Oh the Grocery Store- there are SO many options. It can be overwhelming. I mean which brands are the best, which things do we really need, and why does it take so much time when you are trying to make smart choices??
Well this article is going to break it down a little bit for you. We are going to discover the best route to take when grocery shopping, which items to look for and which to avoid and why, and how to quickly understand nutrition labels.
First things first, not all grocery stores are created equal. However most are set up in a similar fashion. It is literally all for a purpose, if you do not believe me just look it up for yourself. Merchandising is a business and companies pay for where they are placed. Here is what I mean:
Grocery stores typically have the meat and produce and dairy going around the perimeter and the packaged stuff in the middle. However staples like meat, and dairy tend to be in the back…. why is that? Because it gives the consumer more exposure to other items first (i.e. when we go to the store for some chicken breasts but end up with a cart full of other stuff too).
Produce– typically near flowers to seem fresher. It typically is fresh however, go for produce in the back of shelf or display because the older stuff typically gets put in front to get purchased quicker.
Baking goods, ingredients, and canned goods are typically in the aisles to again give consumers exposure to more stuff they do not necessarily need.
Another tid bit of info you may not realize is the shelves are also set up a certain way. Eye level is typically by the big brands that can shell out the money to be seen more. Smaller more local brands will typically be at the top, and kid appealing foods at the bottom.
Knowing this though, what is the best route to take when grocery shopping?
- First off come in prepared- have a list- get actual recipes one day a week that you plant to cook prior and get only what you need, stay focused.
- Try to go on the outside aisles only, you will be less tempted this way (just try to avoid the bakery lol)
- Grab things toward the back of produce and meat etc, they tend to be fresher and newer.
- Eat before going to the store.You know they have all those free samples for a reason right? If they get you to eat something…. and you like it…. more money for them because it is going in your cart.
- If you are really dreading the idea of grocery shopping then use a service like instacart to get them delivered, if you always end up spending $10-$20 more just by buying things you see when you are there, then it is worth the delivery
- fee anyway.
What should you avoid/go for?
- Go for Organic when possible
- If anything else avoid the dirty dozen (the worst fruits and veggies to buy due to typical contamination levels from pesticides, antibiotics, etc.
- These guys consist of – Strawberries, Spinach, Apples, Pears, Nectarines, Cherries, Grapes, Celery, Tomatoes, Potatoes (if eating skin), Sweet Bell Peppers, Peaches
- Avoid overly processed foods (have a ton of ingredients you cannot pronounce, more on this in the next section)
- Hit the parameter of the store
What about those nutrition labels- if you have to buy something packaged then how do you know whether it is good for you??
Here are my main tips:
- Opt for things labeled organic or Non GMO to start then look at the actual ingredient list…. NOT THE CALORIES
- What is in the actual ingredients?
- If there are more than 5-7 ingredients and you cannot pronounce some of them, then put that back and opt for another brand.
- Be weary of words like sucrose, dextrose, barley malt, rice syrup and of course high fructose corn syrup.
- These are simply types of added sugars. Alot of people will say to be weary if it is ose at the end however that may not always be the case.
- If it contains any of these artificial sweeteners then try to avoid it –
- sucralose (splenda), aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet and Low) as these have been linked to numerous conditions over the years.
- If it has a color with a number on it….. typically avoid it.
- Pay attention to Added Sugars Listed on the label
- You typically will see sugar then added sugar. You want the sugar content overall to be low, but chances are if there are added sugars it is going to be even higher. **The daily recommendation for women the American Heart Association recommends no more than 25grams a day for women**** (some granola bars and yogurts contain that)
- Look at the Macros (protein/fat/carbs)
- Ideally you want a balanced ratio of all of this stuff.
- Avoid things with Trans Fats
- Look at the SERVING SIZE
- This may go for more before you are consuming the product if you buy it but pay attention here. You may think you are getting 1 serving in a can for example and eat or drink it all….. but in reality there are 4 so you just consumed FOUR of everything listed on that label.
Try these tips out and see if you can’t master the grocery store like a boss. I got a FREE grocery list for ya too to be prepared with the best foods to keep inflammation down and feel better :).