It’s happened to all of us, we go grocery shopping and by the time we get home we wonder, “What the heck did I just buy?”. It is especially tough after you buy something to justify not eating it when you’re not on a diet. After all, you paid for it already so you might as well eat it right?
I’ve had too many times to count where I came back home with some unhealthy meals, snacks, and desserts such as frozen pizzas, chips, and cookie mixes. It wasn’t until I started implementing some sound strategies while grocery shopping that I started to be more disciplined while grocery shopping and only picked up the good stuff I needed for my diet and kept the junk where it belongs, on the shelf.
I’ve created a set of 4 simple and easy to follow tips to picking healthier foods while grocery shopping to help you make the same sound choices I make each and every week. I now have gotten to the point to where I do my grocery shopping on autopilot since these tips are so easy to follow and I am confident that you can get there too if you follow them for a little while.
Picking Healthier Food Tip #1 – Don’t go on an Empty Stomach
This one always used to mess me up. I found that when I would go grocery shopping on an empty stomach I would always come home with more food than I actually need in a week. This isn’t so bad as I can just buy less the following week, but what I noticed is by going on an empty stomach I also had a harder time controlling what kinds of food I bought which meant I ended up with more junk food than I should be eating. This became a problem because I felt like I had to eat it since I didn’t want it to go to waste.
Bottom line is don’t set yourself up for failure at the grocery store by going on an empty stomach. Eat something so you will be able to clearly think with your mind and not your stomach.
Picking Healthier Food Tip #2 – Plan Meals in Advance
This one is so easy yet many people don’t do it. Before you go grocery shopping spend a few minutes to write out a brief list of what you want to eat for the week. You don’t have completely plan every detail of your week out before shopping, but you should have a good idea of what you’ll be eating for the week. By having a list of meals, it will be easier to go in, grab the ingredients, and get out with getting many unnecessary items.
Picking Healthier Food Tip #3 – Stick with Whole Foods When Possible
Whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and fresh meats should be the foundation of your meals. If you can help it, try not to buy too many canned or boxed meals. Whole fresh foods provide the greatest nutritional content and are natural without you having to worry about any artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or preservatives. Eating whole foods can make you feel full with less food because it packs the most nutrition pound for pound. Remember, your feeling of hunger is your body telling you that you need nutrients and not a certain amount of food. Your body wants quality over quantity.
Picking Healthier Food Tip #4 – Read the Labels
Whenever I go to the grocery store I always read labels on any prepackage food. Why? Well, you never know what they put into things until you read the ingredients. I also put as much emphasis on reading the ingredients list as I do the nutritional content. Whenever I come across ingredients I don’t know about I always use a simple strategy that is effective 90% of the time. If the name of the ingredient is too complex, then I don’t get it.
Here is a brief list of ingredients I completely avoid no matter what due to some nasty side effects many people have from them (I also am prone to migraines and I believe these are migraine triggers too).
- Anything with a color name followed by a number (e.g. red #40, blue #1, yellow #5, etc.) – These food colorings can be toxic and are banned in most countries except in the United States, go figure huh?
- Titanium Dioxide – Used to color paint and foods white, an artificial color.
- Caramel Coloring – Usually made chemically and is another artificial food coloring that colors things brown. Usually found in caramel, dark sodas, many beers, and some baked goods.
- Sucralose – Don’t let this name fool you. This is not a type a sugar. It is an artificial sweetener better known by the name of Splenda. There is some controversy surrounding this sweetener and dangers, but I err on the side of caution.
- Aspartame – Another artificial sweetener which has been found to cause tumors in lab rats in some studies.
- Acesulfame potassium – Same thing as Aspartame, another artificial sweetener which has shown that it can cause tumors in lab rats.
- MSG or Monosodium Glutamate – A common flavor enhancer used in salad dressings, deli meats, and other processed foods. Can cause a wide range of symptoms such as headaches and arm or leg weakness.
- BHA and BHT – Preservative to extend shelf life in foods.
- Nitrates – Used to preserve foods. Commonly found in hot dogs, deli meats, and other processed meats.
This is just a small list of the ingredients I tend to avoid, but these are at the top of my list.
Now that you have the 4 simple tips to picking healthier food while grocery shopping, it is time to put them to use today.
What do you find to be your biggest struggle when you try to shop healthier at the grocery store?