores carry analogues of popular foods -- vegetarian hot dogs, soy cheese, etc. These are still high calorie foods, often laden with preservatives and other non-food ingredients to make them taste like the original food. These stores also carry versions of potato and corn chips, pretzels, soda pop, ice cream, etc. In moderation, these things not especially bad, but they're not exactly what we think of when we think of "healthy diet."

 

Exactly.

 

Bill

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In my experience, my friends who focus on health and shop at hfs are no healthier than those who do not. I guess I probably don't hang out regularly with many people who eat hamburger helper everyday, so i can't compare to that. We eat adequately-there are no foods that we will not eat, but we eat lots of homemade foods (including cookies) and fruits and veggies. I am not one to stress over food. Only my baby has been sick this calender year (and he was exclusively breastfed). I have never noticed more or less sickness based on what we eat. I do notice that if my kids are around groups of kids a lot or if they don't get enough rest they are more likely to get sick.

 

I think that socioeconomics accounts for a lot more of health than we give it credit for.

 

Also, as far as supplements at hfs, my opinion is that anything that is potent enough to have a beneficial effect is also potentially potent enough to have a harmful effect, so I don't just assume any "natural supplement" from a hfs is safe and healthy.

Edited by lovinmyboys
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Oh I agree there is absolutely an economic factor.

 

Also, some people don't seek healthier foods until they are very sick.

 

Cancer patients, those who develop autoimmune issues, or who have a child develop a need for a restricted diet to allergies.

 

Some don't seek it until then bc of finances and some because they simply didn't know about it.

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When we go to the HFS and my daughter sees all the chips, and candy, and sodas, she asks for them on the basis that they're at the health food store, and they're organic. I tell her that organic junk food is still junk food.

 

You can go to a regular grocery store and fill your cart with fresh meats, eggs, nuts, vegetables, and fruit. Or you can go to Whole Foods and fill a cart full of crackers, chips, cookies, candy, and soda. I think where you shop matters less than how you shop.

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We go to the health food store for easy gluten-free items when my aunt visits (because I can pretty much guarantee my whole kitchen is contaminated!) and pick up freshly ground peanut butter and some bunny crackers while we're there.

 

I really hope nobody is trying to gauge our overall lifestyle while we're there. ;)

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I've noticed that many of the employees and customers of "health food stores" don't appear healthy in any way shape or form. I've seen greasy, stringy hair, browning teeth, unhealthy looking skin, gauntness, etc. I've noticed that several employees that have assisted me look like this plus have horrid breath and body odor. NOT a good selling point!

 

So, do the foods and products sold by health food stores really promote health or is my view of what health looks and smells like skewed?

I hate to say, but there is a contingent of vegetarians who have sallow skin and just look....like they need some pep! Dennis Kucinich comes to mind. I had a neighbor who looked like this. I didn't give it much thought until his Vegetarian Times magazine was delivered to me by mistake. It made me laugh -- aha!, I thought, That explains his look! I was a vegetarian (sans sallow skin) at the time I made these observations.

 

There is a lot of snack foods at health food stores, and one can certainly eat healthfully at regular grocery stores. There is just less stuff that's both processed AND specialized there (like gluten free, vegan brownies), at least until recently. Heck, old time farmers, who grew virtually everything they ate, didn't shop anywhere.

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We have no health food stores here, lol. I have noticed among my friends that when they first go vegetarian they also tend to be in a "hippy" mindset, iykwIm. IOW, they go ALL natural, no more soap, no more toothpaste, very little washing.

 

I think it's like the recovered smoker that wants to ban all smoking of any kind anywhere. Or the newly baptised that is ready to scream the good news from the roof tops. At first the fire is more like a blaze, eventually moderation kicks in. In some cases, though, the blaze just keeps burning away and the bo gets stronger :lol:

This was a HUGE standout for me when I started eating healthy! I notice it every. single. time.

 

When I shopped at Wal-Mart, a majority of the people were morbidly obese, on oxygen tanks, etc. and there was a small army of motorized carts that people were driving b/c they were too unhealthy to walk, and they weren't elderly. Every other person I saw just looked horribly unhealthy, including myself! Even a majority of the children I saw were unhealthy looking, waddling down aisles, unable to run b/c of the weight they are carrying. And the people would pass by me with carts FULL of pizza, fruit snacks, potato chips, soda, candy, and every other processed food known to man! It frustrated me to no end b/c I was trying so hard to eat healthy and avoid that junk. It was ESPECIALLY infuriating when a skinny person walked by with all that junk in their basket, LOL!!

 

I now shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes and the difference is like night and day. I do see a few "less than in optimal health" people (and I should include that my fat hiny is one of them!) but they are obviously like me and working toward the healthy lifestyle goal. Being a very social person, I have had quite a few conversations with strangers I've met there! I have yet to see someone in a motorized cart at Whole Foods and most of the people are in very good shape and look very healthy. Nice shiny, supple skin, nice hair, healthy weight, fit, the older people are in good shape, etc.

 

I know it's not PC, or nice to notice/mention these things, but I couldn't help it! It was so, in-your-face-you-would-have-to-be-blind-not-to-notice, obvious! I haven't step foot inside a Wal-mart in about 3 years, LOL. I even went to visit my mom in Georgia and showed her the same thing b/c she also has weight issues.... it was pretty obvious there as well, and my mom started eating healthy and has lost lots of weight! I have lost some.... I still need to get it through my head that Organic chocolate cake is STILL chocolate cake! Plus, I have metabolic syndrome working against me. But, I do get a physical every year and my Dr. said I'm in pretty good health for being obese, so if I would just lose the weight I would be golden, LOL.

 

Anyways, I think that if you really kept an eye open for it when out and about, you would notice it more often. And I don't notice it/point it out to be mean. I just believe that this country needs a HUGE attitude adjustment when it comes to healthy lifestyles and we need to start putting 2 and 2 together :)

I've seen unhealthy people everywhere. I've seen healthy people everywhere. In this case, you may be seeing what you want to see. It's not that what you said isn't "pc" it's that you've stereotyped myriads of people based on where they shop.

I will say that while I believe good nutrition is very important (and shows itself as people age) it seems many (most, all?) Health Food stores make a good deal of money selling supplements and remedies of very dubious value.

 

Bill

:iagree:

Oh and lets get real. The salaries of the health food store workers probably doesn't buy them healthy food.

:iagree:

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I have noticed among my friends that when they first go vegetarian they also tend to be in a "hippy" mindset, iykwIm. IOW, they go ALL natural, no more soap, no more toothpaste, very little washing.

 

:iagree:

Many of the folks I know who are into the natural/organic lifestyle don't just switch the food they eat but also give up using conventional hygiene products (shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.) for natural or even home-made versions. Let's just say I haven't personally been terribly impressed by effectiveness of the natural versions of hygiene products I've tried ;)

 

Also, I've noticed friends who have converted to the "raw foods" diet tend to look very gaunt & unhealthy. Not enough nutrients IMHO.

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:iagree:

Many of the folks I know who are into the natural/organic lifestyle don't just switch the food they eat but also give up using conventional hygiene products (shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.) for natural or even home-made versions. Let's just say I haven't personally been terribly impressed by effectiveness of the natural versions of hygiene products I've tried ;)

 

Also, I've noticed friends who have converted to the "raw foods" diet tend to look very gaunt & unhealthy. Not enough nutrients IMHO.

I think it's the tendency to go overboard that does it. Most people (ime) tend to not just change a little, but try to do a complete overhaul of everything about themselves. That, and it takes time for our bodies to adjust to any change. I always forget that and tend to want to give up any change, before giving it enough time to settle in, iykwIm.

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We have no health food stores here, lol. I have noticed among my friends that when they first go vegetarian they also tend to be in a "hippy" mindset, iykwIm. IOW, they go ALL natural, no more soap, no more toothpaste, very little washing.

 

I think it's like the recovered smoker that wants to ban all smoking of any kind anywhere. Or the newly baptised that is ready to scream the good news from the roof tops. At first the fire is more like a blaze, eventually moderation kicks in. In some cases, though, the blaze just keeps burning away and the bo gets stronger :lol:

 

I've seen unhealthy people everywhere. I've seen healthy people everywhere. In this case, you may be seeing what you want to see. It's not that what you said isn't "pc" it's that you've stereotyped myriads of people based on where they shop.

 

:iagree:

 

:iagree:

 

Aren't YOU stereotyping people based on their diet choices? Vegetarians are dirty and have B.O.? I have to say I am highly offended by these recent posts accusing vegans of being dirty. :confused:

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Well, I've never noticed vegans being dirty or smelly. I just notice some look under nourished by their diet choices. To be fair, I have also known Atkins diet adherents who reek of sausage, hours after mealtime.

 

However, I have observed a fair number of those in favor of legalizing marijuana look like they've stepped out of a time warp. For that, I really don't see why one must force the connection with tie dye, long braids, and a general flower child look. There really are other reasons (I gather) to be in favor of decriminalizing it other than just to blast back in time.

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Aren't YOU stereotyping people based on their diet choices? Vegetarians are dirty and have B.O.? I have to say I am highly offended by these recent posts accusing vegans of being dirty. :confused:

No and I haven't accused all vegetarians. I said:

I think it's the tendency to go overboard that does it. Most people (ime) tend to not just change a little, but try to do a complete overhaul of everything about themselves. That, and it takes time for our bodies to adjust to any change. I always forget that and tend to want to give up any change, before giving it enough time to settle in, iykwIm.

and this:

I have noticed among my friends that when they first go vegetarian they also tend to be in a "hippy" mindset, iykwIm. IOW, they go ALL natural, no more soap, no more toothpaste, very little washing.

 

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I shop all over the place to gather the ingredients for our family's meals. DD has sever reactions to artificial colors, preservatives and some natural foods. To gather a week's provisions I go to the farmer's market, the local grocery store, HFS and an Amish farm. I try to have healthy food and some junk food. Some weeks I can get away with going to my local grocery market and other weeks I need to go out to the HFS to get an approved cheese and some sunspires. Because lots of supermarket meats have added preservatives I get local meat and that gets expensive but I get a discount for buying bulk and we eat less meat to balance out the cost. We are a pretty healthy family but I blame that on our time spent outdoors, our age and our good luck.

 

I also think that much of the food at the grocery store, wal mart and HFS these days is of low nutritional value. Many items from the HFS mimic the typical things you can buy in the grocery store, i.e. poptarts, sugar cereal, bread. The items at the HFS are made with evaporated can juice rather than high fructose corn syrup, etc. But it is nice for folks who like poptarts but are allergic to corn to have the option to eat a poptart on occasion. That being said I must admit I buy Natrual Cheetos. They have no nutritional value but man are they delicious and fast!

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Guest mrsjamiesouth

Ds10 usually gets 1 cold during the year, and I don't take him in for that. DD6 never catches anything. Last year the whole family had really bad chest colds and he didn't catch it. DD2 has only been sick once, that chest cold last year.

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Well -you can eat healthy at a regular store and not healthy at a health-food store. I shop at Trader Joes and still have to shop the perimeter. My kids will want to grab things there that are still junk food, still processed food. I find I have to look carefully at Whole Foods too.

 

What people define as healthy eating varies from person to person. I think eating meat is healthier than being Vegan, I believe grains should be used sparingly instead of making up the bulk of a diet, that butter is better than margarine, that higher fat milk is better than skim milk, that bacon grease is healthier than canola oil, full-fat Fage is better than non-fat yogurt, and eggs are better than oatmeal, etc. Others would be horrifed by my shopping cart.

 

As far as organics, grass-fed, etc. Yes I think they are healthier if they are actual healthy foods but I would say that eating a diet that is comprised of conventionally grown meat and produce with some occasional soaked or sprouted grains with processed foods being an occasional treat than a diet comprised mostly of organic but still processed junk and processed foods.

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Even if people in HFSs are less healthy than others (I don't know if they are) correlation is not causation. A lot of people are drawn to health food stores (either as customers or employees) because of illness - allergies, gluten intolerance, cancer, etc. so maybe the healthier food and supplements are making them healthier even though they are very sick. Many vegetarians shop or work at health food stores and being a vegetarian can make a person less healthy if they aren't careful to get enough protein and many aren't. Also many health food store employees do lead a more natural lifestyle so they are less likely to wear make-up and dye there hair and so they may look more washed out.

 

I do agree that there is a lot of junk food at the health food store and people are under the impression that soy is healthy but I have heard it is not and HFSs are just full of soy products.

 

I have seen so many obese and disabled people at Walmart that I think there must be some accessibility issues that make Walmart particularly good for them. They have wide aisles in the food section, long hours (if they want to avoid crowds), and lots of plus size clothing as well as low prices.

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I am ignoring most of your OP here. I have family members who don't understand how natural health is a good thing because many of us that use it are terribly unhealthy. That is easy to answer. We were unhealthy for a long time before trying natural health. People who have no health problems find it easier to stick to traditional food and health care so most of them don't patronize health food stores, natural health doctors etc.

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I don't use our local health food store, but buy the same items for far less through a food co-op. Most of the people in the food co-op appear to be relatively healthy. The co-op sells everything except fresh meats, so we can get canned, frozen, boxed, bulk, bagged and fresh foods, as well as most major brands of organic/natural household products and personal care products.

 

That said, the organics are still more expensive than Walmart or Aldi. I can't afford to eat everything in an organic form, so I have to balance that out. I buy organic frozen foods (I get organic frozen broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, peaches, strawberries, brussels sprouts, peppers and onions), and I buy organic fresh apples, pears, and oranges (and whatever else is in season at the time and is affordable). I've noticed WM is starting to sell more organic and all natural products and I will buy them, if I need them. I can't always afford organic dairy. We're not huge dairy consumers, so I'm not as picky about it. I do try to get chicken and beef that's not loaded with hormones and preservatives, but again, very expensive and sometimes hard to come by. I just do the best I can.

 

I do feel healthier, but I'm also on WW, so losing weight contributes to that, as well.

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