Grocery Shopping for Healthy Change

Friday, August 7, 2009 - 3:18pm

Do you find that you are reaching for easy, processed foods or taking the fast food route more often than you should? Over time, those unhealthy choices just might catch up with you in the form of medical problems and weight issues. But you can beat the odds with a healthy plan of action and some help from your local grocery store.

Learn to Say No to Unhealthy Foods

There are some foods you know to be unhealthy, but others are not so obvious. The following foods should be avoided or used as an occasional treat:

  • Any foods with trans-fats on the label
  • Starchy vegetables, like potatoes or corn
  • Packaged and processed snack foods
  • Cereals with high sugar content
  • Canned fruits, especially those packed in syrup
  • Pastries, sweets, and sugary drinks

Say Yes to Healthy Foods

Eating healthy foods doesn't mean picking at a tiny meal with all the flavor of cardboard. There are many flavorful and healthy options to replace those sugar-laden and over-processed foods:

  • Fresh fruits are filling, packed with vitamins, and satisfy that sweet craving.
  • Trick yourself into eating better. Replace your ground beef with ground turkey, opt for the leanest cuts of beef, and choose brown rice instead of white.
  • Have a craving for a potato? Choose sweet potatoes instead.
  • Get your daily servings of dairy with low-fat cheeses, plain yogurt, and skim milk.
  • Use chicken to replace beef in your favorite recipes.
  • Lean fish is a great source of healthy oils and vitamins, and the fat content is very low.

Now Off to the Grocery Store!

When you walk into the grocery store, do so with a plan. You might be tempted by the processed foods, no matter how unhealthy you know they are. Go into the grocery store armed to do battle against those unhealthy temptations.

  • Make a list. Create healthy menus for the week, then make a list of what you need. When you shop, stick to the list.
  • Understand your reasons. Keep in mind the reasons you should avoid unhealthy foods. You should feel better, have more energy, and be healthier when you eat the right things.
  • Do not shop on an empty stomach. When you're hungry, everything looks good. If your stomach is full, you may not be as tempted to let your sweet tooth lead the way.
  • Stay around the perimeter of the store. The next time you go into your grocery store, take a moment to look at the layout. The foods that are good for you--fresh produce, dairy, lean meats, and vegetables--are on the outside perimeter. Shop around the perimeter and avoid the tempting middle aisle.
  • Educate yourself. Before you go into the store, read up on cholesterol, carbohydrates, and the different kind of fats. When you get to the store, read the labels. The more you learn about which ingredients are bad for you, the better your knowledge of healthy foods should become.

A little preparation can go a long way toward healthier eating. The more you know about your grocery store and the products in it, the faster you can develop good shopping habits that keep healthy foods in your cupboard.