IntroductionA healthier diet does not begins when food makes it way to our palate from our plate. A healthier diet begins with healthy shopping. This sort of healthy shopping will make the whole process of healthy eating easy. If we buy healthy, we will eat healthy and vice versa. While we go shopping, different food stuffs may lure us, particularly unhealthy junk and processed foods. We need to make smart choices and pick up everything that is healthy. If right ingredients itself are not brought home then we will not be able to prepare a healthy meal. Shopping can be fun, but healthy shopping seems to be daunting because then we are not allowed to pick anything and everything we see. Instead we have to become cautious and go through all the labels carefully so that we can bring nutritious food in our hoe. This can be a daunting work and market seems to be a tricky place.
Here are a few tips for healthy grocery shopping-
Plan in advanceWe have to plan our meals at least one week in advance so that we have enough time to write down all the ingredients we need and have enough time to shop them. We can follow healthy diet plans which will help us to plan our meals in advance. It also saves our time in running back and forth to market for missing ingredients. Never go shopping on an empty stomach cause it will result in unhealthy shopping. Make a list of what all ingredients we need to shop and just stick to it, both quantity and quality wise. Only visit those aisles where healthy foods are kept. Aimless wandering will result in unhealthy shopping.
Shopping of organic foodsBuying organic food is another smart move of healthy shopping. Organic produce is a little expensive but if one can afford it then buying more and more organic food should be the main priority. To save little money, we pay high prices to bring back health and thus it is better to spend a little more money on organic produce to reap maximum health benefits.
Buy non-vegetarian food cautiouslyAnimals are usually injected with chemicals and growth hormones so that they can grow fast. These animals are unhealthy and when consumed, unhealthiness passes on. Wild caught fish, grass-fed animals are difficult to find and thus are very expensive. Always buy lean protein as it will be the healthiest source of protein one can ever consume. Make healthy choices. For example, purchase pork instead of chicken breast because not only it is low in fat but also a healthy option. Fish and seafood shopping is again very healthy. Eggs can be consumed in any meal. They can be poached, scrambled or boiled. Can be eaten over a salad or along with some roasted or stir-fried vegetables. It is a great solution for fulfilling daily protein requirements of the body.
Read labels carefullyIf labels read "healthy", "all natural", does not mean that the product is 100% natural. Natural or real foods should be preferred and should be given priority while shopping as they are very close to their natural state and are hardly processed. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats all are real foods whereas grains, pulses, sugar, sweeteners need to be processed. Do not purchase packed food which has a long list of ingredients on the label cause most of them include preservatives, chemical additives etc which does not do any good to health. Buy simple real foodstuffs cause nutrition is more important than ingredients.
"No cholesterol" claimsCholesterol usually is present in products derived from animals like milk, butter, clarified butter, eggs, sea food, meat etc. While we go shopping, we can notice that even products which are derived from plants contain labels which read "no cholesterol" or "zero cholesterol". It is obvious that we all care for our health and we all know how bad raised cholesterol levels can be for our heart and overall health. Food companies deceive us and post labels even on those products which are no way meant to carry any cholesterol. This is done to attract us so that we can think that product is healthy. We will find such labels on oils, cereals, breads, biscuits, chips, cookies etc. Oil as we all know is complete fat and when we read the label, we assure ourselves that it is good for our health as it does not contain cholesterol, without even giving a thought that plant products anyway do not carry any cholesterol.
Bring variety in grocery shoppingTo spice up life, we need to bring variety instead of eating same food stuffs again and again. When we try something new, we get to experience new different tastes and our body gets to absorb different nutrient elements present in them. If potato is favorite vegetable then one can replace it with sweet potato because sweet potato will not only bring a change in daily eating plan but also has much more to offer than potato. It is a healthier option and rich source of beta-carotene. Also instead of eating plain yogurt daily, one can purchase flavored yogurt.
Be cautiousLabels on the products make us feel that we will be consuming very few calories. But this is not always true. Nutrients or calories are per serving and thus we should carefully look at the serving size. If the product we buy is supposed to serve four and calories mentioned are per serving then our slight miscalculation will lead us to consume four times our required calories and this can be easily done in case of products like cookies, nuts, chocolates, ice-creams etc cause even small portions contain dense amount of calories. Always carry a calculator while going shopping to estimate total amount of nutrients and calories present in various food stuffs. Calculator will help us to choose best products from whole bunch. Products which claim as lightly sweetened or less fat too will show same or sometimes more amount of calories than others which will come out as a surprise to us.
Smart healthy shoppingAs we see wheat bread, we feel it is healthy and get deceived. We need to eat bread made from whole wheat or whole grains and not just wheat. Ignore all the claims made by various products and choose wisely. First ingredient we need to look for is whole grain. Next important thing to look for is that there must not be any added sugar. Nutrients and calories present in the product per serving is again an important aspect to look out for. Fiber present is also very essential and it will be best if chemicals and preservatives are in minimal amount. Do not buy product in which water is at the top of the list because then it will have a lengthy list of additives.
Whole grains and dairyWhole grains are high in fiber and prefer to shop them instead of just filling up cart with rice. Brown rice, bulgur, barley, quinoa are all healthy choices. Choose breads, noodles and pastas made from whole grains. Buy regular oatmeal instead of instant oat meal. Dairy foods are rich sources of calcium and vitamin D. Always shop low fat milk and dairy products instead of high fat products. Buy toned or double toned milk. Low fat cheese is again good for health, but if high fat cheese is preferred then limit the portion.
Frozen FoodstuffsFrozen foods help us to use all those seasonal products which are otherwise unavailable in market. Check labels properly before purchasing them and use them as and when required. Canned foods sometimes are over looked but right brands can be as nutritious as fresh and frozen. Canned foods are particularly helpful when we run out of fresh or frozen foods and then end up binging outside, packing in all those extra calories which could otherwise be avoided very easily.
Do a conclusive checkBefore pulling into checkout line, check whether cart is filled 50% with fruits and vegetables, 25% with proteins and 25% with whole grains. If something unhealthy is sitting there then remove it, before it makes its way on our plate and palate. Take care of including healthy fats in cart like unsalted nuts, healthy oils, seeds etc.
ConclusionWe are as healthy as our grocery cart will be. If we make smart decisions then grocery shopping is not at all tough. It requires right knowledge and practice to get it right. It is an art form. If we want to become healthy, we have to eat healthy. If we have to eat healthy then we need to shop for healthy food stuffs keeping in mind all the likes and dislikes of family members. Food shopping should be a pleasurable experience cause we get to learn so much about nutrition and we explore whole range of different food stuffs present. All we have to do is that we need to make healthy choices and include foods from all food groups.
You have provided an informative article on a very important subject. Most people do not know the basics of shopping healthy, and this piece will definitely help them.
I eat healthily, so shop healthy, and can relate to most of the things you've mentioned. Eating and shopping for healthy food stuff requires some amount of discipline. If we can conquer our food urges, we can definitely turn into healthy eaters.
There are a few points that I want to comment on –
1. Farm bred animals are also given heavy doses of antibiotics, to avoid an epidemic of disease. The antibiotics are passed onto meat eaters and over a period of time, they become resistant to these antibiotics. Hence, when they fall ill and are put on antibiotics, the same do not work on them because of the immunity they develop.
2. In India, we do not have that many fish breeding farms, and most of the fish is caught from rivers, seas and other natural occurring water bodies.
3. The concept of free-range farming is only just catching up. Most of the produce is from farm bred animals.
4. Pork being low in fat is definitely news to me. Pork, as I understand is one of the fattiest meats. Look at all the cold cuts – they are loaded with fat. Even a vindaloo is all about pork fat. If you compare pork with chicken breast, I think the latter will come out the winner. Only lean cuts of pork are healthy and compare better than chicken in their health quotient.
5. Pork meat should always be from farm bred animals. This avoids the risk of tapeworm infestation.
6. Of all the meats, fatty fish are the best. They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that lower HDL and increase levels of LDL.
A educative article by Ms.Reena. To stay healthy, eat healthy. To eat healthy, shop healthy. A good narration. All important points are given.
Doctors say that our plate of meal should be colourful. How to make it colourful is the question. Your plate should not be full with rice or chapathis. It should have variety of foods. Colorful fruits, green vegetables should occupy sufficient space in the plant. These too should take a major space in the plate. Then comes the other items. Then only it will be a healthy food.
In fact shopping itself, a great art and some women are very active in this. How to do healthy grocery shopping is something every woman should know. Nowadays we are having big supermarket chains across the country and every city has one or two branches. These supermarkets on daily basis announce offers on items which are about to expire and not selling that fast. Sometimes there may be a heavy discount or even one plus one offer. I have invariably seen that in food items these offers are more and especially the cool drinks have such offers. Some supermarkets are distributing handbill information through newspapers about their offers. The households must have a tab on such offers to grab a good one. The other day there was a heavy discount on Atta of a particular brand and within few minutes the entire stock was sold at the supermarket with a heavy discount. But we should be careful to shop those items which have expiry date very near and that should be purchased and completed within stipulated time.
One important aspect of healthy shopping is to pick more products. Shopping cart should be filled with more amount and varieties of fruits and vegetables instead of other stuff. We need at least five servings of fruits and vegetables in a day and they should be included in each meal. Thus, fresh products should never be overlooked. Our plate should be half filled with these fruits and vegetables and thus they fall under main group of healthy shopping. Half of our grocery cart should be filled with them.
Pick variety of fruits and vegetables to derive maximum nutrient absorption. Leafy green vegetables can be consumed in the beginning of the week because they decay quickly and other vegetables can be preserved for the rest of the week. Frozen fruits and vegetables are also good provided they are not bulked up with preservatives. Purchase fruit sorbets and fruit bars instead of ice-creams which will satisfy sugar cravings as well as contain less sugar.