By Diane M. Henderiks, R.D., Dietitian in the Kitchen and True Citrus Consulting Nutritionist.
Confused in the grocery store? It’s no wonder, as the average grocery store has over 30,000 items, according to the Food Marketing Institute. On top of that, not every grocery store has the same 30,000 items—which means you can encounter thousands more just by shopping in several different stores. In 1900, Americans chose from among 500 or so different foods; today we choose from more than 50,000.
Foods come in a wide variety of forms, however those items that are part of a nutritious diet consist of dairy, meat/fish/poultry, vegetables, legumes, fruits, & grains. You need to have these ingredients it takes on hand to cook healthy and freshly preparing meals made with these ingredients is the best way to ensure optimal health through nutrition. It is also very important to keep yourself well hydrated with beverages that do not contain added sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Go through your cabinets and the fridge to see what you have on hand in the kitchen before going to the store. This is very important because you don’t want to buy something you don’t need and impulse buying can cost you more than extra money it will cost you added calories and temptation at home. Go to the grocery store with a list. Although it may take a little longer to shop at first, the benefits will be worthwhile!
When grocery shopping, the best bet is to concentrate your time around the periphery of the store, the produce, meat, dairy, and whole grain bread sections. But don’t stop there, you’ll find nutritious foods like beans, whole grains, and cereal in the middle aisles. You will also find bottled water and seltzer there.
In today’s hectic world, many people eat a lot of fast food and pre-packaged food. For many of us, time saving is a necessity, but keep in mind that some choices are better than others. Whenever possible look for foods that are minimally processed.
Many grocers are trying hard to offer more nutritious items for today’s busy lifestyle. There are many low-sugar, low-sodium products including soups, frozen meals, ready-made salads and dessert items on our supermarket shelves. Read the labels, as by law manufacturers are forced to put nutrition labels on the products so you can tell the calories, sodium and fat in all items you are buying and make the healthiest choices. Choose these convenience-type foods in moderation and as I mentioned before freshly prepared meals are always best. Remember that it’s all about lifestyle changes and not diets!
The following 7 guidelines will help you to be a health smart grocery shopper.
DIETITIAN IN THE KITCHEN | SUPERMARKET SEVEN:
- NEVER go grocery shopping hungry!
- Choose the SMALLEST fruits and veggies. Nature packs many of our fruits and veggies in perfect serving sizes, and with higher concentrated nutrition.
- Choose LEAN meats, poultry, and fish!
- Choose dairy products that are low in sugar and additives.
- Choose WHOLE GRAIN bread & cereals, avoid refined products!
- Opt for LOW SODIUM products whenever available.
- Let your INTELLIGENCE make your food choices NOT momentary, fleeting cravings!