We all go into the grocery store regularly to keep our fridges and pantries stocked to feed our families. We like to think we are buying the best products for our health but are we? Grocery shopping can be a daunting task.
Grocery stores are designed and layed out to get you to buy more than you went in for. Keep that in mind. Know your store and enter with a list to avoid the trickery the stores use to make you put things in your cart you don’t normally buy.
There are some little grocery store tricks you should know to avoid making unhealthy purchases.
At least fifteen years ago I decided to get off of the processed food treadmill and start looking after my health. My first step to this journey was to visit a Natural Nutritionist. The first tip she gave me about grocery store food shopping was to only purchase from the outside aisles of the store. When you think about that pointer it makes sense. The outside aisles offer the fresh foods like fruit and vegetables, fish and meat, eggs and dairy and fresh bakery items. The inside aisles are fully loaded with preservative laced processed foods with shelf lives of several months or years.
Never buy “fortified” foods. The fact that the manufacturer needs to add in vitamins and other nutrients to the package means that the original food has been processed way too much. The food has been refined to the point of lacking nutrients and the manufacturer is trying to convince you otherwise on the packaging.
Read labels. If you don’t recognize ingredients in a product or the ingredient list contains things you would not find in your own kitchen then put it back on the grocery store shelf. Also notice the hidden tricks on labels such as the many different names for MSG or trans fats, hidden sugars etc.
Be aware of serving sizes on packages. Usually the calorie and fat contents listed on nutrition labels are for very small serving sizes so if you don’t stick to the serving size measurements at home then you should be aware of how much sodium, fat, sugars etc. that your preferred serving size would contain. For example: A typical serving size of ice cream on a food label is for 1/2 a cup or 125 ml. How many people do you know sit down with a 1/2 a cup of ice cream? It just doesn’t happen….with most people. So lets say you enjoy a cup and a half of ice cream. Then you must multiply the fat grams etc. by 3 to get the nutritional value of that serving. That’s a ton of saturated fat and sugar. Be mindful of this.
Go local if you can. Look for foods that the labels indicate are from local farmers. You will then be getting the best nutrition from that food as it hasn’t travelled thousands of miles to get the grocery store. The food will be fresher and you will likely be paying less for it as it did not need all of the transportation costs to get to you. Quite often local produce is organic even though it is not labeled as such. Small farmers tend not to get “certified organic” because it is a costly process for them to attain.
Buying fresh fruit and vegetables is the “whole foods, healthy foods” way to go. BUT you must know how to read the stickers on the produce. The numbers on the little stickers have significance. These little stickers are called PLU codes which stands for “product look-up”.
- If there are only 4 numbers on the sticker, this means the fruit was conventionally grown with the use of pesticides.
- If there are 5 numbers on the sticker and the number starts with the number 8 that fruit has been genetically modified also known as GMO.
- If there are 5 numbers on the sticker and the number starts with the number 9 that means that fruit was GROWN ORGANICALLY.
- If the fruit doesn’t have a sticker then it is buyer be aware. Who knows where that fruit came from and how it was produced. ??
Buying frozen veggies and fruit are a good bet. Look for organic and check the labels on the country of origin on frozen foods. AVOID anything imported from CHINA. I personally purchase frozen peas and corn and always buy the brand that was grown in Canada or if I’m in the USA I find organically grown peas and corn grown in the USA.
NEVER go grocery shopping with a hungry stomach….you will impulse buy because your hunger will dictate your choices. It’s so true!
Don’t buy things displayed at eye level. Food brands pay higher slotting fees to get the eye level shelves in most stores and these fees get passed on to the consumer. The more nutritious and often less expensive products are on the upper and lower shelves. Pure grocery store trickery at its finest.
Avoid shopping in stores that are warehouse style as you will definitely buy more than you need.
All of these tips will help you to make smarter and healthier choices. We are what we eat and getting the best bang for our buck in the grocery store is of utmost importance to the health of our families.