Grocery stores, like nearly every consumer-driven establishment, are set up with one primary intention in mind: to get you, the consumer, to buy more.
In most grocery stores, you will find the produce section immediately upon entry. The most outer walls of the building are often dedicated to dairy products, deli, and a grab and go selection. In the middle are the endless aisles of processed foods, some of which are blatantly unhealthy and others which are marketed as “healthy products”.
It is easy to be misguided by brand names, visuals, and tag lines such as “all natural ingredients” and “your daily dose of fiber”. The truth is that the only nutritional truth on the packaging of processed goods is the nutritional label itself. With that said, check out the following multi-step grocery store hack that will keep your weekly food haul clean, clear, and confirming of your health and fitness goals.
STEP 1: MAKE A LIST
Making a list of everything you need in your fridge, freezer, and pantry for the week is a key first step of a successful grocery store haul. Figure out all of the ingredients you will need to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week, in addition to making a list of all of the snacks you plan to enjoy. It is important to foster a healthy mindset when making this list! When you make this one healthy decision in the beginning of the week, you set yourself up for a healthy week of eating.
STEP 2: EAT BEFORE YOU GO
This step may seem a bit odd, but let it be known that your grocery store experience is so easily influenced by how hungry you are when you are in the act of shopping. When you are hungry, everything looks good and healthy decision making is far less likely! Ensure that your eyes are not bigger than your stomach when you go to your local grocers by doing your shopping on a full stomach!
STEP 3: STICK TO THE OUTSIDE
If you stick to the outside of the grocery store, as opposed to winding up and down the aisles of endless chips, crackers, and cereals, you are more likely to select foods that are plant-based, less processed, and overall better for your health. Only go down the aisles that you know you need ingredients from (this should be based on your grocery list)!
STEP 4: THINK LIKE A NUTRITIONIST
When you make your way down the grocery store aisles that offer anything from nutrition bars and oatmeals to soups and sauces, it is so important that you think like a nutritionist. No matter what the product is labeled as on the front, you must refer to the label on the back to learn the truth about the cleanliness of the product. For example, with so many pasta sauces available, they all look the same, more or less. Try and find one with a nutrition label that a) has only ingredients that you know and can pronounce and b) that has no added sugar. Make this your rule of thumb: only select products with ingredients that you know and can pronounce (the shorter the label the batter as well) and avoid added sugar whenever possible!