By Sue Manning, Certified Health Coach
Grocery shopping can be overwhelming, especially when you are trying to eat healthy. Conventional grocery stores are filled with heavily processed foods with ingredients that we can’t even pronounce. I understand that with our busy lifestyles, convenience is key — from frozen foods to jarred sauces, it’s tempting to take the easy way out.
Eating a cleaner, healthier diet offers benefits from weight loss to disease prevention, and freshly prepared food simply tastes better! The next time you’re grocery shopping, follow these easy tips to making healthier food choices.
1.Buy as Fresh as Possible
The fresher you buy, the better. Nutrient-wise, you’ll be getting more bang for your (calorie) buck when you stick to fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes. Frozen produce can be a viable option since much of the produce is frozen just after harvest and the nutrients are locked in. It is always better to be eating fruits and vegetables whether fresh or frozen.
When possible choose lean organic, grass-fed meats and organic dairy products since these items are made without the use of hormones.
2. Go in With a List and Stick To It
Walking into a grocery store without a list is an easy way to wreck a healthy diet — suddenly your cart is filled with processed foods. Before you even head to the store, create a healthy meal plan for the week and use it as your shopping list. Once you’re there, don’t deviate! Not only will you walk away with a cart full of healthy groceries, you’ll also save on time and money.
3. Choose Prepared Foods With Simple Ingredients
If you must buy prepared or processed foods, be a food detective and check the label. Choose products with the fewest and simplest ingredients. Do your best to avoid hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and colors, stabilizers, preservatives, excessive amounts of fat and sodium, and added refined sugar or corn syrup. A good rule is to avoid foods that contain ingredients you can’t pronounce.
4. Shop on a Full Stomach
Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. You are sure to make unhealthy food choices based on cravings. Try to arrange to shop just after you’ve eaten — you’re less likely to buy fatty, carb-heavy foods, and it’ll be easier to resist all the free food samples that grocery stores hand out.
5. Shop the Perimeter
You’ve probably heard this before, but if you can, shop along the perimeter of the store. This is where you’ll find fresh, whole foods like fruit, veggies, meat, dairy, and eggs. All of the highly processed and packaged foods are displayed in the center aisles. If you need to go into the center of the store to grab a bottle of olive oil or a jar of mustard, make it quick — get in, grab it, and get out!