So you want to eat healthy, well what better place to start than the grocery store. I believe there are 2 things that will really help you; first is educating yourself about foods and how to read food labels, and second is staying away from the junk foods and picking out healthy options for you and your family.
In this blog I go over some of my favourite tips and tricks to rock the grocery store and stay on budget.
Tip # 1 - Just because it says it's lower in fat, doesn't mean that it's the 'healthy' version. A lot of times brands will lower the fat, but increase the sodium (salt) so that the product still tastes as good. So check the label and use your judgment on what to buy or put aside.
Tip # 2 - Trans Fats vs Saturated Fats vs Unsaturated Fats. Now this is a bit tricky to remember, but basically, Trans fats raise your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels ('bad cholesterol') and are the most difficult for you to burn, which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats aren't much better, they are easier to burn than trans fats, but they can still increase your 'bad cholesterol' levels. Unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (e.g. omega-3 fish oil), are the healthiest and easiest for our bodies to burn.
Tip # 3 - When shopping for some healthy green foods, go for the darker greens. In general, the darker the green, the more nutritious the vegetable.
Tip # 4 - It's important to remember that the percentages on the Nutrition Facts label do not indicate the percentage composition of the product. Rather, these percentages represent how much a nutrient in the product contributes to your recommended daily intake (called the "Daily Value"), per serving. The FDA's recommended daily intake is assumed to be 2,000 Calories, which is roughly the average human's.
For example, if the Nutrition Facts table on a can of soup says 37% sodium for a serving size of 1/2 a cup, then eating 1 full cup of soup would give you 74% of your total recommended daily intake of sodium. That leaves only 16% left for the rest of your meals for that day before you start consuming an unhealthy level of sodium.
Tip # 5 - When comparing two products, watch out for differences in units (such as grams and pounds, or cups and milliliters).
Tip # 6 - Many people don't notice this, but the label usually tells you the price of the product per 100 g or 100 ml, depending on the product. See an appealing sale on the small peanut butter jar, but don't know if it would be cheaper to get the large jar instead? In the picture below, the item is $1.662 per 100g, which equals to it's total price tag of $3.79 for 228g.
Tip # 7 - This is a very simple and common tip, but it's sometimes forgotten. The key to buying only what you need is 1) prepare a list before-hand, and 2) don't shop when you're hungry or craving certain unhealthy foods.
So I hope this helps you in your journey to healthy living. If you have any other healthy tips I'd love to hear all about them as there are many tips and tricks out there.
Until next time!
PS read these other great articles that can help you when shopping for food:
Everything Mom - Guiding Stars and Healthy Food Shopping Tips
Zen Habits - 50 Tips for Grocery Shopping