Don’t Go Shopping on an Empty Stomach: 6 Tips for Making Healthy Food Choices

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We have all been in the grocery store when we’re hungry, and after we look at what we bought we promise that we will never do it again. That promise isn’t always as easy to keep as it sounds. The real problem is when you are trying to eat healthy and then go shopping hungry. Staying healthy can be hard enough without hunger to encourage bad grocery store shopping habits. Here are six ways to make healthy food choices at the grocery store.

Make a Shopping List

Knowing exactly what you’re shopping for gives you a sense of purpose and makes it less likely that you’ll linger in aisles you’ve got no business being in (snack aisle, anyone?). It’s a good idea to have a menu planned when you’re making your grocery list so you don’t buy extraneous things. It also keeps you from making unplanned grocery trips to pick up items you forgot, thus giving you another opportunity to buy things you shouldn’t.

Shop Whole

Believe or not, buying foods with no nutrition label can be healthier than buy food with one. These are whole foods that speak for themselves: fruits, vegetables, seafood and meat. No-label food is food that isn’t processed and is always healthiest.

While we’re talking about whole foods, here are two more tips: ask the grocer to point you to the produce grown by local farms. The less food has to travel, the less its nutrients are damaged. Also, try something new each week. Broadening your horizons will give you more foods to choose from, preventing you from feeling stymied by your choice to eat healthy.

Sip While You Shop

Another tip for eating healthy on a budget is to carry a bottle of your favorite home-made smoothie or ice water and sip it while you shop. It’s a lifesaver if you shop at a store where samples are always being offered. It’s easier to say no to the candies and cheeses when you’ve already got something in your hands. Plus, sipping on a kale smoothie or carbonated water keeps your resolutions in the forefront of your mind.

Shop Post-Workout

Nothing fortifies your determination to eat healthy like a good workout. Once you’ve put in all that effort, you’re a lot less likely to tear it all to pieces with a cookie binge! Get your sweat on and then get your shop on! It will make you smug with the knowledge that you’re taking care of yourself and will help you avoid impulse buying. You may also find that you naturally gravitate towards healthy foods when you’re under the influence of that post-workout glow.

Practice Aisle-Avoidance

There are certain aisles in a grocery store that you don’t even need to shop at all. For example, try to spend most of your time in the produce section. Follow it up with a trip down the bread aisle for whole grains, then meat, then dairy, then frozen goods and, lastly, canned vegetables. You can give the soda, snack, juice and candy aisles complete misses. Avoiding these aisle altogether guarantees that you won’t purchase them.

Shop for All Your Body’s Needs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid has undergone some modernizing. It’s now called My Plate and breaks down your body’s nutritional needs into protein, grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy. Make sure you’re ticking off all these boxes when you shop for healthy foods.

Buying lots of green, leafy produce is great but not if you’re forgetting grains, healthy fats, and protein. Varying what you eat from day to day to ensure you’re getting a variety of vitamins and minerals in your diet.

Good eating starts in the grocery store. Follow these tips to help you get the most out of your shopping experience.