6 tips for healthy grocery shopping
Your grocery shopping routine can make an enormous difference in your overall health. Making wiser purchasing decisions based on your personal health goals will ensure that your kitchen is full of healthy snacks and everything you need to create healthy meals. And keeping unhealthy foods out of the house will make it much more difficult to indulge your sweet tooth when temptation strikes. Follow these tips for filling up your grocery cart with wholesome goodies the next time you’re at the store.
1. Plan ahead
Before you leave the house, make a list of everything you need to stick to your ideal diet. If necessary, browse the web for some new recipes to make during the week, and check to see which ingredients you need to purchase. Go through your refrigerator and cabinets and check the levels on all of your staples, including spices. Create a written list of everything you need, or use a grocery app that will keep track of the items you purchase most often.
2. Stick to your list (no exceptions!)
When you shop, stick to your list precisely. Don’t give in to cravings or impulses! Restricting yourself to a shopping list can help prevent unnecessary and unhealthy purchases, such as candy or soda. If you’re someone who likes to stick to the rules, this strategy will work particularly well for you. If it isn’t on your list, you can’t buy it. (And no adding items to your list last-minute!)
3. Eat before you go
Of course, “don’t shop hungry” is the golden rule of grocery shopping. If possible, go to the store right after eating a meal. If your schedule doesn’t allow this, eat a healthy, filling snack before you head to the store. Both protein and healthy fat will help keep you feeling full while you’re browsing the grocery aisles so that you won’t be tempted to buy everything in sight.
4. Buy in bulk to stock up on healthy options
Buying in bulk is not just a great way to save money, it’s also an easy way to stock your home with healthy meal options. While you won’t be able to purchase everything in bulk (fresh fruits and veggies will have to be purchased more frequently), you can stock up on less-perishable health food items such as dried beans, nuts, quinoa, and lentils. Stocking your pantry with healthy, diet-friendly options means you’ll never have to hit the local fast food place because you don’t have anything to eat at home.
5. Stick to the outer aisles
The healthiest foods are found around the grocery store’s perimeter — produce, fresh meats, seafood, and sometimes a designated health-food section. Avoid the center aisles of the store, where all of the processed, packaged foods lurk. Go into these aisles only for staples such as spices, nuts, and frozen vegetables. If fresh produce isn’t an option or you need to stock up, choose frozen veggies over canned, which are typically higher in sodium.
6. Read labels and pay attention to ingredients
Getting into the habit of reading labels is a must if you want to take control of your health. Don’t fall for health claims on labels — the healthiest foods are the ones that don’t even have labels. Many people check nutrition labels for information such as calorie counts and trans fats, yet skip over the ingredients list. The ingredients list should be your priority, as it’s important to understand exactly what you’re putting into your body. Avoid foods with ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, monosodium glutamate, high-fructose corn syrup, and anything that you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce. Whenever possible, opt for foods with the fewest ingredients.
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