Written By Julie Paiva, CHHC
Grocery shopping can be daunting and confusing especially if you are new to a healthy living lifestyle. Here are some of my favorite tips to help you navigate through the aisles with ease.
DON’T SHOP HUNGRY
I’m sure you have made the mistake at least once in your life of going to the market while hungry. Before you know it, everything on the shelves is calling your name. When you get to the register, you realize that half the items in your cart are only there because they are satisfying to your tummy at the time. Therefore, you should eat a balanced “real food” snack or meal prior to venturing out to the grocery store. If you tend to shop following work, pack extra snacks and eat them toward the end of your day or on your way to the store. A full stomach will help you stay on track with your healthy food choices and keep your pocket book happy too.
Whether you are a daily, weekly or monthly grocery shopper, it is best to take the time prior to your trip to figure out what you are going to cook. Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time will help you know exactly what is needed. This helps you to avoid food waste, save money, and be mindful of your purchases. Keep the ingredient lists out while you follow the step below.
CREATE A LIST
Once you have a plan for your meals and snacks, then you can make a shopping list. This can be done the “old-fashioned way” with pen and paper, with the note pad on your phone, or using handy shopping list apps. I often have a running tally of the staples I need as I run out of them before my next trip. Piggy back on this list when you create your complete shopping list. Having a detailed log will make you be less vulnerable to give in to temptation as you go up and down the aisles. Make a commitment to stick to your list and you will be more likely to stay the course of your good intentions to eat well, therefore, preventing you of mindlessly shopping and ending up with items that don’t serve you well. Instead, you will be mindful and aware of what you are buying. Supermarkets and manufacturers know how to market merchandise to consumers, especially hungry ones that shop without a plan.
SHOP THE PERIPHERY
Shop the perimeter of the store. This is where you will typically find the fruits and veggies as well as the dairy, meat, chicken and fish departments. Within the inner aisles of the store, you will mostly find packaged and processed foods. If you are shifting to a healthier living lifestyle, shopping from the periphery of the grocery store will give you the healthiest options. Not only is this the best food options for you, but also it is the fastest way to cook. Think about purchasing single ingredient foods. For example, broccoli, meat and apples are single ingredient foods. You can have broccoli and chicken for dinner and an apple for a snack. Try to eat like your ancestors. They didn’t have packaged processed foods or frozen meals. They ate whole, natural, farm-fresh products. If you venture into the aisles, read the ingredient lists. Adopt the rule: If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Attempt to stick with items that have 5 ingredients or less and limit foods that are in a box, bag or can. Most packaged products are full of chemicals and sugars.
COLOR YOUR PLATE
Choose a rainbow of colors when shopping, and obviously I’m not talking about anything with artificial colors. Kale and spinach over iceberg lettuce. Buy sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Consider berries over watermelon. Pick a wide variety of vibrant colored vegetables instead of the pale variety. Colorful vegetables and fruits are packed with more nutrients.
Choose organic fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and eggs when possible. If your budget is a concern, follow the dirty dozen rule for fruits and vegetables. When it comes to meats always buy organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed and finished. Eggs also need to be organic, pasture-raised. This way you know that what you are buying was humanely raised, given the best natural diet possible, free from harmful additives and medications. (Check out some of Marpe Wellness’ past blogs for more information on the dirty dozen, choosing eggs and grass-fed meats.)
Do not put sugary drinks into your cart! Say goodbye to sodas, sports drinks, and fruit juices. These are liquid carbs made up of empty calories. They cause your blood sugar to rise significantly. Purchase spring water or sparkling water. Jazz your water up by adding cut up lemons, limes, oranges, berries or fresh mint in it. These are tasty alternatives to sweetened drinks!
BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF
Learning to eat healthy and changing your grocery shopping habits is a process. In time, you will find that shopping and eating for a healthy lifestyle is easier but is certainly a transition. Be gentle with yourself as you make this change.