The first step to eating healthier – at home – is to stock your house with healthier foods, of course. This is easier to do than you may think. Try these suggestions for healthy grocery shopping next time you visit your market:
1) Always read the food labels. Even foods that seem similar can have very different nutritional values, fat content and calories. If a food doesn’t have a label, don’t buy it. It is risky not knowing what you are eating. This is especially true for food allergies. A tip to keep in mind: Ingredients are listed by weight; for example, a label that starts with sugar means that the product has more sugar than anything else.
a. If you don’t understand how to read food labels, there are many community colleges or health clinics offering this service for free. Check with your local community.
2) It is recommended to limit the amount of the following in your daily meal plan:
a. fatty foods
b. sodium – many prepared foods contain an excessive amount of sodium
f. nitrates – processed meats such as bologna and hot dogs (traditional)
The healthy grocery shopping rules of thumb:
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Fat can cause heart disease, so keep total fat to less than 20 percent of calories, with less than 10 percent from saturated fat.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Salt can cause high blood pressure, so keep sodium and salt to 3,000 to 4,000 mg day.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Caffeine can raise your blood pressure and facilitate dehydration.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Cholesterol can clog arteries, so limit it to no more than 300 mg a day.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Sugar adds unneeded calories, and nitrates may cause cancer.
3) Go for the good fat. Some fat is necessary in your diet. The goal, however, is to cut back on saturated fats. Various nutritional sources recommend that you keep your saturated fats to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories. The “good” fats include monounsaturated (which can lower bad cholesterol), and polyunsaturated.
a. Sources of monounsaturated fat: canola and olive oils and nuts.
b. Sources of polyunsaturated fat include: corn, soybean and fish oil.
4) Buy fiber rich foods. Whole grains, fruits, beans and other vegetables are high in fiber. These, in turn, help you eat less, maintain a healthy digestive tract and keep up your energy level. Fiber is also known to fight off bad cholesterol. Dietitians recommend up to 35 grams of fiber a day. Keeping fiber filled items in mind is a great way to stick with your healthy grocery shopping.
5) Eat before you go on your healthy food shopping trip. Never shop on an empty stomach. This is prime breeding ground for impulse junk food buying. How many times have you stopped in the store on your way home from work, only to buy items you really didn’t need?
6) Make a list of what you need prior to your healthy grocery shopping trip. Take this list with you. That way, you will stick to a plan and not overspend.
7) Buy fresh organic (preferred) produce. Buying fresh produce is the easiest way to stick to your healthy shopping trip. Take the time to feel and smell the produce. There is a skill in buying fresh produce that is acquired.
8) Take recipes with you. By taking recipes with you, you can check off what you need and stick to the meal plan. This is another way of making a list, too.
These are but a few of the many ways that you can prepare yourself for your next (or first) healthy grocery shopping trip. Enjoy!