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Becoming a Supermarket Sleuth – Tips & Tricks For Shopping Healthy

Do you dread grocery shopping?  It’s so time-consuming, and can be difficult when it comes to making the right choices for your blood sugar. Never fear, if you are in search of the shopping solution – check out these tips to become a supermarket sleuth!

The first rule of stress-free, smart shopping is to make a list. Ponder a few recipes you want to prepare in the upcoming days, then check your refrigerator and pantry to see which ingredients you have, then make a list of the remaining ingredients you need. Not only will this help to reduce food waste, but will help you save money on your grocery budget!

Now when you arrive at the store – stick to your list. By purchasing only the items on your list, you are holding yourself accountable to the foods you chose before you were faced with temptations of high-carb, sugary treats. Resist… and stick to the list! (Shopping on a full stomach helps, too.)

Begin your trek by shopping the perimeter of the store first. This will make you more likely to fill your cart with whole, nutritious foods. By eliminating the distractions of one aisle shelf after another, sticking to the main areas of produce, seafood, meat, and dairy will primarily fill your cart with the healthiest options.

For the most part, the interior aisles hold pre-packaged processed foods. The majority of them hold little if any nutritional value. By eliminating processed foods from your diet, you are making an incredible impact on your health! So skip the aisles, and instead, stock up on the good stuff – fresh, whole foods.

If a favorite ingredient is not available fresh, check the freezer section. Many fruits, vegetables and seafood are available frozen (just be sure to check labels for added sugar or salt!) While fresh, whole foods should make up the majority of your diet, don’t turn up your nose at frozen foods. We’re not talking TV dinners or frozen pizza here. Frozen veggies like green beans, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli bring meals together in a flash!

You can even find healthy frozen side dishes like cauliflower rice and use it to make some seriously delicious low-carb fried rice. Frozen berries are perfect for smoothies – combine frozen berries, Greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey, and blend for a delicious smoothie. There are high quality foods in the freezer section just waiting to save you time!

What’s the story with organic foods? Buying everything organic is not a must, but if the whole point of healthy eating is to only put good into your body, it doesn’t make sense to consume pesticide-covered fruits and veggies. If you are eating the food in its entirety (tomatoes, apples, berries) it is best to spring the extra couple of dollars for organic. If you are only eating the inside (orange, banana, avocado) organic is preferred by not necessary.

Most grocery store chains have organic cuts of meat readily available, as well. They are usually located in the same section as the non-organic meats, but will likely have different colored packaging. When shopping for beef, look for the words “grass-fed.” For poultry (and eggs), look for “free-range.” The packing should also designate that the meat was raised without hormones and antibiotics.

Seafood will not be labeled as organic. When purchasing fish, it is important to look for the words “wild-caught.” This designates that the fish was caught in its own habitat, and not harvested from a farm somewhere.

Stay far away from any product labeled ‘low-fat.’ Did you know that when there is less fat in a product, there is usually more sugar? Fat tastes good, so when processors remove the fat from a product, they replace it with sugar. Fat is not the enemy of health – sugar is the true villain. You’re most likely to fall into this trap in the dairy section.

For example, full-fat yogurt contains approximately 11 grams of carbohydrates/sugar per serving. Low-fat yogurt contains upwards of 17 grams of carbohydrates/sugar. That’s a 50% increase in sugar content!

In full-fat dairy, there will always be naturally-occurring sugar in the form of lactose. However, it doesn’t include the added sugar in the low fat, no fat varieties. Not only is it better for your blood sugar, but the additional fat and protein in full-fat Greek yogurt will keep your tummy feeling fuller longer.

Spending your time wisely in the supermarket can make preparing recipes at home faster and easier – there are shortcut ingredients out there just waiting to save you some prep time! Save some serious time on salads by using greens that are pre-washed and ready to eat. From spicy arugula to good ole’ iceberg or romaine, you can find a wide variety of salad greens in the produce section.

Whole grains like quinoa can take up to 45 minutes to cook on the stovetop, but can now be ready in 90 seconds in the microwave. These microwaveable packages can usually be found near the rice. Talk about a quick and easy way to add nutrition to your meals!  One cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber. Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate, which the body processes more slowly than regular carbs. This combination not only fills you up, it helps stabilize your blood sugar, too.

So, the next time you head for the supermarket, arm yourself with a list, stick to it, buy fresh whole foods (organic when possible) and try out some smart, time-saving ingredients. There is no reason to fear – using these tips, healthy and stress-free grocery shopping is simply elementary, dear Watson!






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