When people toy with the idea of changing up their eating habits and having a healthier diet, they are usually daunted by the task. Let us tell you now that it is in fact extremely easy to have a healthier diet. All you have to do is to make a few different choices during your next trip to the grocery store and you would have achieved your goal. The following are some tips on how to easily make your next grocery shopping trip healthier.
Make a grocery list
It is very helpful to make a shopping list before heading to the grocery store. This way, you know exactly what you need to buy, and you won’t have to walk down every single aisle. This ensures that you do not buy more than you need, and you will also be less tempted to purchase any additional unhealthy snacks.
Of course, you should then make sure that you follow your list, as much as possible. It also helps if you do not shop hungry, because that only increases your tendency to purchase additional unnecessary items.
Look for high-fiber foods
Dietary fiber is an important part of your diet. It can help to lower your bad cholesterol levels, control your blood glucose levels, and also maintain good bowel health. In other words, it is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle. You can obtain your dietary fibers from a wide variety of foods, but some of the richest and most convenient sources of dietary fiber include fruit and vegetables. For instance, having a meal containing carrots, potatoes and peas, or having an apple for a midday snack, ensures that you get your daily requirement for dietary fiber.
Shop the perimeter of the store
This may seem a little silly to you at first, but think about it. Have you ever noticed that the perimeter of the store is where the healthier foods are? Because of that, the perimeter is where the majority of your purchases should come from. Of course, you don’t have to buy 100% of your food from the perimeter. A good ratio is to get 70% of your purchases from the perimeter, and allow yourself about 30% from the center aisles. This is really one of the easiest ways to ensure that you are purchasing healthy foods. Skipping the middle aisles ensures that you won’t be tempted to buy junk foods such as chips and cookies.
Look for short ingredient lists
Before purchasing an item, have a quick look at its ingredient list. If it has a long ingredient list, set it back on the shelf and look for an alternative with a shorter ingredient list. A professor of nutrition at New York University, Marion Nestle, has said that ‘almost always, the shorter the better’. Do note that we are talking about the ‘Ingredient’ list and not the ‘Nutrition Facts’ list. This is because when packaged foods have long ingredient lists, most of the time these ingredients are mostly various kinds of sugars and chemical additives. In simple terms, the more ingredients there are, the more processed the product probably is, and you would be better off avoiding it.
Be as colorful as possible
No, we don’t mean what you’re wearing. Making your cart and your purchases as colorful as possible ensures that you are getting some variety in your diet. The University of North Dakota recommends that you eat fruit and vegetables from all over the color spectrum. This is because different natural colors in foods usually indicate the presence of different vitamins. For example, orange plants contain carotenoids and green plants are good sources of folate. So if you ensure that you get foods of different colors, you will know that you are getting a good range of nutrients and vitamins in your diet.
Take note of serving sizes
Serving sizes can be quite misleading. The labels on the front of food packaging usually represent only one serving and not the entire package. This is a marketing trick to make you think you are getting fewer calories than you really are. For example, a candy bar might say 100 calories on the front, but it may actually contain two servings, which would mean that the bar really contains 200 calories. To avoid getting tricked, make sure that you check the ‘serving size’ line at the back of the package.
Avoid watery foods
When a food product uses water as a major ingredient, you can almost always be sure that the food will contain a long list of additives and chemicals. This is especially so in the case of soups and even salad dressings. Since oil and water don’t mix, the manufacturers have to use a bunch of additives to hold everything together. Also, manufacturers have to add a lot of chemicals to give the water some taste and texture. Because of that, you would be better off choosing an alternative product instead as ingesting too many chemicals and additives is not good for your health.
Avoid meats that are high in fat
Yes, it is always good to have some meat in your diet. This is because meat is a great source of protein, which is important for muscle maintenance and growth. However, not all meats are equal. Some meats are high in saturated fat, and you should try to avoid those kinds of meats. For example, Michigan State University suggested eating goat meat as a lower-fat alternative. This is because goat meat typically contains only half as much fat as beef, and about 40% less saturated fat than chicken. Of course, we are not saying that you cannot eat beef or chicken. You can still do so, but it may be a good idea to choose certain cuts of meat over others. For instance, chicken breast contains less saturated fat than the thigh does.