9 Secrets to Smart Shopping

Have you ever gone food shopping with the best intentions of getting prepared for a week of healthy eating only to find yourself filling the shopping cart with chips, dips and snacks that will derail your progress. If so this list will help you stay the course and keep your shopping experience according to plan.  The 9 tips below are a list of things I have learned over years of working with various clients as well as my own experiences.   Try to incorporate some of these tips on your next trip to the grocery store.

1. Do not shop on an empty stomach

If you take a trip to the grocery store when you are hungry, you tend to buy items on impulse and are less likely to stick to your shopping list.  The layout of the grocery store aisles is designed for impulse buying.  Ever notice all the candy at the check out stand? It is easier to avoid these temptation stations when you are not hungry.

2. Head straight for the fruit & vegetable aisle

Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy diet.  These are the things that should fill up your cart and have lots around when you are cooking or reaching for the snack on the go.

3. Learn how to read the labels

“Sugar-free” on the label refers to sucrose (table sugar).  Other sugars to look out for are glucose, dextrose, fructose, maltose, lactose, corn syrup solids, corn sweeteners and hydrolyzed cornstarch.  Honey and fruit juice concentrates are also sugar.  Also look for the other ingredients such as salts and fats – ingredients listed first are present in the largest amount.  Some items have a nutrition information panel that lists the amount of calories, protein, carbohydrate and fat per serving.  This helps you compare the nutrients between two similar products, for example, the fat content.  Certain food items list fiber, sodium, sugar and other nutrient content as well.

4. Choose lower fat meat & poultry…..and consider fish for dinner too

Avoid meats that have a thick layer of fat on the outer edge or in between the muscle (known as marbling).  If a layer of fat is present, remove as much as possible before cooking.  Duck has more fat than chicken, so have it less often. Fish is low in fat and some contain Omega-3 fatty acids that offer benefits for a healthy heart.

5. “Reduced fat” doesn’t mean fat free

Many products have less fat than the original product but may still contain more fat than you want. read the label and check grams per fat per serving.

6. When buying fruit juice, look for 100% unsweetened juice

Fruit drinks, herbal teas and other flavored drinks contain a lot of sugar and little nutrients.  100% juices are best value for your money in terms of nutrient content.

7. If you are buying tuna, be sure that is packed in water

Avoid the fish canned in oil.  the added fat contributes extra calories that you do not need.  Look for tuna that is packaged in foil pouches instead of tin cans.  (Suggestion: Try the Star Kist Albacore Tuna packed in water in the tear open pouch. Its easy to open, no can opener needed and you avoid the aluminum can.)

8. Avoid food items in a box

Its always best to buy fresh food instead of making meals out of a box. generally, there are many hidden preservatives, sugar and calories in premixed meals.

9. Try something new

Buy a new kind of food every week as they add variety to your diet and provide you with different nutrients.