Your choices when buying groceries can make or break your health. Lack of planning and deceptive marketing can derail your trip to the grocery store, which in turn will lead to unhealthy eating throughout the week. Because quality nutrition is the foundation of a healthy body, we have some tips to help you get the most out of your next shopping trip.
Many people don't make a list before going grocery shopping, or if they do, they don't strictly buy only what is on their list. This is a major no no. Have a list that includes only healthy, unprocessed foods and do not deviate from it at all. When you go into the store with no plan, it is easy to start throwing junk food in your cart. Have you ever seen a prominent display in the store that says "Buy Kale!"? Doubtful, but you've likely seen displays for "Buy one two liter soda get the second 50% off!" It is the junk food companies that pay top dollar to market their foods. If you stick to your list, you won't fall into these traps.
Never go to the grocery store when you are really hungry. Everything will look amazing, especially the easy to prepare/pre-prepared processed foods. Even just a small healthy snack prior to shopping will help you stay on track.
A good question to ask yourself is, "would people a century ago have identified this item or the majority of its ingredients as food?" If the answer is no, it is probably not a good choice. Your great grandmother wouldn't have recognized monosodium glutamate or aspertame as food ingredients. Yes, this rule has some exceptions. Coke has been around since 1886 and beer has been around for thousands of years, but overall the rule will eliminate a lot of processed foods. People 100 years ago didn't eat foods with a list of ingredient's as long as a term paper, so stick to organic produce, meats and dairy.
Don't buy that big pack of cookies saying "Oh I will just have a couple this week and make them last." We all know how well that usually works out. If you keep unhealthy treats in your house, they are going to get eaten (probably sooner rather than later). If you stock your fridge and pantry with healthy foods, you will need to eat healthy by default.
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking a food item is healthy due to clever marketing. An item may be labeled fat free, but contain a ton of sugar. Another common trick is saying "A good source of (some nutrient/vitamin)." Just because something contains one quality ingredient doesn't mean it is an overall healthy choice. Also, always be on the lookout for foods that contain high fructose corn syrup in their list ingredients and then avoid these products like the plague. This incredibly unhealthy form of sugar is hiding in many processed foods. Check out this list to see some common processed foods that are sneaking sugar into your diet.
If you want to learn more about nutrition and healthy living, contact the SCNM Medical Center.