Loving the BITE: 8 Life-Changing Grocery Shopping Tips

02
Apr
2015

grocery store aisleGrocery shopping ain’t for the weak, that’s for sure. Good thing you’ve been on your bike training.

In every direction, you’ve got thousands of products screaming at you for your attention and your money. According to The Food Marketing Institute, there were literally 43,844 items in an average modern-day grocery store in 2013. Let that number sink in. Then, increase it that number exponentially by all the information most customers look for on each product, regarding price, taste, preparation, or nutrition.

And you thought those last hill intervals were tough?

In nutrition alone, there are many facts to consider. If you let it, it can become down-right overwhelming.

Let’s not let it.

Instead, here are 8 Quick & Easy Grocery Tips to help you weed out the junk, fill your cart with more of the good, and get out of the store quicker.

8 Quick & Easy Grocery Shopping Game-Changers:

Tip #1: As you enter the grocery store, remember that you are not on neutral ground. Put on your game face. The store is designed, from the location of products and aisles to the sales and advertisements to make you spend money whether on healthy or unhealthy foods. Most times, the design increases the sales of unhealthy, junk foods. It’s these processed foods that increase profits for the store most. You must rely on yourself to be informed and make good choices. If you go in on the offensive, you’re much more likely to come out a winner!

Tip #2: Have a plan so you can get in, and get out quick. Your plan should be a list based on the healthy foods and menus you’ve created for the day or week. Why? The more time you spend on it at home, the less time you’ll spend in the store. The more time you spend in the store, and the more items in your eye’s view, the more you’ll buy. This is not a joke, a guess, nor a hypothesis. It’s down to a science. According to Marianne Neifert, author of “What to Eat”, great research is put into figuring out how to make customers see and buy more. There’s a reason why the pharmacy, the milk and meat, and other “staples” are furthest from the entrance. The more you see, the more you buy. And typically, spontaneous, extra choices are not the healthiest choices.

Tip #3: You’ve likely heard this one before, and it bares repeating: Shop the perimeter of the store (mostly). This is where you’ll generally find the least-processed items. Think about it. The milk and cheese, the meat, and the fruits and vegetables. “Un-processed” is somewhat of a loose term, but in this case consider it the foods with ingredients that are either singular, minimal, and at least understandable. Only “dart” into the aisles for well-thought-out foods that are also minimally processed (like dried beans and plain frozen vegetables).

Tip #4: When you do buy a “processed” product, or one that is in a box, bag, or container, do the product-hokey-pokey. You pick the item up, turn it around or upside down, skip the “Nutrition Information,” and go straight to the ingredients list. What? A dietitian who doesn’t l-o-v-e “nutrition information?” Yep. And here’s why: the grams of this or that or calories mean very little if they are made of chemical junk. So, begin with the ingredients. If these seem understandable and pass your radar, then you can consider the grams and calories. What’s more, think of all the “claims” and information on the front of the packaging as little more than marketing. These are usually financially and politically driven than nutrition-based. One significant exception is the Certified Organic symbol, which certifies organic ingredients and practices.

Tip #5: Pick the Plain Janes. When buying processed products, buy the “plain” ones. Plain yogurt. Plain chips (occasionally). Plain cereals. Plain frozen vegetables. There’s a simple and plain reason: the less a food manufacture puts in, the less risk of nasty, chemical, junk ingredients. The more artificially colorful, artificially flavorful, even artificially nutritious, the more trouble/. Don’t believe it? Pick up a carton of plain yogurt and compare it to fluorescent-green Key Lime Pie. Or, within junk foods, compare plain potato chips to barbecue ones. If a manufacturer has to pack in that many dyes, flavors, and weird ingredients to make something taste good, look good, or even increase the fiber, it’s probably not worth it. You can find plenty of real foods that taste great, look great, and are nutritious. This is not to say you have to eat plain yogurt plain. But rather than Blue #40 and high fructose corn syrup, maybe just add a little nuts, fruit, and honey?

Tip #6: Put down the white products. White grains, white sugars, and all the products stuffed full of them. Instead, when buying grains, opt for intact ones like wild rice or oats (which are technically off-white, but you get the idea). Other great carbohydrate choices include beans, lentils, yams, and winter squash. Cereal should not taste like dessert. Sugar-laden treats should be occasional, not an every-meal experience.

Tip #7: Be even pickier about oils and fats. Perhaps the biggest issue with processed foods? According to Evelyn Tribole, author of the Ultimate Omega-3 Diet, soybean oil is one of the main contributors of omega-6 fats in American’s diets. The problem with omega-6 fats is that they compete with omega-3 fats, pushing the body toward more chronic inflammation, which is associated with many chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Where is the soybean oil? Only in almost all processed condiments and foods, especially dressings, margarines, and ready-made meals. When following Tip #2 and reading the ingredients list, search out and destroy soybean, corn, and vegetable oils.

Tip #8: Finish that trip around the perimeter with a long stroll in the produce section. If your budget allows it, buy most non-peeled fruits and vegetables organic. Buy as many different colors as possible, and try new vegetables and fruits regularly. Make your cart look like a rainbow with beets, greens, citrus, berries, red bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and more. Buy more vegetables than fruits to cut down on sugar intake while still loading up on nutrients. And best of all, keep your produce from bruises by placing it on top at the end of your grocery shopping trip.

The grocery store doesn’t have to feel like a defeating chess match, but you do need to be ready to take the offensive. Go in with a plan, buy on your own terms, buy minimally processed real foods, double-check ingredients, load up on a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, and get out. That’s a good start.

Want even more grocery shopping tips? During the month of April I will be unleashing my full Grocery Shopping Tour at www.apexxnutritionllc.com/fuelrightblog/.  I’ll alert Loving the Bite readers as soon as it’s ready and offer a special discount.

Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.

 

Enjoy Your Ride
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