Healthy Eating Starts in the Grocery Store

You really want to eat healthy… but you also really like junk food. You’re not alone. Fondness for sugary sweets and salty snacks is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome on the road to healthy eating. This is especially true if you’re not used to eating healthy foods. Learning to like the taste of kale or enjoy bok choy can take time, and your fondness for sugar and salt may never wane. One solution to this problem is eliminating unhealthy foods from your home. The decisions you make at the grocery store directly affect your diet.

You choose what you eat

You have a lot of control over the foods in your home, and therefore a lot of control over the foods that you and your family eat. It’s up to you whether you stuff your pantry with junk food or pack your crisper with produce.

Of course, you don’t always have control over the types of food that are around your family. Your boss might bring in a box of doughnuts for the office, or your child’s classmate could bring in cupcakes on her birthday. However, making the decision to fill your shopping cart with healthy foods lays the foundation for healthy eating.

Those with a sweet tooth may find it difficult to pass on dessert, or maybe you have no self-control when you get a craving for potato chips. Eliminate temptation by bringing only healthy foods into your home. Healthy eating starts in the grocery store.

What is healthy eating?

Everybody’s dietary needs will be slightly different. For example, the amount of food you need depends a number of different factors such as activity level, your personal goals – trying to gain, maintain, or lose weight – your age, your individual needs, etc. Food allergies, sensitivities, or other health conditions also determine what foods you should and shouldn’t eat.

Generally speaking, you want your diet to include fruits, whole grains, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. You want to avoid foods that are highly processed, high in added sugars, and high in saturated and trans fats.

Variety is also important to healthy eating. Turkey breast, spinach, and brown rice are all good for you, but if those are the only foods that you eat, you’re missing out on many other nutrients that your body needs.

It’s not just the types of food or the amount of food that you eat that’s important. Eating habits are also important to healthy eating. Here’s a great resource to help you find a healthy eating style.

Healthy shopping

Enter your local grocery store, and you’ll probably be confronted with a tower of sodas and displays of snacks. Most shoppers — after grabbing a few of these boldly displayed treats — turn right. That’s usually going to lead you to the produce section.

This is where you should be filling your cart. Choose a rainbow of fruits and vegetables for healthy meals and snacks. But research shows that people who shop the produce section first are actually more likely to succumb to temptation in the sweets and snack aisles. Researchers speculate that getting a bag of carrots into the cart makes people feel virtuous, so they figure they deserve those cookies and chips.

Stores also put treats into the produce section, for the same reason. You’ve just added lettuce and oranges to your cart, so the ingredients for banana pudding right by the bananas seem like an indulgence you’ve earned.

Instead of following the pattern the store merchandisers have planned for you, shop the perimeter of the store after you get your fruits and veggies. This will give you a choice of healthy lean proteins, dairy products (watch out for excess sugar, salt, and fat here), and frozen fruits and vegetables.

If you planned meals and made a grocery list before you went shopping, you can head for the whole grains, canned beans, and special condiments without wandering up and down the aisles filled with unhealthy choices. Your shopping will be healthier, and you’ll save time and money, too.

Healthy eating starts in the grocery store, but wellness is an ongoing process. Your primary care physician can help you make the right decisions that promote good health and maintain wellness. Schedule an appointment with a MANA physician today!