Healthy Grocery Shopping Tips

Healthy eating begins at the grocery store. If you keep good foods in your fridge and pantry, you will eat good foods! Grocery shopping can be a stressful and difficult task for many because of the endless amount of choices offered. Here are some tips to help guide you in selecting the healthiest choices:

  • Never go hungry! 
    • Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach could end in you buying items you weren't originally planning on. You could be craving junk foods, or unhealthy foods may look more appealing if you are very hungry. Go to the store after eating a meal or snack. If you are stopping on your way home from work, make sure to keep a granola bar or mixed nuts in your car for a quick snack before getting to the store. 
  • Plan ahead -
    • Writing down your list before you head to the grocery store sets you up for success. For example, if you go to the grocery store over the weekend, think about what your meals are going to be for the week ahead of time and write these down. It takes a little extra time beforehand to write up a list, but it will save you time running back and forth to the store for missing ingredients. 
  • Shop the perimeter - 
    • The healthiest foods are located along the outside perimeter of the store. Spend the majority of your time and money on the produce section, working your way around to the fresh meat and dairy sections. Avoid going down aisles that only have foods you don't need (example: the chips, cookies, and snack food aisles).  Although there are several unhealthy items in these middle aisles, there will also be some healthy items you should look for which include items such as nuts, oils, herbs, spices, and nut butters. 
  • Buy in season - 
    • Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season will assure you are getting the most nutrients possible (and the best taste!) Check out this link for what's in season. Even better, find a local farmer's market for the freshest fruits & veggies!
  • Consider convenience - 
    • Often times in the produce section, grocery stores carry pre-sliced fresh vegetables and fruits at a higher cost. If you know you personally won't have time with your busy work or school schedule to slice your own fresh produce at home for recipes or snacks, it is worth spending the extra money to assure you get in more fruits and vegetables! Don't feel bad about splurging on fresh fruits and vegetables. Having these handy snacks such as sliced watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots will encourage you to eat them without forcing you to putt in the effort of cutting them up yourself.
  • Frozen Foods - 
    • When fresh fruits and vegetables aren't available, frozen fruits (without added sugar) and vegetables (without added cheese sauces) are an excellent, convenient option. They have just as many nutrients as fresh, but you pay less and can store for longer periods of time. Frozen fruits make a great dessert or smoothie option, and frozen vegetables can easily be steamed in the bag and added as a side for lunch and dinner.
  • Whole Grains vs. Enriched, Refined Grains - 
    • When choosing which bread to buy, don't be fooled by the color of the bread in the package. Several brands of refined breads are darker due to added molasses or caramel coloring. Also be careful of packages that say "multi-grain", "12-grain", or "wheat bread". All three of those phrases mean it is not 100% whole wheat, but instead could be a mixture of wheat and enriched white flours. You should be looking at the ingredient label to see that "whole wheat" or "whole grain" is listed as the FIRST ingredient. 
    • The least processed grain, the better. For example: old-fashioned and steel cut oats are better for you than instant oatmeal packets. They have no additives and higher amounts of fiber. For dry cereals, look at the nutrition labels to make sure it has at least 4g of fiber or more. Also take a look at the amount of sugar in your cereal…the less sugar, the better!
    • Check out my blog on Everything you Need to Know about Bread!
  • Dairy Products - 
    • Dairy products are high in calcium and vitamin D. For yogurt, try Greek or Siggi's Skyr style for higher protein and choose yogurts with less than 12 grams of sugar. There should be more protein than sugar! Check out my blog on whether you should go dairy-free.
  • Poultry and Meat - 
    • When buying poultry, stick to skinless light meat (breasts) rather than dark meat (legs and thighs). Choose meats that are 90% lean or higher. Buy fresh meat rather than bags of frozen meat, and fresh deli meat rather than prepackaged lunch meat to reduce the amount of preservatives used. Choose grass-fed over grain-fed, and buy organic when possible to avoid added antibiotics and hormones. 
  • Read the labels!!
    • Avoid foods that contain a long list of ingredients - a general tip is no more than five ingredients. Avoid foods that list artificial flavorings or ingredients you can't pronounce! Avoid foods with ingredients such as MSG (monosodium glutamate) and partially hydrogenated oils, fractionated oils, and interesterified oils (trans fats). Don't fall for marketing tricks such as labeling something as "all natural". There is no true meaning of the term "natural" on food labels, although it is often confused as meaning "organic". Just because something is labeled as "natural", "healthy", or "low-fat" does not necessarily mean it is healthy! Same goes for gluten-free. Just because a food is gluten-free does NOT mean it's a healthy choice...sugar, salt, and saturated fat are all 100% gluten-free!

 

Grocery lists are provided to all Eleat clients. Cost is $5.99 for non-clients. If you'd like a copy, email me at angie@eleatnutrition.com.