I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of healthy shopping advise before, like, make sure you go to the store with a list, don’t shop when you’re hungry, blah, blah, blah…
All good advise, to be sure, but if you want to see real change in your health, here are some additional keys to shopping to keep in mind.
The #1 most important thing to do is choose REAL food. If you make this your priority it will make most of your shopping easy. On a side note, I believe buying organic whenever you can is best but I also know that can be tough. It’s expensive and sometimes hard to find. Do what you can and make the best choices for your family.
- The produce section should be your first stop. Look for seasonal fruits and veggies and refer to the USDA’s Dirty Dozen list for produce that should be bought organically if possible. You can’t go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables so load that cart! Pre-cut and packaged produce is super convenient just make sure its fresh and nothing else was added.
- In the meat department, choose lean cuts of meat and seafood. Beware of convenience packs of things like pre-made burgers and other meats pre-seasoned or marinated and meats injected with added fluids. Just check labels so you know what you’re getting. When choosing meals, remember that a small amount of meat goes a long way and meats don’t have to be the center of the meal!
- When buying grains like oatmeal and rice, look for whole grains with minimal or no processing and avoid packages with added spices or seasonings. You can always add your own. For example, individual serving packs of oatmeal are convenient but are usually loaded with sugar and other additives. Make your own with whole grain oats, a dash of cinnamon and some dried fruit or nuts. It takes about 10 minutes to make a weeks worth of breakfast packets. In the morning, combine the packet contents with water and microwave for a quick, healthy breakfast.
- Nuts and seeds are great non-meat sources of protein. Look for raw or lightly roasted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, almonds and walnuts, to name a few! Avoid mixes with candy or other sweetened items in them and salted nuts and seeds. There are lots of options and grocery stores are carrying more and more varieties so experiment, mix some together and find what you like. Nuts and seeds are also great as a salad topper.
- In the dairy department, read labels and buy organic if possible. Look for natural cheeses. Not cheese-flavored products! Buy yogurts with whole fruit and no added sugar. Better yet, buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit since you’ve already been to the produce section! Honey is also a great, more natural sweetener.
The #2 most important thing to do is read ingredient lists. If you are buying packaged food, ignore the front of the box and never assume you know whats in it. Calories, fat and sodium content are important things to consider but if you opt for products with short, pronounceable ingredient lists, you’re probably doing ok! I realize this isn’t true 100% of the time but chances are, the less processed the food, the better it is for you.
Need dinner tonight?…
If you’re running short on time and you need to put something on the table quick, a fresh roasted chicken from the meat or deli department and a tossed salad are about as easy as you can get.