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How to Shop for Groceries Like a Nutrition Expert

Updated: May 24, 2023

Grocery shopping. You either love it or you hate it.

I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of not overcomplicating nutrition, and my version of the grocery store tour falls right in line with that philosophy. So I wanted to share some tips to keep in mind when hitting the store:

1) Read labels, but…

Yes, you should definitely read labels if you’re unfamiliar with a product. However, if you’re spending a lot of time reading labels, then you’re probably buying the wrong foods. Spending an hour trying to find the healthiest pop tart is, well, a waste of time.

2) Focus on the store perimeter.

You might have heard this one before, and it’s true. Fruits, veggies, meat, dairy — they’re all around the perimeter. You should spend the most time in the produce section and a minimal amount of time in the aisles. There may be a few things you need there, like nut butter or oats, but if you’re heading into an aisle, know what you need, where it is, and take the shortest path to get there. In and out!

3) Make a list.

I buy the same things a lot, but I do usually mix in a few different things…which calls for a list. You’d be surprised how much quicker and more productive your shopping will be with a list. I like to break my list up according to how I walk through the store. This also allows me to see if I’m really buying all the good stuff I need, like fruits, veggies, protein, fat, and carbs.

4) Frozen is fine.

Don’t stress about buying only fresh produce. It may taste better, but frozen is also still good for you — especially if you are more likely to eat it! Canned is fine as well for beans. Just be sure to check the labels to make sure nothing else has been added.

5) Beware of health claims on packaging.

Many can be misleading. If a food company has to tell you that a food is healthy, then it probably isn’t all that good for you. After all, they don’t put a health food sign over the produce section, because we all know that’s good for us, right?

6) Look around to save a little money.

Local and in-season foods will usually be cheaper — and tastier. Companies also pay for product placement at eye-level, where you’ll easily see it. So look lower for cheaper alternatives.

7) If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it.

Simple as that! There are some foods that are probably best kept out of your home. That way, if you really, really want it, then you’ll have to go out to get it.

8) Concentrate on the big picture.

The most important takeaway here is to consider the big picture with your nutrition and not sweat the small stuff.

And by that I mean don’t worry about whether apples or oranges are better for you if you’re eating fast food five times a week. There are bigger things to address there. So, keep it simple, and happy shopping!

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