By Lauren Lodder
Making sensible dietary decisions for our families is not always easy, particularly when we are bombarded with marketing ploys that lead us to believe certain products are healthy when they are not. It can all be so overwhelming. From one mom to another, here are a few tips for healthier grocery shopping.
1} Buy less :: Often we snack out of boredom or stress rather than out of hunger. If excess food isn’t available in our homes, we eliminate the opportunity to over eat.
When I shop, I always bring along my recycled grocery bags and buy only what can fit in those bags. This forces me to carefully consider my food selections.
2} Make lists :: The benefit of developing a list ahead of time is we can deliberate on each item in advance to determine if we really need it. Then we can bring that list to the supermarket and purchase just those products.
Throughout the week, I jot down the grocery items my family is low on. This drastically reduces the number of trips I have to make to the store and ensures that my family always has healthy food on hand.
3} Read the ingredients :: Many products claim to be “Healthy” when quite the opposite is true. For example, non-fat items are often filled with tons of sugar and other artificial additives. Additionally, just because a product says, “Gluten Free” or “Organic” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is nutritious.
As a general rule, I try not to buy products with too many ingredients or with ingredients I don’t recognize. This keeps me away from items with added sugars, fats, salt and preservatives.
4} Shop on the perimeter :: Highly processed and less healthy foods tend to occupy the center aisles, while you can usually find the more wholesome, healthier foods on the perimeter of the store.
Of course there are exceptions to this. However, when I do my grocery shopping I steer clear of the center aisles unless I have a specific product in mine—such as beans or oats.
5} Don’t shop hungry :: Waiting until we are starving to eat often makes us less discerning about what foods we buy. It is better to shop when you have recently had a (healthy) meal and are inspired to prepare other healthy meals.
I try to make it a habit of bringing wholesome goodies, such as apples or carrots, with me to the store in an effort to replace the unhealthy snacks that beckon me (and my children) when we shop.
6} Purchase foods that must be prepared—excluding fruits and vegetables :: Often we snack on chips and crackers because the food is convenient; we can grab a bag and go. Unfortunately, this also means it is likely highly processed and refined.
Almost everything in my refrigerator must be prepared, or it is a plant-based food that can be eaten as is. It is unlikely that I would consume too many pieces of broccoli whereas I would have no difficulty eating an entire bag of chips or cookies if given the opportunity.
7} Buy fresh :: The longer an item sits on the shelves the more nutrient-poor it becomes, as molecules in food break down over time. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to expiration dates and to examine your produce carefully for signs of aging.
If an expiration date is available, I will search until I find the package with the farthest date. Often I will find that some products are days (even a week) older than the rest.
Let us know in the comments if there are any suggestions you would add to this list.