You've either set the goal to eat healthier or your provider recommended some changes in your diet, but where do you begin? And when you go to the grocery store, it's so easy to be overwhelmed with …
You've either set the goal to eat healthier or your provider recommended some changes in your diet, but where do you begin? And when you go to the grocery store, it's so easy to be overwhelmed with fat-free this, low-calorie that, which may sound helpful, but is it?
When you take the first step to making healthy changes, it's important to have a plan. Visiting the grocery store is no different. Here are my tips on how to navigate the aisles with nutrition in mind:
Before you go to the store
Do an inventory of what you need, plan your meals for the week, write out your grocery list and eat a snack. Don't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.
Make a list
This helps you remember what you need and how much. If you stick to it, having a list can help you save money, eliminate waste and avoid impulse buys.
Organize your list
Break your list into categories, such as produce, meat/seafood, dairy, frozen goods, shelf stable/dried goods. If you frequent the same store, arrange your list according to how you walk through it.
Understand nutrition labels
If you're preparing recipes, it's important to understand the number of servings and serving sizes. If you're conscious of calories, 2,000 calories a day is a general guide.
Understand the nutrients on the labels
Take a closer look at labels with this in mind. Get less saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. Get more dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium.
Taking the price per ounce, pound, etc., into account can help you determine which is the better value, or just select the cheaper option if that is your goal.
How to pick fruits
Eating fruit is a great way to get something sweet that's also natural and good for you. Here are some tips on selecting and storing them:
Navigating fresh produce
Knowing how to choose the right vegetables – or even getting enough in your diet – can feel overwhelming. Follow these tips for getting value and nutrition:
Frozen vs. canned vegetables
These can be healthy options, too. Choose frozen without sauces or seasonings. Look for low sodium or no-salt canned selections.
How to choose beans
All beans are nutritional powerhouses, but some are packed with more nutrition than others. Cooked lentils offer the highest daily values of fiber, iron and protein, but soybeans, chickpeas, navy beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas and lima beans are close behind.
Selecting better cereals
Look for 100% whole-grain cereals over those that contain a portion of whole grains. Choose brands that minimize added sugars and contain unprocessed fiber, like wheat bran.
Tips for picking yogurt
Yogurt seems like a healthy option, and it can be! Just be vigilant about checking the ingredients. They should include milk, the bacterial cultures used to turn milk into yogurt, and not much else. Avoid those with sugars listed near the top of the ingredients.
How to buy bread
The more "whole" bread is, the better, as in 100% whole wheat or whole grain. "Enriched" breads still include refined (more processed) ingredients. Stay away from those, as well as breads that contain more salt and sugar.