Dos and Don’ts to Help You Make Healthier Choices at the Grocery Store

Woman at the Grocery Store
Confused about how to make healthier choices at the grocery store? Should you buy organic? Below are some dos and don’ts when shopping.

Dos

Make a list and stick to it. 

It takes a little more time and effort, but it will help you eat healthier and save money.

➧ Healthier eating usually includes cooking some of your meals at home. Find some simple recipes you’d like to make regularly.
➧ Plan your meals for the week ahead of time.
➧ Make a shopping list of ingredients for the meals, plus any basics and snacks, like low-fat milk, whole-grain loaves of bread, whole fruit, and nuts.

Buy fruits and vegetables in season. 

In-season produce is usually tastier and less expensive.

➧ Check your local supermarket for the best in-season buys.
➧ Fruits and vegetables from local farmers at a farmer’s market are always in season.
➧ Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are also good choices because they are usually picked at the peak of ripeness and packaged right away.

Spend most of your time and food budget in the outer aisles of the store. 

The outer aisles of the grocery store usually have whole foods, not processed foods. There you’ll find healthier choices like fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, eggs, dairy products, and whole grains.

➧ The inner aisles are more likely to have processed foods that are higher in fats, added sugar, and sodium.
➧ Look for low-fat or fat-free dairy products and lean meats, such as ground beef or poultry with 7% fat or less (93% lean).

If you do buy packaged food, read the food labels and ingredients. 

➧ Compare similar items, like two types of cereal, to see which has more important nutrients.
➧ Look for foods with lower amounts or no trans fats or saturated fats and added sugar.

Reduce sodium. 

Sodium is in table salt, but most of the sodium we eat is in processed foods. Sodium is hidden in a lot of prepared foods, such as pizza and bread because it is a natural preservative and can make food taste better.

➧ Look for the “no salt added” label on canned vegetables.
➧ Buy soups and broths with lower sodium.
➧ Choose lower-sodium versions of packaged foods.

Don’ts


Don’t shop when you’re hungry. 

We’ve all been there, but it’s best to snack on a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit before you go grocery shopping. If you’re hungry, you may be more likely to grab foods that are convenient but less healthy.

➧ Bring along a healthy snack for your kids while you shop.
➧ Buy some cut-up fruit or vegetables from the produce section before starting down the aisles.

Don’t eat a lot of sugar. 

Stay away from foods that have sugar added to them. Added sugar means unneeded calories and has no nutrition value or essential nutrients.

➧ Drink water or unsweetened tea instead of sugary drinks or energy drinks.
➧ Limit the amount of sugary treats you buy.
➧ Choose canned fruit packed in water rather than syrup.

Don’t overdo solid fats. 

Fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter, are usually high in saturated fats or trans fats, which you should limit.

➧ It’s okay to cook with oil, but the type of oil you choose is essential. Look for healthier choices, such as olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, corn oil, and safflower oil.
➧ If it fits into your budget, look for spray oil so that you can use less oil when cooking.
➧ Packaged baked goods like cookies, cakes, and muffins often have saturated fats and trans fats, in addition to added sugar. Buy them only once in a while.
Disclaimer: The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the authors, but it should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. Readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.
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