5 Grocery Shopping Tricks to Maximize Your Health
1. Make a list
Before you even set foot in the store, create a shopping list. Why? Because something as simple as a carefully crafted list of ingredients, especially if it's for a week's worth of meals, can make a big difference in your budget and your midsection. Don't get sidetracked by those unhealthy foods. Remember to double-check that you don't already have some of the ingredients in your pantry, fridge, or freezer before heading to the store. There's no reason to waste money!
2. Follow the healthy path
Believe it or not, the route you take in a grocery store can influence what you put in your shopping cart. Stick to the perimeter of the store as much as possible, since the outer aisles often contain the healthiest foods, such as fruits, veggies, dairy products, meat, and fish. You'll also find fewer products with confusing health claims in these aisles, since most fresh foods don't have labels. Once your cart is mostly full of foods from these aisles (say around three-quarters full), you can move to the inner aisles.
3. Don't go hungry
You've heard it before and we'll say it again: Don't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. When you head to the store hungry, you're much more likely to load up on junk foods, which can be detrimental not only to your health, but also to your wallet. Suddenly every pie, candy bar, and bag of chips will be calling your name. If you're full, though, you lower the odds of succumbing to temptation. Fortunately, this isn't an eating plan that should leave you feeling hungry, thanks to the balance of nutrients that will maintain your blood-sugar levels all day long. Still, don't take that risk, and eat a meal or snack before heading to the store. It'll up your chances of sticking strictly to your list.
4. Stay seasonal
Stick with seasonal and local products whenever possible, so you'll get produce when it's at its freshest, healthiest, and most flavorful. Nutrients begin to deteriorate as soon as fruits and veggies are harvested, but by eating locally, you minimize the amount of time needed to transport these foods. Keep in mind that frozen fruits and vegetables are packed at the peak of freshness and provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as fresh, so if the fresh produce selection is skimpy, frozen produce (without added salt or sugar) is a good alternative.
5. Start clicking
If you really can't resist tossing that cake, box of cookies, or pint of ice cream into your shopping cart, there's always the Internet. Buying your groceries online is a good way to minimize impulse purchases. Another option is to check your local supermarkets to see if they offer delivery services. Some stores will do your shopping and deliver your groceries, while others will do the shopping and then you stop by to pick up your order. Either way, it keeps you away from temptation.
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