Are you confused about making healthy choices when you walk through the grocery store? It is hard not to be. We are bombarded by food marketing messages from TV, newspapers, magazines and the Internet. Food marketing is incredibly powerful and often misleading. “New and Improved Froot Loops with added fiber” - is that a good breakfast choice? What about Vitamin Water? Is that a good way to make sure you get the needed vitamins in your diet?
If you’d like to make your grocery shopping trips easier and more productive, where’s the best place to begin?
1. Plan ahead. Have a general idea of several breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week. It can help to write them down.
2. Base your shopping list on your meal plan. I write them down together. Usually I plan ideas for at least 3 dinners a week plus general breakfast and lunch ideas. I base my shopping list on that plan.
3. Shop when you’re not in a hurry and not too hungry. It’s harder to avoid those impulse buys when your stomach is growling. And, if you’re in too much of a rush, you’ll get home with needed items missing.
At the store, here are some healthier options to look for in the different departments:
n Produce: Load up on bright, colorful choices. Stock up on your favorites, and also try some new fruits and vegetables that you don’t normally try. Don’t buy too much though. If you waste produce because you purchased more than you’ll really use, you may be inclined to skip buying that food next time. Pre-prepared salads and pre-cut veggies and fruits are more expensive than buying the foods whole and preparing them yourself. However, if you’re willing to pay for convenience, the prepared items can be a good choice.
Bakery/Bread Aisle: Look at the ingredient list for “whole grain” as the first ingredient. Other words that mean whole grain include: brown rice, whole oats, whole wheat and whole rye. Limit or avoid white breads and sweetened bakery products.
Deli/Meats: Deli meats can be a good source of lean protein, but are usually high in sodium. All natural sliced chicken and turkey are better choices than ham, bologna or salami. Choose skinless chicken and turkey and lean pork products. Ground beef with the lowest fat content is the best choice. Look for 93% lean or more.
Canned Goods: Choose canned goods that say “no added salt” or rinse the regular versions before preparing. Keeping canned vegetables and beans on hand can make preparing quick meals much easier.
Pasta/Rice: Choose brown rice and whole grain pasta. Try a new grain like quinoa or couscous.
Cereal: When choosing a breakfast cereal, look for five grams of fiber or more per serving.
Chips: Try baked chips instead of regular.
Dairy: Choose low-fat options. Skim milk or 1% milk are both good choices. Try Greek yogurt for its higher protein content.
Freezer Aisles: Frozen fruits and vegetables are full of nutrition and are good options. They are great to have on hand to add to your favorite meals. Be careful with frozen entrees, as they are usually higher in sodium. However, some of the choices like Lean Cuisine and Kashi brands can be relatively good options, especially with the addition of a side salad.
If you would like to learn more healthy grocery shopping, take a grocery store tour with the registered dietitians of the Blount Memorial Wellness Centers and Weight Management Center. The tours will be at 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 20 at Food City, 1610 W. Broadway Ave., Maryville. For more information or to register, call the Food City pharmacy at 865-380-0110.
Angie Tillman is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and director of the Blount.