With the holiday season behind us, you would think that it’s now a lot easier to eat healthfully and resist temptation, since there are no more seasonal goodies to lure you into sabotaging your healthy diet. Unfortunately, it’s easier than you think to succumb to junk food, any time of year – all you have to do is step foot into a grocery store!
Grocery shopping can either help your diet or hurt it. If you don’t put any unhealthy foods into your cart, they won’t make their way into your home and you’ll have fewer chances to eat them. If, however, you fall prey to clever marketing and ubiquitous sale prices on junk food, you’ll be more likely to overindulge on the bad stuff, since it will be right under your nose, calling your name every time you are home. The easiest way to avoid overdoing it on unhealthy purchases is to shop the perimeter of the store. I challenge you to look around your grocery store the next time you’re there; you’ll notice that most of the healthiest foods – things like low-fat dairy, lean meats, whole grain breads, fruits, and veggies – are kept in the outside aisles. The middle aisles are mostly filled with junk food, although you will find some healthy choices there, such as nuts, whole grain pastas, beans, and canned and frozen fruits and veggies.
Adding lots of fruits and vegetables to a meal is one of the easiest ways to increase its nutritional value, and the Fruits and Veggies – More Matters initiative offers some great tips on how to do so. Here are a few to get you started:
- Include frozen, canned and dried forms of fruits and vegetables on your list. They are all nutritious and handy for quick-fix meals. (When buying canned fruits, look for those packed in water or 100% fruit juice – not heavy syrup. When it comes to canned veggies, choose low-sodium varieties and rinse the veggies before preparing them.)
- Plan meals around fruits and vegetables that go a LONG WAY. Plan to include fruits and vegetables you can grab as quick snacks or turn into soups and casseroles that you can eat a couple of times during the week.
- Buy in season. Although most fresh fruits and vegetables are available year-round, some are less expensive when they are in season. Also keep in mind that all forms of fruits and vegetables are nutritious, so canned and frozen forms are OK too!
- Buy more. When there are specials on fruits and vegetables, buy extra. They can be frozen, or you can prepare a dish to be frozen for a busy night’s dinner. But don’t buy it if you won’t use it or you’ll just be tossing the money in the garbage.
By shopping smart, you can build a diet full of delicious and nutritious foods. It’s a lot easier to watch what you eat during the week if you make healthy decisions during your weekly trip to the grocery store.