How to Shop Healthy at the Grocery Store

by Melissa Chichester

We have all run into the grocery store while we are hungry at one point or another.

Usually, it results in picking up our regular menu, and maybe some extras that we’re craving due to hunger, whether it is ice cream, a donut, or some other indulgence. When we’re trying to eat healthier, making the right decisions at the grocery store is an integral part of continuing to eat nutritious meals. So what do we do at the grocery store that helps us reach those goals?

Make a shopping list

Let’s say you’re going on a vacation and it’s time to pack. You might make a list so you don’t forget anything important. The same concept applies to the grocery store. Healthy eating starts with choosing healthy ingredients to make nutrient-rich meals, and making a list ensures that you don’t forget anything. A list will help you to plan ahead and stick to what you need instead of loading your cart with pre-packaged meals or a tempting mountain of ice cream.

Stay away from your weak spot

If your favorite indulgence is instant brownies, it is probably best to stay away from the baking aisle. The same concept goes for any other indulgence that causes you to stray from improving your habits in the kitchen. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a treat every once in a while; it’s all up to you to use your best judgment.

Aim to make some vegetarian meals

Eating more vegetarian meals ensures that you are eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and it can be a more affordable way to shop. Foods like lentils, beans, and tofu are vegetarian options that can be used for a full meal and are still filling.

Visit the freezer

For some people, it isn’t easy to eat fresh, in-season vegetables. This is especially true for people living in northern regions with long winters and limited growing seasons. When this is the case, frozen fruits and vegetables are a great way to always have nutritious foods on hand. And canned varieties also work in a pinch.

Learn how to read labels

Food labels can be confusing, but you can familiarize yourself with them by learning some of the basic lingo. There is a lot more to the label than calories, but that is part of the equation. Some people watch fat, others sodium, and some people count carbohydrates. Whatever your personal method is, it is important to learn where it is on the label. Perhaps the most important spot to check out on the label are the ingredients. If you can’t pronounce the ingredient names and they are very long, chances are the food isn’t very nutritious. Learn more about the nutrition facts label from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Eat a snack first

We’re right back where we started. Don’t go to the store hungry! You’re more likely to buy junk food if you do not eat something before heading in to shop. And if you don’t have a snack, drink a large glass of water.