By Stacy Gilliam
Now that you have an idea of what "healthy eating" means, it's time to head to the supermarket or your local grocery store. It's a challenge, too, especially when the typical store contains aisles and aisles of unhealthy options. You may be tempted to grab a meal-in-a-box, something you just add water to and simmer on medium heat. It's quick, cheap and doesn’t take much effort. But, that same meal is more than likely high in all the things your taste buds want but your body doesn’t need – sodium, calories and saturated fat. Here's how you make make the supermarket work for you. Try these health-wise shopping tips:
- Plan ahead. If possible, map out your meals for the week, and jot down a list of items you will need for cooking. (Hopefully, you’ll try one our weekly recipes from our growing recipe database!) By planning for your trip to the store, you’ve got a guide to keep you on course.
- Shop on the outside, first. Generally, all your nutrition-filled foods are located on the outside perimeter of the grocery store. There, you’ll find vegetables, fruit, seafood, lean meats, chicken, milk, eggs and bread – all the food groups inside the U.S. Food Guide Pyramid. Start shopping the outside aisles, and you’ll be less likely to buy the junk food located down the center aisles.
- Shop smart on the inside. When you’re done cruising the outside, healthier items, you’ll find that the middle aisles do have a few choice items that you'll want to add to the cart such as oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, olive oil and even low-calorie snacks. Check the nutritional value on the back before you place it in the cart. For instance, check out the amount of sugar in your favorite cereals. Look for excessive amounts of sodium in canned soup.
- Go for the real stuff. Steer clear of processed foods, and opt for items that read “100% whole wheat” or “100% juice,” for example. Salt and sugar can always be added at home. Avoid foods with artificial ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
- Finding fast food. Frozen and canned foods exist for your convenience. When possible, grab canned veggies without added salt. Choose tuna packed in water, low-fat, low-sodium soups and whole-grain frozen waffles over the regular brand.
- Shop on a mission. Your goal is to provide healthy meals for yourself and your loved ones. Keep that in mind as you go from aisle to aisle.