When your kitchen is well stocked with easy-to-prepare, nutritious foods, healty eating is a snap. Here’s how to navigate the grocery store aisles using some simple, sensible shopping tips:
- Shop the Outer Edges. The periphery or outer edges of the store, is where some of the healthiest food is located; the middle aisles are where everything comes in cans, boxes or prepackaged form.
- Shop for Color. It can take years of study to memorize all of the phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables, but it’s relatively simple to put together a food basket that looks like an art project. Get as many colors (fruits and vegetables) in your cart as possible – purple, blue, red, orange, yellow, and all of the shades of green.
- Managing the Meats. You don’t have to avoid the meat aisle, but do look for lean cuts (round, sirloin) and skip the dark meat poultry. Try to find antibiotic and hormone free brands, and avoid items that are pre-seasoned or packaged with saline solutions.
- Read Labels. Note the nutritional information beyond the total fat, calories or carbohydrates. Look for minimal added sugars (listed under total carbohydrates), and lower sodium values as well.
- Check for Fiber. Aim for an intake of 25-30 grams daily, which means buying items that are high in dietary fiber.
- Avoid Trans Fats. Found in products that have hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Most prepackaged goods, especially cakes, crackers, cookies, muffins and even conventional peanut butter will have some, and hydrogenation produces what may be the most damaging fat of all, trans fatty acids (trans fats).
- Don’t Shop Hungry. You’re more likely to buy items you don’t really need, or might not otherwise choose. Shop on a full stomach, and you’ll be less likely to make impulse purchases and more likely to have a shopping cart loaded with healthy foods!