What you need to know to find healthy choices in every aisle of the grocery store.
You’ve decided to start buying healthier food for you and your family. You want to cut back on empty calories, sodium, added sugar, preservatives, and junk foods in general to lose weight and improve your health. But when you get to the grocery store, you don’t know where to start. You’re overwhelmed by the hundreds of choices lining the shelves.
Many packaged foods are labeled with claims to be healthy, but are they really? Don’t waste your grocery budget dollars on foods that don’t live up to their promises.
Make wise grocery purchases with the following tips.
Tip 1: Stay on the Outskirts
Some of you grocery shop so often you have the store memorized. You know where each item on your list can be found. If you think about it, most grocery stores are organized in a similar way. The dairy, produce, deli, and bakery are located along the perimeter of the store. Interestingly, this is where you’ll find your healthiest options. Do most of your shopping along the outer edges of the store and you’ll avoid the processed foods in the center aisles.
Tip 2: Doing Dairy
Get the calcium and vitamin D you need for strong bones in the dairy aisle. When it comes to the type of milk and which yogurt to buy, go for skim or one percent rather than milks higher in fat, and look for yogurt with natural flavors and no artificial colorings. While you’re there, be sure to substitute full-fat cheeses and creams for those labeled low-fat or skim.
Tip 3: Get the Grains
Always choose 100-percent whole-grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. Whole grains are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which fill you up and give you energy. Feed your family cereal that contains at least 4 grams of fiber and as little sugar as possible. Many cereals advertise themselves as kid friendly but are anything but good for your kids. Remember—the less processed a food is, the better. Regular old oatmeal that you may have to cook on the stove is a great option, as it’s full of whole grain, fiber, and protein.
Tip 4: Picking Produce
What could be healthier than fruits and vegetables? Load your cart with a variety of fresh or frozen produce. Full of nutritious antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, a diet rich in fruits and veggies will help you lose weight and stay healthy. And while canned fruits and vegetables do have benefits, you should eat them sparingly, as they often contain high amounts of sodium or sugar.
Also, juices can be a healthy part of your diet if consumed in moderation. Always buy 100-percent fruit or vegetable juice.
Tip 5: Meat, Poultry, Fish
Get the protein your body needs for energy from meat, poultry, and fish. Choose lean cuts, poultry without skin, and wild-caught fish. At the same time, avoid processed meats and deli cuts that contain added nitrites and nitrates. These preservatives may be dangerous for your health.
Tip 6: Skip Processed Foods
If there is only one type of food that you avoid, this is it. As you walk down the center aisles of your grocery store, shelves are lined with processed foods that are filled with artificial colors, flavors, and ingredients you can’t even pronounce. Before putting an item in your buggy, read the nutrition label.
Have to get something from the middle of the store? Here are some good rules for buying healthy groceries in the inner aisles. Avoid foods that are made of more than five ingredients, contain artificial ingredients (colors, flavor, or sweeteners), or have an ingredient that you’ve never heard of or can’t pronounce.
Also, make sure the food is a good source of at least one of the following: antioxidants, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, folic acid, vitamin D, fiber, active cultures, or a B vitamin. But remember even if a packaged food contains good nutrients, it may also contain a lot of junk. A cereal may claim to contain 10 essential vitamins and minerals, but also be high in sugar and artificial colors—so choose wisely.
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