Navigating those aisles at the grocery store is a task we all do on almost a weekly basis, however it can be a common struggle. When do I find the time? And if I find the time, what do I pick? Let’s start with the very basics, some quick tips from Village Nutritionist Brittney Clarizio.
- Never, and I repeat, NEVER go to the store hungry. You make the worst nutritional choices when you are hungry! Not only does everything look delicious, it’s science - if you are low energy or hungry your body is craving carbs and sugar, which is the type of food that is the easiest for your body to break down and retrieve immediate satisfaction and energy.
- Make a list and stick to the same few stores where you know the lay of the land. Knowing where your food is located in the store is a huge time saver and cuts down on impulse grabs when you are wandering through the store looking for what is on your list.
- Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store where food is fresh and nutritious. Fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats are a great place to start and keep the processed foods to a minimum.
- Learn to read labels. When you are choosing more processed foods, or anything in a bag, box, or can it is good to know what to look for on a food label to make the most nutritious choice. Look for the serving size and number of servings in a product, often we are consuming two or three servings of a product without realizing it. The next thing I look at is the actual ingredients. Ingredients are listed in the order in which the product uses the most of - if the first few ingredients include sugar, refined white flours, or chemicals, put it back and keep searching. Look for a few ingredients that are real, whole foods like whole grains, oats, real fruit, and vegetables. If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it!
- Don’t fall for marketing. One huge marketing ploy is “A FAT FREE FOOD!” These words are thrown around on sugary products to make them seem healthier, such as twizzlers or sour patch kids. These foods never contained fats, why would they? They are composed of sugars and syrups! Which also leads me into fats and sugars.
- Choose fats that have health benefits and are higher in unsaturated fats, rather than saturated fats which have been attributed to heart disease and stroke. For example, choose cold pressed olive oil over vegetable oil.
- Practice moderation. Sugar is attributed to an increase in weight, inflammation, and health issues in many people. Whether it be artificial or regular sugar, our bodies becomes addicted to this sweetness. Practice moderation for all types of added sugars (artificial or otherwise) When comparing sugar in products, try to choose a product that is lower in sugar. Many times when fat is taken out of products like dairy and salad dressings, manufacturers replace this fat with sugar. Often, you are better off with a healthy fat than an increase in sugar.
These are just a few tips to making your trips to the grocery store a success for your time and your health. If you need more assistance with choosing healthy foods and navigating those aisles in the best way for you and your family’s needs, a registered dietitian can be a great tool.
Brittney Clarizio is the Registered Dietitian at the Village Health Clubs & Spas. Brittney works with members to design fitness and nutrition programs, and holds monthly classes. She also works individually with people in 1:1 nutrition counseling, grocery store tours for your meal plan and goals, in-home cooking classes, corporate wellness and more.