By Eryn Carter on September 4, 2019

Navigating the Grocery Store for Health

family buying vegetables

Working your way around the grocery store can be a daunting task. Add in tailoring your list to be health-focused and it may be enough for you to head straight to the frozen aisle for prepared meals. While grocery shopping for healthy choices can be overwhelming, having a little background knowledge and a good plan can save you that pre-shopping dread and help you stay on track with your health goals.

Meal plan before entering the store

Having a plan (and sticking to it) can save you from stressing out in the aisles. This is also a great way to avoid purchasing items you don’t need which may save you money. Prepare a list of meals for the week and compile a master list of ingredients for each meal. Though this may take some time initially, having a plan can help you get in and out of the store without those extra items from the snack aisle that always seem to find a way into your cart.

Shop the parameter of the store first

This is where you want to fill up most of your cart. Most grocery stores are set up to have produce, meats, seafood, dairy and eggs lining the outside of the store. These items are usually in their whole form, meaning they have little to no processing to alter nutritional content. Fill up your cart with your favorite fruits and vegetables for snacks, meal sides and breakfasts. When passing through the meat section, choose lean beef and pork cuts such as loin and round, as well as greater than 90% lean ground beef. Poultry and chicken are great choices that are low in fat and high in protein. Yogurt, cheese and milk products are great to include in your diet for protein, probiotics and vitamins such as vitamin B12, calcium and riboflavin. Pick Greek yogurt for a higher protein punch and low-fat cheese to cut down saturated fat for a heart healthy option.

Be picky in the center aisles

There are many great picks in the center aisles that can also positively impact your health. With so many brands and varieties of the same product though, it can be hard to decipher which items will give you the most nutritional bang for your buck. When shopping bread, pasta and grains, choose 100% whole wheat or multi-grain. These will have a higher fiber content for digestive health and promote healthy cholesterol levels. Canned items can be packed with excess salt. Look for canned products that are labeled “low sodium” to encourage healthy blood pressure levels. Head down the frozen aisle to pick up packaged fruits and vegetables. The nutrition content of frozen produce is comparable to fresh and having these stashed in the freezer means you always have fruits and vegetables on hand. Check the ingredient label to ensure the fruit or vegetable is the only ingredient listed and no sugar or sauces have been added.  

Put these tips into action during your next grocery haul and be on your way to better health.

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  • Eryn Carter

    Eryn Carter

    Eryn is a Kansas raised Registered Dietitian who is passionate about food from farm to table. She believes nutrition begins at the root and values agriculture for aiding the public in having a well-balanced diet.