5 tips on being a smart food shopper
The grocery store is where it starts and healthy eating begins with what we put in our grocery cart. But do you find it confusing and challenging if you are unsure of what to buy? When we set foot inside a supermarket, you want to go in there with a purpose and a plan. Otherwise, you may walk out with a bunch of c.r.a.p. food – calorie rich and processed. We don’t want that do we? It doesn’t do much to promote our health and a steady diet of unhealthy foods may end up promoting just the opposite – heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other health-related conditions.
Navigating a supermarket with the purpose of choosing healthy foods is easier than you think. If you stick to the five ways to be a smart food shopper, you’ll have your smart food shopping habits in the (grocery) bag.
1. Plan ahead
If you get to the grocery store without a plan or a list of foods to buy, you will end up wasting time and money feeling overwhelmed by the overabundance of choices and packages practically screaming “buy me!” Throughout the week, write down what to buy, take the list with you and your shopping experience will be much easier. Also, don’t shop hungry. The chips, cookies, and ice cream will tempt you more than you realize.
2. Choose at least 3 different colors of produce
The produce section is where you should the most time in. Take time to browse around to see what is available and what is on sale. It is always a treat to shop for nutrient-and-antioxidant-rich produce - make a habit of always buying at least 3 or more colors of a variety of fruits and veggies on each trip. Choose green (broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard), red ( strawberries, cherries, raspberries, beets), yellow (squash, yellow peppers, bananas), white (garlic, onions, potaotes), and purple (grapes, blueberries, eggplant). The more variety and color you fill your grocery cart up with, the more nutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fiber you fill your body up with
3. Avoid certain aisles
We all know our weaknesses. If your weakness is eating potato chips or cookies, pretzels and crackers, or soda and other sweetened beverages, avoid going down those aisles. The temptation will be too much and before you know it, your grocery cart is overflowing with junk food.
4. Become a label reader
If the Nutrition Facts Panel is a foreign to you, become better acquainted with it. If you have high blood pressure and need to watch your sodium intake, the nutrition facts panel will help you. If you have diabetes and need to control your carbohydrate intake, the nutrition facts panel is your friend. Use it to select healthier foods and to get the most nutrients for your buck.
5. Choose lean protein sources
The meat section can be a challenging area to shop healthy. It’s not that healthy choices aren’t available, it’s knowing how to make those healthy choices.
When choosing beef, it is often graded either prime, choice, or select. Prime cuts have the most marbling meaning more fat, calories and also will be more expensive. Choice cuts have less marbling and will have the most variety. Select cuts have the least amount of marbling making them leaner (less calories and fat) and will also be less juicy and flavorful. The best selection is to go with select cuts looking for words like “loin,” “round,” or “sirloin.” Select ground hamburger marked “higher than 90% lean” or “95% extra lean.”
When shopping for poultry, choosing chicken or turkey breast without the skin is always a smart buy. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fatty heart-healthy fish a week such as tuna or salmon – use either fresh, canned, or in a pouch.