|Grocery Shopping Tips Part 1
|Find your way to healthy choices in the produce, dairy and deli aisles.
Summary for HealthiNation's Grocery Shopping Tips
Hosted by Sheila Kelly, Registered Dietician
Know where to find the healthiest choices in the grocery store:
- Eat Before You Go. Don't go to the grocery store hungry! It will keep you from filling your cart with food you didn't intend to buy.
- Make A Shopping List. It will keep you on track to buy exactly what you need.
- Shop The Store Perimeter. You'll find the healthy, unprocessed foods here. The inside aisles are where you will find most of the packaged and processed "junk" foods.
- Organize Your Coupons. Use the ones for only those foods you actually need.
- Resist The Candy. The check-out line is a danger zone. If the line is long, read a magazine to distract yourself.
The Produce Section
- Color Variety. Try to choose things from at least three different color groups, like red tomatoes, green asparagus, and yellow peppers—the variety of colors will give you a good mix of nutrients.
- Darker Is Better. When it comes to choosing your lettuce, go for dark green lettuce like romaine, spinach, endive or radicchio.
- Pre-Packaged Is Okay. If you're in a hurry, you can also buy things that are pre-packaged, like baby carrots, celery, or bagged lettuce. You can also try some pre-packaged fruits (just make sure the fruit is packed in its own juice with no added sugar).
The Dairy Section
- Lower The Fat. Look for things where the naturally occurring fat has been removed -- like fat-free milk, or low-fat cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream.
- Soy Alternatives. Don't be afraid to try soy products, too--items like vanilla soymilk can be a good dairy substitute. But the fat rule applies here, too—choose soy products that are low in fat or fat-free.
- Coffee Creamers. Choose fat free non-dairy creamer and half-and-half instead of cream.
- Low-Sugar Yogurt. Watch the sugar content in yogurt—light yogurt usually has artificial sweeteners. And look for brands that have active cultures.
- Butter vs. Margarine. Liquid or tub margarine is generally a better option than stick margarine or butter because it's lower in trans and saturated fats. Always look for the reduced-fat or "light" versions, and pay attention to serving sizes.
The Deli Counter
- Watch The Fat & Sodium. When it comes to the deli aisle, go for lower-fat choices like turkey breast and lean roast beef. But always assume deli meat is high in sodium—it's used as a preservative. If you're watching your sodium, or have any doubt about whether a deli meat is lean or not, ask the person behind the deli counter for the nutritional information from the label.
- Fish. It's healthy and low in fat and packed with good nutrients. Just beware of breaded or stuffed items—they usually have a lot of fat.
- Beef. Always choose lean cuts of red meat or pork, which supply iron, zinc and b-vitamins. With beef, look for words like 'round' or 'loin,' and with pork, 'loin' or 'leg.' If you're shopping for ground beef for burgers or meatloaf, also go with lean versions—like 96 percent—Instead of the full-fat options.
- Chicken & Turkey. Skinless boneless chicken and turkey are also great—they're usually inexpensive and versatile in the kitchen. Go with the light or white meat.
- Breads. When you're looking for bread, choose those with unbleached flour and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Some good options are whole wheat, 12-grain or oat-bran bread, rolls or tortillas.
The Frozen Food Section
This is where knowing how to read food labels becomes very important. For the most part, frozen dinners are extremely high in fat, calories and sodium. But there are some smart choices.
- Pizza. Read the label for fat content, calories and serving size. What you think is a single serving may actually be three. And steer clear of pizzas with extra cheese or meat.
- Frozen Vegetables. Plain, frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as the fresh vegetables. Just make sure you're not choosing packages with veggies that have glazed and butter sauces.
- Frozen Fruit. These are also a healthy choice and can be a great time-saver in the kitchen.
- Ice Cream. Choose low-fat or fat-free alternatives instead of the full-fat options. Make sure to watch the portion size—it should be one-half cup. A good way to control the portion size is to buy low-fat frozen bars.
The Prepackaged Food Aisles
- Choose Whole Wheat. The general rule is to go whole wheat. Whole wheat pasta and grains like Bulgur Wheat are rich and filling and have a lot of heart-healthy fiber. You should also try brown rice, instead of white rice. Whole grains, like barley, is a great addition to soups and salads.
- Snacks. A lot of packaged snack foods are loaded with fat, calories and sodium. Instead, try low-fat rice cakes, popcorn, pretzels or low-fat potato chips.
- Cereals. A lot of cereals contain loads of fat and sugar and are high in calories. Look at the labels to select the ones that have at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and are low in fat and sugar. Cereals with whole grains—whether hot or cold—are going to be the best options.
Don't forget to read the labels and the list of ingredients to help guide you in making smart choices.
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