Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store
This is a classic tip, but for good reason! When we make a point to shop primarily on the perimeter of the grocery store, we’re naturally avoiding most packaged and processed foods and will be more inclined to pick up whole foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s very rare that you’ll find your spinach or carrots down an aisle. So as long as you are sticking to this rule, you can feel confident knowing you will likely be filling your cart with lots of nutrient-rich goodness!
Keep in mind, there are some exceptions to this rule since there are some healthy foods that can be found in the centre aisles of a grocery store.
Plan Ahead For What You Need
This is the fun part! I know it doesn’t seem like it since planning out your meals and making a list can be a drag, but I promise you, you’ll be so glad you had your list when you look in the fridge and realize you actually have the ingredients to throw together what you want to make!
It also helps to keep a list of healthy kitchen staples on hand and keep track of what you have and what you don’t. Once you have your kitchen stocked with healthy staples, you will have almost everything you need to make whatever you want from scratch (give or take a few specific ingredients).
The remaining ingredients you’ll need will depend on what you plan on making for the week. Once you’ve done that, all you have to do is make a grocery list and then you’re ready to take on grocery shopping! Woohoooo!
One last thing – part of planning ahead before you go grocery shopping includes making sure your belly is full. When we go grocery shopping in a “hangry” state, we run the risk of making poor choices since we’re more distracted by our hunger than our health goals. Make sure you have a light snack before like a granola bar or a handful of nuts to prevent this from happening!
Buy organic as much as possible
There are SO many amazing reason buy organic food. But for the sake of this article, buying organic food ensures the food you consume is free of harmful pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and toxic chemicals, so it can be as health-building as possible! I understand this can come with financial considerations.
While this makes a great wallet-friendly option for shopping organic, please keep in mind that if you want to reduce your overall toxic load for you and your family, choose organic as often as possible (not just for the Dirty Dozen).
Watch out for health washing
The words “all-natural” are smacked on almost everything these days, primarily because the food industry knows that’s what consumers want. The problem with this label is that it’s not regulated – meaning any company can label their product as all-natural even when it might be the furthest from it! This is healthwashing at its finest. Other labels to give extra scrutiny to include:
- “Fortified” (with Vitamin D, C, etc)
- Made with real fruit
- Source of omega-3s
Of course, some of these labels, like gluten-free for someone who is Celiac, are helpful when navigating the grocery store but the important thing to remember is to not give it too much weight. For example, just because a conventional packaged muffin in the grocery store might be gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy. This is where becoming a pro at label reading comes in handy, which I’ll get to in the next point!
Become a pro at label reading
Nowadays, companies are really good at making not-so-healthy products look healthy. They’re sneaky like that! The key here is to read the labels on packaged foods, or more specifically, the ingredients (or better yet, don’t buy foods with labels – now there’s a thought, haha!).
Ingredients also appear by volume, meaning whichever ingredient appears first in the list is what most of that food is comprised of. If the first ingredient happens to be sugar – run! 😉 Speaking of sugar, here’s another thing you should know! Some companies will partake in the deceptive practice known as ingredient splitting. so that a specific ingredient (like sugar) doesn’t appear first on the ingredient list. Instead, you’ll see things like “glucose”, “fructose” or “beet sugar” sprinkled throughout the ingredient list so that the word “sugar” isn’t at the forefront.