4 Ways to Shop Healthier

Written by Noelle Osika, Dietetic Intern from North Carolina Central University

 

Never shop hungry

 

Let’s face it…..trying to shop healthier at the grocery store can be overwhelming. Where do you even begin? You walk into a grocery store full of temptations…the fresh smell of cookies from the bakery, the fried chicken calling your name as you walk by and then the free food samples.  The truth of the matter is all of these things are tempting, but even more so if you shop hungry. The first strategy to shopping healthier is to never shop hungry. As mentioned above, shopping hungry makes it easier to fall into temptation and make it difficult to make healthy choices. Make it a habit to have a balanced meal before your grocery shopping adventures; consider also bringing a calorie-free beverage with you, or chewing some sugar free gum to help distract yourself from temptation and keep you on task.

 

Plan ahead and make a weekly menu…and don’t forget healthy snack options

 

Before you even think about going to the grocery store you should have a plan. Not only will this save time shopping in the grocery store, but it will keep you from buying foods that you don’t need and keep more money in your wallet. The day before or the day of your grocery shopping trip, start thinking about a menu for the up-coming week. If you are new to this keep the menu simple. Keeping the menu simple will help you stick to your menu and not be overwhelmed when it comes to preparing and cooking your meals. Also, don’t forget to think about healthy snack options for the week while planning.

We all have busy schedules, so cooking every night might be too much. In this case, when you cook meals, cook more food for leftovers. For example, if you cook Monday and Tuesday, you could have your Monday leftovers on Wednesday and your Tuesday leftovers on Thursday or vice versa.  You don’t want to be overwhelmed cooking a new meal every night. Same goes for the weekend, let’s say you cook Friday dinner and Saturday lunch, those meals could have leftovers for Saturday dinner and Sunday. Planning your menu ahead of time keeps you on track at the grocery store and makes it easier to eat healthier during the week.

4 Ways to Shop Healthier

Shop the perimeter

 

First and foremost, shopping the perimeter keeps us away from the processed foods containing added sugars and extra calories.  The center aisles are full of tempting “deals”, such as “BO-GOs”, that will distract you from sticking to your plan. The perimeter of grocery stores is where you can find fresh fruits, vegetables, and high-quality protein. There are a couple exceptions to the perimeter strategy. First, don’t count out the frozen vegetable and fruit aisle. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a good choice to consider because they keep longer and have the same nutrient value as fresh produce. And second, don’t forget the unprocessed whole grains (brown rice, whole grain cereals, etc). You may need to venture down these aisles, but if you stick to your grocery list you have planned, it will be much easier to not give in to buying items not on your list.

 

Read the Nutrition Facts Label

 

Reading the nutrition facts label is the easiest way to know what is in the food. The nutrition facts label will give you information about the number of calories being consumed and the amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats per serving. Be cautious here because although food labels are getting a makeover, not all products have changed labels to account for the number of servings in a product. The new label will contain information per serving and information for the total package/bottle.  For example, a bottle of juice could be 100 Calories, 25 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g protein per serving size of 8 fluid ounces, but the whole bottle is two servings. So, if you drink the entire bottle of juice, you would be consuming 200 Calories, 50 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, and 0 g protein. Reading nutrition facts labels will help you make healthier choices when buying groceries.

 

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