Healthy eating is such an important part of managing our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It’s also usually a key component of successfully managing health conditions and disabilities.
But there’s lots of confusing information out there when it comes to nutrition and healthy eating. Really though, it’s not hard to make smart choices once you cut through all the noise—and especially all the marketing for food products and fad diets.
Below are some easy-to-follow general tips for healthy grocery shopping for the family. Let them guide your shopping decisions, and you’ll be doing great!
Of course, as a disclaimer, it’s possible that a doctor, nutritionist, or other health professional has given you specific suggestions or instructions for yourself or your child that isn’t in line with something mentioned here. The information here is just generalizations; always go with the personalized advice you’ve received from a healthcare professional.
How to Shop for Groceries the Healthy Way
- Don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll buy more than you need and be extra tempted by junk food.
- Cut out coupons for healthy food—and only for healthy food. The savings will motivate you to buy the good stuff, and not create more temptation to buy what you shouldn’t.
- Plan out a menu for the week and write out a complete shopping list. If you forget important ingredients, it’s easy to ignore your meal plan and go with something quick and easy—and that often means something unhealthy.
- Buy whole foods—foods found in nature, in pretty much the same state that they’re found in nature—for as many of your grocery items as possible.
- Opt for whole grain versions of grain-based foods. For example, choose brown rice instead of white rice, and breads and pastas made from whole wheat.
- Just skip the snack aisles with all the chips and cookies.
- If there’s room in the budget, go with organic foods and drinks when you have the option.
- On each shopping trip, buy a whole food (fruit, veggie, legume, grain, etc.) you’ve never had or made. Check out some recipes online and find a fun way to prepare it.
- Be willing to spend a little more on pre-cut produce if the convenience makes you and your family more likely to actually eat it.
- Pick up plenty of frozen and/or canned fruits, veggies, and legumes. They’re as nutritious as their fresh counterparts, they have a much longer shelf life, and they’re cheaper.
- Choose fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors. Produce gets different colors from different nutrients, so different colors equals a better balanced selection.
- Check serving sizes of packaged foods. If one serving size is too small, you end up consuming more calories, sodium, etc. than you might think. Sometimes, items you believe to be a healthy choice actually aren’t, realistically speaking.
- Don’t buy anything containing trans fat.
- Buy items that are high in unsaturated fat; it’s good for you.
- Select packaged high-carbohydrate foods that are high in fiber but low in sugar.
- Avoid foods made with artificial colors or flavors. Some have been linked to certain diseases, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems in children, and have even been banned in many places around the world.