Shop Like Your Personal Trainer is Your Cashier
Prepare for health success with the proper grocery shopping techniques.
In order to eat clean, you need to shop clean. If you don’t stock up on the proper nutritious foods, then it will be impossible to maintain a healthy lean diet.
Before you head to the store, plan out all of your meals for the week. Know what you want to cook each day, including what kind of snacks you want to have available for in between meals. This will help avoid impulse buying and also going to the fridge in the middle of the week, not knowing what to make, or realizing you’re missing some key ingredients and opting to order a pizza or Chinese food.
A general idea is to shop along the perimeter of the grocery store, where all the fresh fruits, veggies, fish and meat are. However, you can find great stuff on the inner aisles, too. You just have to look at the ingredients. That is key – look at the ingredients, not just the calories. Often, even products that look like they are healthy, are actually packed with surprising chemicals and sugars. Possibly, it’s a healthy item that seems high in fat, but it could be heart-healthy fat instead of “bad” fat like trans fats and saturated fats.
Be sure to stay away from the following ingredients and chemicals:
- Monosodium glutamate
- High fructose corn syrup
- Sodium nitrates
- Trans fats
- All hydrogenated oils
- Sodium Benzoate
- Artificial colors
Another tricky thing to watch out for is ensuring you read what the serving size is listed as on the packaging. Sometimes an item will seem healthy, but then you’ll read closely and realize that a serving is only a half or even a third of what you would normally eat in one sitting. Also make sure there are no or minimal added sugars and it is low in sodium. You should aim to keep your sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day. Once you start reading labels, you will realize that you could easily get this much in one meal if you are not careful. So as much as calories still count, the ingredient list is even more important. Look to see if “whole wheat” is the first (or one of the first few) item. If so, you may be off to a good start. Even when buying what seems like obviously healthy items, still remember to read the labels. For instance, dried fruit makes for a great healthy snack, but make sure no extra sugar has been added to them. Similarly, raw nuts are wonderful for you, but make sure you buy the raw kind, and not the ones coated with salt, sugar, or some other candy coating. A general rule is that the shorter the ingredients list, the better, because that usually means there are not a bunch of added chemicals and dyes. Also, avoid products in which sugar is one of the first three ingredients.
Buying organic whenever possible is ideal, since then you won’t be ingesting all of the pesticides and insecticides that are so prevalent in non-organic food. However, I do realize that buying all organic food can get expensive. Therefore, if you are going to do anything completely organic, then I strongly urge to buy organic meat and dairy because of all the harmful hormones that are in non-organic meat and dairy items.
Whenever possible, buy produce when it is actually in season. Here is a sample list to get started:
- Apples: October to February and July to September
- Grapes: June to September
- Kiwi: February to July
- Peaches: May to August
- Bananas: Year-round
- Watermelon: June through September
- Cabbage: May through September
- Collards: October to June
- Potatoes: Year-round
- Broccoli: October to December and August to September
- Carrots: Year-round
Of course, one of the biggest most important things to avoid while grocery shopping is processed foods. These usually have harmful chemicals in them and contribute to weight gain. Instead, shop heavily from the health-food/organic section of your local grocery store.
Other important to consider, especially when planning and executing meals, include never missing a meal – especially breakfast; eat six times per day, every two to three hours; make your last meal of the day some kind of protein and vegetables. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day; eliminate or reduce oil, salt, and butter; and of course, avoid or limit alcohol intake, as this is just another form of sugar with many unnecessary calories.
Now you know the proper way to shop, so get out there and start your clean way of life!