Shopping on an empty stomach often results in impulse buying of unhealthy snack foods. You should also shop earlier in the day when you aren't tired, rather than after a long day at work. If you are exhausted and in a rush to get out of the store, you are likely to make poor food choices.
Make a grocery list before leaving the house and make a commitment to stick to it. Shopping without a list also leads to unhealthy impulse buys, plus you are more apt to forget something that you really need.
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Avoid foods that contain artificial ingredients, excessive additives, ingredients you can't pronounce or more than five total ingredients. Make it a rule that if you can't pronounce what's on the label, then don't eat it. Don't avoid canned foods altogether -- they are convenient at times, but fruit should be packed in juice not syrup, tuna in water not oil and vegetables without added salt.
You should be filling your cart with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, lean meat, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and dairy. Start shopping in the produce section and select a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. The different colors indicate different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrient content. Splurge on unique fruits and vegetables now and again to offer your family a different variety. Remember when buying potatoes to select sweet potatoes over white ones.
Cereal, bread, pasta and rice offer opportunities to add whole grain to your diet. Choose whole wheat bread over white bread, and whole grain cereals whenever possible. With cereal, aim for five grams of fiber per serving with the least sugar possible. Pick brown rice over white rice and whole oats over instant oatmeal. Don't overlook quinoa, barley and other grains as well.
Two servings of fish per week are recommended by the American Heart Association. Look for fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon or mackerel. In addition to fish, purchase skinless chicken, as well as lean cuts of beef and pork.
You'll need three servings a day of dairy foods for vitamin D and bone-building calcium. Choose low-fat or non-fat options when it comes to milk, yogurt and cheese. If it's going to make your family more likely to eat it, pay a little extra for single-serve cheeses and yogurt.
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In general, most of the healthy food in the grocery store is located on the perimeter aisles (fruits, vegetables, dairy, fish and meat) and most of the junk is in the middle. Frozen foods are alright, if you shop smart. Frozen fruits and vegetables are good choices in the wintertime when many fresh varieties aren't available. Frozen whole grain waffles are healthy, quick breakfast foods for kids. Read the labels and shoot for nutrient-rich foods that are low in calories, fat, sugar and preservatives.
By having a list and remembering these healthy eating tips, you can bring home an assortment of healthy foods for your family from the grocery store.