Getting in and out of the grocery store can be a real hastle, whetherr you are running in for just one thing, or stocking up to feed the family for a week. Here are some tips and guidelines to consider next time you get ready to make the trip.
WHAT TO BUY?
Spend the most time in the produce section, the first area you encounter in most grocery stores (and usually the largest). Choose a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables. The colors reflect the different vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient content of each fruit or vegetable.
Meat, Fish, and Poultry.
The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish a week. Salmon is a great choice, it's widely available, affordable, not too fishy, and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Be sure to choose lean cuts of meat (like round, top sirloin, and tenderloin), opt for skinless poultry, and watch your portion sizes.
Breads, Cereals, and Pasta.
Choose the least processed foods that are made from whole grains. For example, regular oatmeal is preferable to instant oatmeal. But even instant oatmeal is a whole grain, and a good choice.
When choosing whole-grain cereals, aim for at least 4 grams of fiber per serving, and the less sugar, the better. Keep in mind that 1 level teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams and let this guide your selections. Cereal and grains -- those with added sugar -- make great vehicles for milk, yogurt, and/or fruit. Avoid granolas, even the low-fat variety; they tend to have more fat and sugar than other cereals.
Bread, pasta, rice, and grains offer more opportunities to work whole grains into your diet. Choose whole-wheat bread and pastas, brown rice, grain mixes, quinoa, bulgur, and barley. To help your family get used to whole grains, you can start out with whole-wheat blends and slowly transition to 100% whole-wheat pasta and breads.
Dairy foods are an excellent source of bone-building calcium and vitamin D. There are plenty of low-fat and nonfat options to help you get three servings a day, including drinkable and single-serve tube yogurts, and pre-portioned cheeses. If you enjoy higher-fat cheeses, no problem -- just keep your portions small.
Frozen fruits and vegetables (without sauce) are a convenient way to help fill in the produce gap, especially in winter. Try adding frozen veggies to bulk up microwave meals, sauces, stirfrys and soups.
Canned and Dried Foods. Keep a variety of canned vegetables, fruits, and beans on hand to toss into soups, salads, pasta, or rice dishes. Whenever possible, choose vegetables without added salt, and fruit packed in juice. Tuna packed in water, low-fat soups, nut butters, olive and canola oils, and assorted vinegars should be in every healthy pantry.
HOW TO PLAN AND MAKE A LIST
1. How many people are you shopping for this week?
Without knowing this piece of information it’s very easy to “overpurchase” and therefore overeat during the week. For example, if it’s just you this week and your significant other is out of town, you can likely cut your grocery items in half. If you typically grab 6 apples, then 3 will do for this week. If you normally buy 2 bags of spinach, buy just one this week and so on…
2. What is your planned activity/exercise level this week?
The recommended amount of exercise is 5 hours/week. If your exercise includes the suggested variety of high intensity, weights and steady state exercise then you’ll want to consider your nutrient timing rule: post workout carbohydrate intake. Be sure to select whole grain, natural carb selections (eg. quinoa, whole grain pasta, Ezekiel wraps, long grain wild rice etc.).
If you’re not exercising much that week — maybe it’s a “recovery week” — you won’t need nearly as many carbohydrate rich foods.
3. What is your work environment this week?
There is a significant difference between a sedentary career and laborious or active career when it comes to calorie expenditure.For example, a physical education teacher will be expending energy all day long compared to a senior analyst who will only leave their desk chair for meetings in another desk chair. These two careers will lead to a different nutritional regimen.
If your work-based activity is sedentary to moderate, keep the carbohydrate and natural sugar intake to a minimum and select a variety of vegetable, healthy fat and protein sources.
If you’re moving around, and on your feet all day, include a few carbohydrate and natural sugar options such as fruits, wraps, and whole grain bread.
4. Will you be entertaining or dining out this week?
This is an important question to answer and plan ahead. If you’re eating out with friends, that is an entire meal you don’t need to have in your fridge. If those extra foods are there it’s quite likely that you’ll be tempted to indulge. Rather than relying on willpower, just don’t have that temptation there. Purchase less food when you grocery shop that week.
On the other hand, if you are hosting a dinner party or gathering at your place this week, be sure to have the ingredients you’ll need on your list so you don’t have to revisit the grocery store later that week. Plan ahead, make one trip per week to the grocery store, and avoid the temptation to pick up “extras”.
1. Shop with a list.
2. Shop mostly along the perimeter, where the produce, dairy, and meat aisles are. Avoid the inner aisles such as the frozen or processed food aisles. Stay away from the junk food aisle!
3. If you must enter an inner aisle, enter and exit at the same end. There is rarely a reason to wander the entire aisle. Get in, get what you need and gracefully exit.
4. Be aware that grocers stock sale items at the end of the aisles. Sometimes these are good — e.g. cans of tuna — but mostly they’re not.
5. Never fill your cart, unless you’re feeding a big family or stocking up on pumpkins and giant fluffy bunches of kale. (See above about buying for your actual household needs.)
Complete your entire grocery outing in 45 mins or less. Don’t linger.
Allowing yourself to feel hunger pains is a sure way to eating unwanted foods. Rather, eat small frequent meals every 2-3 hrs and you’ll be sure to make healthy nutritional choices.
Avoid situations that you know are going to be unhealthy. For example, if you are getting together with friends pick a restaurant that offers delicious, nutritionally appropriate meals. Avoid the wings and beer places!
Always be prepared. Never leave home without a little stash of mixed nuts, chopped veggies, and snap peas in your bag or car. Should you end up in a situation where you are hungry and the food choices around you are minimal or unhealthy, you are prepared with the foods you have brought with you.
A protein bar or nutritious smoothie will also help you avoid any undesirable nutritional situations such as this.
Season your meals with things like spices, fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon, etc. Then take the time to taste the delicious variety of flavors. In other words, become aware of what is in your mouth. Tune in to your taste buds! Eating healthy doesn’t mean having to eat bland, tasteless food. It’s quite the opposite, actually.
Stop and take a sip of your water in between bites. This will help to make you feel full and potentially answer the question: are you still hungry or are you thirsty?
And last, eat slowly. So what if it takes you 15-20 mins to eat? Is that a crime? What is the rush after all? Give yourself that time. Allow yourself to really enjoy the meal that you’ve created. There is no reason to rush through your meals.
If you find yourself finishing off your plate in less than 5 minutes, ask yourself: Did I enjoy that meal? The answer will be no, because you hardly tasted it. Let all the senses in your body indulge in the experience we call dining.
Sources: WebMD.com, Precision Nutrition, Livestrong.com
So, what's on your list???