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I know how tough grocery shopping can be, especially for healthy foods. Sometimes it is hard to know what to buy, and what counts as “healthy” food. Here are some tips on how to grocery shop the healthy way.

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1. Shop the Perimeter. The freshest foods are usually on the perimeter of the store. The center aisles usually contain more processed and packaged foods.

2. Don’t go to the store hungry. Have you ever gone to the store hungry and next thing you know, you bought the whole store?! I definitely have been guilty of this! Whenever I go to the store hungry, EVERYTHING looks good! The Oreos and ice cream are especially more tempting when I go hungry. If you eat before you go to the store (even if it’s just a little snack), it will be easier to stick to your list, and those high fat and processed foods won’t call your name so loudly:)

3. Plan Ahead. I’m going to tell you right now that I am not the best planner in the whole world. But the good news is, is that I have started planning ahead for my grocery store trips! I’ll tell ya what, it has made my life a whole lot easier! If you can plan your meals at the beginning of the week and make a shopping list based on the meals you will be having, it will save you from multiple grocery trips during the week, and from picking up those extra snacks that you didn’t want to buy. Each Sunday, my husband and I sit down and make a meal schedule. This is nothing fancy…it’s kind of like, “hey what do you want to have for dinner this week?” He usually tells me what sounds good, and I make a list…see?! Easy peasy.

4. Know how to read nutrition labels. Look on the back of packages and look at sugar content (see here for guidance on how much sugar is too much), fat content, protein, carbohydrates and calories. Be aware of what you are buying! Medline Plus gives tips for reading labels and buying healthy foods below:

  • Choose tuna that is packed in water, not oil.
  • Check the label for the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” in the list of ingredients. These are unhealthy trans fats. The closer to the beginning of the list these words are, the more of them the food contains. The label will give the total trans fat content, and you want this to be zero.
  • Carefully read the label of any food that claims it is a weight-loss product. Even though these words are used, the food may not be a healthy choice for you.
  • Know what “lite” and “light” mean. The word “lite” can mean fewer calories, but sometimes not much fewer. There is no set standard for that word. If a product says “light,” it must have at least 1/3 fewer calories than the regular food has.

***When buying canned fruit, make sure you choose fruit that is canned in 100% fruit juice or water. Also, when buying canned vegetables, look for low sodium options.

5. Make your cart look like MyPlate! Make 50% of your cart fruits and vegetables. Go to the produce section first to make sure you are getting plenty of fruits and veggies. Make your cart colorful! Try to incorporate new fruits and veggies each week. If you usually buy romaine lettuce, try buying kale or spinach, or if you always buy white potatoes, try buying sweet potatoes one week. Try to make your cart look like a rainbow: choose veggies and fruits that are red, orange, green, yellow, purple, blue, and white. Try to incorporate fruits and veggies into every meal or most meals. Fruits and veggies are great snacks also. To get specifics on what you should look for in each food group when shopping, click here.

***Have a problem with produce going bad before you can eat it? Try eating the produce that doesn’t last as long at the beginning of the week, and saving longer lasting produce (like carrots, apples, oranges), for later in the week so you don’t have to throw it away.

6. When buying in bulk, try dividing up your food. Buying in bulk may lead to overeating. Try dividing your food into separate portions right when you get home from the store. You can freeze extra items like lunch meat, bread, etc.

Hopefully some of these tips helped! Have fun shoppin!

-McKell

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