Are your grocery store habits keeping you from getting better health? We are all trying to grocery shop better and the tips out there currently are supposed to help you shop smarter – but are they really better? Here are 3 common grocery shopping “hacks” that actually won’t help you make better choices, and a better nutrition tip to help you shop better, more often.
Choose products with fewer (less than 5) ingredients.
This tip was created to help you make better, not perfect, packaged food choices. The idea is that if there are fewer ingredients, it should be better for you, right? Wrong. An organic frozen dinner with 25 ingredients that are whole foods, includes herbs and spices, balances nutrients etc. can be a better choice whereas there are plenty of 5 even 3 ingredient items that aren’t (hello a certain “energy” drink with artificial colors, artificial sweetener, and caffeine).
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Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.
This tip was created to emphasize the ready-to-eat fruits and vegetable section (a better idea for sure), but then retailers heard this tip and saw where their customers were shopping and started planting chips and/or candy in the produce aisle (Rachel – I’m not kidding, this occurred in my neighborhood grocery store!). Now let’s not make retailers the bad guys, there is even more reason to NOT follow this tip: If you only shop the perimeter you are missing out on a lot of better nutrition choices like organic frozen fruits/veggies (frozen is as fresh as ready-to-eat, lasts longer, and costs less typically), whole grains, spices, oils, and so much more. Every grocery store is also set up differently – so get to know where the better options are in your store.
The Veggie Choice is Always a Better Choice.
Better nutrition better be plant-based because humans (like all animals) need the nutrients that plants provide to build and repair our bodies. BUT not all plant-based products in a store are better nutrition options. Better nutrition needs to provide a balance of nutrients, from better quality ingredients. So make sure your plant choice is a) packed with whole or kitchen-processed plant ingredients b) doesn’t overdo your better amount of one nutrient group serving c) doesn’t pack in the salt, sugar or other preservatives. Some veggie burgers and bars use highly processed plant proteins or pack in 3-4 servings of carbs, now that’s not better!
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Got a grocery shopping tip you are wondering about – is it better or not for your health and your wallet – share it with us here or on Facebook / Instagram @thebetternutritionprogram and we will answer it in our next round-up.