Healthy Eating: Making Healthy Choices When You Shop
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Healthy eating starts with smart food shopping. Here you will find pointers on how to make the most of your trip to the grocery store. Whether you want to eat healthier or lose weight, these tips will help you get started.
If you have questions about this information, it may help to talk to a dietitian. You may want to print out this information and mark areas or make notes in the margins where you have questions.
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The key to grocery shopping for healthy eating is to plan ahead. This may take some time at first, but after a while it gets easier. You can also save your shopping lists to use again, or you can keep a list of things you buy often, such as milk, bread, or fruit. Planning ahead may even help you save time and money.
Plan your meals
Make a list
Healthy eating is also about setting realistic goals. Allow yourself to add something special to your list, such as a favorite dessert or beverage. As long as you have healthy portions and get regular exercise, it's okay to treat yourself now and then.
Eat a meal or snack before you shop so you aren't hungry at the store. This way you won't be as tempted to buy less healthy foods, such as candy, chips, or fast food, to satisfy your hunger.
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Good menu planning includes knowing how much time you will have to prepare your meals.
You may find that planning your meals and having a variety of foods available will help you make healthier food choices more often. It is easier to choose healthy foods when they are on hand and ready to eat. This is why it helps to include healthy convenience foods on your shopping list. Also, knowing that you have a quick and easy-to-make dinner at home may help you overcome the urge to pick up fast food for dinner.
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Including healthy convenience foods on your shopping list is a good way to make sure that you have healthy, ready-to-eat meals and snacks at home.
At the store
Use the shopping list you created from your menu plan. You may notice that most of the items on the outer aisles of the store are fresh foods, such as meat, produce, and dairy. These items tend to be less processed compared to some of the foods in the center aisles, such as packaged cookies, chips, or soda. As you shop, pay attention to how much you buy from the outer aisles compared to the inner aisles where the processed foods are.
What to buy
When you are selecting items from your list, try to choose foods lower in fat, calories, and/or sodium if possible. For example, when you buy sandwich meat, remember that plain roast turkey or roast beef has much less fat and sodium than processed lunch meat. You can also buy fat-free or low-fat dairy items, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Try to limit drinks with added sugar, such as soda and sweetened iced tea. Instead, try to drink more water or buy sugar-free drinks or drinks with little or no added sugar.
Include some healthy convenience foods on your shopping list for both meals and snacks. These are great to have on hand if you are busy or don't like to cook. You may want to try:
Try to buy just what's on your shopping list as much as possible. Sale items may seem like a good bargain. But if you weren't planning on buying them in the first place, they may not be a good deal.
Portion size is also an important part of healthy eating. Whether you are shopping for yourself or a family, you can buy certain things in bulk. For example, if you buy a large "family pack" of chicken, you can divide it into single-meal portions and freeze them. This is a good way to control how much you eat at each meal and have a quick option available when you don't have time to go to the store.
Keep in mind that if you are shopping for one, not everything is good to buy in bulk quantities. Fresh produce and other perishables in large amounts may not last long enough for one person to eat them all.
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If you are busy or don't like to cook, your only option is to eat out.
Now that you have read this information, you are ready to make smart food shopping a part of your healthy-eating routine.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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