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Keep a Healthy Diet Using Smart Shopping Strategies

Keep a Healthy Diet Using Smart Shopping Strategies

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The power of choice. It’s one of the greatest benefits — and biggest downfalls — we have when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle and eating a healthy diet. You choose what foods to keep in your home. You control what foods go in your cart at the grocery store.

Making smart, healthy choices is key to your success on your weight loss journey. Here are a few smart shopping strategies to keep your grocery cart filled with items to keep you healthy and fit.

Bring a list.

 This is the most basic yet most helpful strategy you can adopt. When you make a list of the foods you plan to buy before you step foot in the grocery store, you are far less likely to end up with “danger” foods in your shopping cart. As an added bonus, making a list (and sticking to it!) can also help you stick to your shopping budget.

Shop the outer aisles.

 Whole foods are the healthiest and most nutritious foods and are located on the perimeter of the store. Fill your cart with a rainbow of colors of fresh produce before moving on to the rest of the store. The inner aisles are packed with processed and canned foods that can be a danger to your diet. Avoid these “danger aisles” as much as possible. Don’t test yourself by passing through the soda, candy and snacks.

Read the labels.

 If you purchase packaged food, read the nutrition and ingredients labels before it goes in your basket. Look for foods that are high in fiber; protein; vitamins A, C and E; calcium; potassium; magnesium; and iron. Limit the foods that contain high amounts of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sugar and sodium.

The fewer ingredients, the better.

 As a general rule of thumb, try to buy foods that have five or fewer ingredients. This should help eliminate foods that are packed with added sugars, fats and preservatives, keeping you focused on buying whole foods instead.

Look for whole grains.

 Choose foods that contain whole grains when shopping for breads, cereals and pasta. Regular oatmeal is a better choice than instant oatmeal, and brown rice, quinoa, bulgur and barley are other healthy whole grain options

Don’t skip the fish.

 When shopping the meat section, don’t pass by the seafood. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish per week. Salmon is a great choice because it’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids, doesn’t have a strong fishy flavor and is generally affordable.

Choose low-fat dairy.

 You need dairy for its high contents of calcium and vitamin D, but dairy can also contain high amounts of fat. Look for low-fat or nonfat options. Single-serve yogurts and pre-portioned cheeses are a convenient option to help you get dairy in your daily diet.

Fill the gap with frozen.

 Frozen fruits and vegetables can help you fill the gap in produce, especially during winter when many produce items are out of season. Frozen foods are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables, are easy to prepare and will keep longer than fresh foods.

Shop the farmers market.

 During peak seasons, shop your local farmers market for locally grown fresh fruits and veggies. Food co-ops such as Bountiful Baskets offer another affordable and convenient way to stay stocked up on produce items — it might even encourage you to try new foods!

Go digital.

 Download a shopping app to help you track what you buy and keep your shopping cart’s contents healthy. ShopWell is available for iPhone and Android and allows you to make shopping lists and scan food products for nutrition facts and ingredients, leading you to the healthiest options.

Eating a healthy diet starts with what you put in your shopping cart. If you don’t keep unhealthy foods in your home, you will be less tempted to indulge in an unhealthy treat and more likely to reach for a healthy snack instead.