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- 10 Secrets to Mastering Healthy Grocery Shopping
Monday, December 29, 2014
“Have you ran out to the grocery store for bread, milk, and eggs, and come back with bread, milk, chips, cupcakes, soda, and forgot the eggs?” You are not alone. Grocery shopping is a never ending battle between intention and temptation. Unfortunately for most of us, temptation usually wins out. The following tips are designed to help you track down the most nutritious foods, and avoid the most tempting distractions and impulse buying traps.
1. Timing is Everything – try to establish a routine for grocery shopping same time and day of the week. Try not to shop when hungry or stressed. If possible, leave the kids at home. If you have to bring the kids, resolve to not give in to the pestering for candy etc. Instead, play a game where they get to pick out a healthy snack. Studies have shown, people spend less if they routinely shop. We tend to spend more when we just run out to grab a few items.
2. Come Prepared – start by taking inventory at home. Include spices, cooking oils, and condiments. Make a list and stick to it. Only deviate if it is a healthy choice. The list should include fresh fruits and veggies, as well as fresh frozen or slightly processed fruits and veggies that will keep longer than the fresh ones. For example, dried fruit, low or no sugar fruit juice, frozen peas, steamed or microwaveable vegetables. The next week, “rotate” your fresh fruits and vegetables to include different choices. Include some whole grains, lean proteins, and low fat dairy items. For every item you choose, try to think of at least 3 different ways you can incorporate that item. For example fresh baby spinach leaves can be used is salads, added to eggs, added to pasta sauce, or a grilled chicken wrap. This way, you will be more likely to use all the fresh food you are going to purchase. The biggest expense when it comes to grocery shopping is wasted food.
3. Hit the Walls Running – Shop the perimeter first to get to the whole food action. Beware of the bakery which is usually located right near the fruits and veggies. Also avoid the caramel dip tucked next to the apples, and the full fat dips placed near the bags of spinach. Marketers call this “vignetting.” It’s the same thing as the boutique that sells you a $35 scarf to go along with the $40 blouse you just got on sale. Most grocery stores get more deliveries on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, so you will get a larger selection if you shop the 1st and avoid the after church crowds.
4. Rethink the Fresh Fish – fish labeled fresh does not mean off the boat, it just means it was not frozen. Most grocery stores get their fish delivered at the beginning of the week, but do check your grocery store for their schedule. Frozen fish does not go bad, and commercial freezing techniques minimize textural damage.
5. Counter Attack the Deli Counter - when buying deli meat choose fresh over the processed versions for lower fat, sugar, and sodium. Avoid the pre-made deli salads such as the coleslaw, potato salad and macaroni salad. Choose the hummus or bean dip instead.
6. Be a Cheese Whiz – most grocery stores have 2 cheese sections. In the domestic section, shop the lowest fat possible. Keep in mind, these are usually ready to eat items there. If cheese is a “gateway” food for you, better to shop the imported section. The choices there will be higher in fat, however, studies have shown that people usually serve smaller portions of the more expensive, full-fat variety, therefore consuming less.
7. Don’t get Butchered by the Meat Department – Choose select cuts, which are the leanest, most healthful, and most affordable meats you can find. Prime cuts are often marbled, which means more fat. Most meat is packaged in family sized cuts. Ask the butcher to package the exact amount you need. Beware of the sale items and the 2 for 1 deals. While cost effective, they can sometimes be at the end of their life. Check the expiration date.
8. Attack the Interior – this is not the place to browse! Know ahead of time what you want and where it is. For example, the unshelled nuts are often hidden between cookies and chips next to the chocolate covered nuts. Vitamin water, sports drinks, and all natural sparkling sodas are usually on the same isle as the regular and diet sodas.
9. Look high and Low for the Healthier Choices – all of those high sugar cereals are lined up right at our waist level, which corresponds to a child’s eye level. In any store, some products are placed at an adult’s eye level because the manufacturer paid a “placement fee”. Heavily promoted items are more likely to be unhealthy. Watch out for “Healthy” items that really are not – keep in mind, “Organic” does not always mean low fat, sugar, or sodium. Watch out for the “Snackwell” phenomenon; you eat more because you think it’s healthy! If it’s organic cake – it’s still cake and should be considered a once in a while treat.
10. Check Yourself Out – this does not necessarily mean the self check-out. This means beware yet again of the temptations lined up at the checkout line. One study noted that only 12% of customers made last minute, impulse purchases at the self-checkout station vs. 47% at the cashier!
Time these helpful tips and take the stress out of navigating the grocery store. And remember, if you can resist it at the grocery store, you only have to resist it once. If you buy it and take it home, you have to resist it every hour of every day!
To learn more about how TNT can help you reach your health and weight loss goals, visit us at www.tntgetfit.com or contact a Health Educator to schedule your FREE Health Assessment - 704-549-9550
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