It can be overwhelming going through the grocery store, looking for healthy eating options, thinking of what to add to your basket especially with confusing claims made on food packaging and trying to decipher whether the item is really healthy or not. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you know what to look for.
The first thing you should do is plan your meals ahead of time. Try to pick a day that works with your schedule to sit down and jot down the meals you want for the week, including snacks. Next, based upon your meal plan make a shopping list that way you’re not tempted to add in extras that you don’t need.
When looking at products, always read the labels. When looking at grain product look for the word “whole” as the first ingredient to make sure it is a whole grain. Look at the types of fats in packaged food, saturated and trans fats should be kept to a minimum, focus on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. When considering trans fats, one way to make sure that a product is trans-fat free is to look for the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” before oils on the ingredient list. If it has anything that says hydrogenated you should skip it. Another thing to look out for is sugar content. Since the label does not distinguish between added sugar and natural sugar found in foods, look for the word “syrup” that can be hidden in the ingredient list. Another consideration to make is whether the food is a good source of vitamins and minerals look for items that contain 10 or more percent of the daily recommended values.
So what are some healthy staples to have in your refrigerator and pantry? It really depends on your cooking style, but here are some general things a healthy kitchen should be stocked with.
Whole-wheat pastas, breads and other whole grains such as, barley, brown rice, whole-wheat cous cous, oats, and wheatberry.
Canned goods such as low sodium bean varieties, and low sodium canned vegetables. You can include canned fruit but avoid the kind canned with syrup.
- Frozen goods: whole-wheat waffles, a variety of frozen fruit, frozen broccoli, cauliflower and mixed vegetables.
- Low fat dairy: yogurt, string cheese, shredded cheese, and cottage cheese.
- Nuts: unsalted nuts, almonds, walnuts, and pecans. Keep these along with dried fruit like raisins, cranberries and prunes. You can make your own trail mix with this!
- Greens: mixed salad greens, spinach, romaine lettuces are all good for quick salads.
- Fresh Vegetables and Fruits: Bananas, apples, seasonal berries, and oranges. Tomatoes, avocados, cauliflower, carrots, and onions.
Lastly, to avoid falling into the trap of not having enough time to prep things when cooking, try washing and cutting vegetables right after getting home from the grocery store. Simply store them in airtight containers and they’ll be easy to get to when you are cooking. Follow some of these simple tips and you can’t go wrong in picking healthy eating options for a healthy lifestyle and weight loss.