Better Nutrition Starts With Shopping Smart

Better Nutrition Starts With Shopping Smart

October 12, 2023

Achieving better nutrition starts with a trip to the grocery store. By selecting and purchasing healthier foods, you’ll make it easier to prepare nutritious dishes at home.

You don’t need to go to an expensive health food store to find foods that will strengthen your body and improve your health. You can find everything you need for a balanced diet in any grocery store. To get the most out of your shopping trip, try these tips.

Make a list and stick to it

Impulse purchases at the grocery store tend to be less healthy than planned purchases. Before you go to the store, plan out your meals and create a list of the foods you need. Even if you don’t have your weekly meals planned out, try to have a general idea of what you might cook during the week. What’s important is that you leave junk foods off the list and stick to more nutritious, plant-based whole foods.

When you are at the store, avoid grabbing foods that aren’t on your list. Though bakery cookies might look tempting, stick to fruits and veggies instead. If sugary or fatty foods aren’t in your house, you can't eat them.

Never shop hungry

Hunger can make it hard to make good decisions. If you can, eat before you go so you aren't tempted to load your cart with processed foods. 

You can also avoid hunger by snacking frequently. Keep healthy snacks in your car or at your desk at work. Consider nuts like almonds or cashews, dried fruits or other healthy treats.

Stick to the aisles around the outside of the store

The healthiest foods in the grocery store tend to be along the walls, including produce, meats and dairy. The middle aisles tend to feature cookies, chips, frozen foods and other items that may not be as healthy.

Shop the outside aisles of the store first, loading up your cart with healthy snacks and foods. That way, you’ll have most of the items from your list and you may feel less tempted to buy things impulsively.

Read nutrition labels

Nutrition labels give you information about packaged foods. Ignore marketing claims like “low sugar” or “low fat” on the front of the box and go straight to the nutrition label. By becoming literate with nutrition labels, you can learn to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods.

When looking at a nutrition label, pay attention to:

  • Serving size — Is this the serving you actually eat, or is it much smaller?
  • Added sugar — How many unnecessary grams of sugar have been added?
  • Protein — Does it provide any protein that helps keep you fuller for longer?
  • Fiber — How many of the carbohydrates are from fiber? (Fiber is more complex and nutritious than sugar and other carbohydrates.)
  • Fat — Does it contain any trans fats? (Avoid trans fats, which can raise your cholesterol.)
  • Ingredients — Do you understand all the ingredients, or do they seem like a science lesson gone wrong?

Reading a nutrition label takes practice. Every time you go to the grocery store, read at least one label. Eventually, you’ll learn to read labels quickly and understand the quality of the food you are purchasing.

With the right plan for grocery shopping, you can make healthy choices and achieve better nutrition.