If you ask ten people what the hardest part of losing weight is, nine of them will say shopping for food. When you are dieting and trying to slim down, the most daunting place you can go is your local supermarket. There is just so much food and you can’t get in and out without passing by your favorite sweet treat or deli counter. Shopping for groceries when you are trying to lose weight takes a bit of practice, but once you’ve learned the basics, you’ll be able to sail right past those cookie samples without even a glance. Here are a few tips to get you in and out without a hitch.
Shop the Perimeters
A good rule of thumb when shopping your local grocery store is to hug the outer lanes of the store to find the healthiest foods. Typically, grocery stores line the perimeter of the store with the produce cases, the dairy case, and the fresh meats and fish. The inside aisles hold the majority of the prepackaged foods that you want to avoid. This is generally speaking, of course, but give it a try at your grocery store and see if it works that way for you.
Shop for Color
As you push your cart along the outer walls of the store, look for the bright and vibrant-color foods. We have learned in our nutrition classes that foods with rich, bright, or dark colors generally have more nutrients than those with a pale color. For instance, strawberries and eggplants have a higher nutrient-density than potatoes or onions. Even though potatoes and onions are perfectly fine and offer nutrition, to get the most bang out of your dieting buck, go for the bright colors. You can apply this to proteins in many instances, as well. You know a deep red salmon fillet is going to be more nutrient-dense than a salmon fillet that has a light color.
Avoid Sugar by Any Name
You would be surprised at all the places sugar can hide in a grocery store. It is practically around every corner. Since sugar will rob you of your weight loss goals, it is important to turn into a detective in order to avoid it. Just for reference, here is a laundry list of aliases for sugar.
Barley malt syrup
Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
Dehydrated cane juice
Fruit juice concentrate
High-fructose corn syrup
Sorghum or sorghum syrup
Of course, not all sugar is created equal. Raw sugar may be a better choice than refined sugar. However, when it comes to weight loss, your body isn’t going to know the difference. It’s going to want to turn that sugar into fat. Learn your sugars and learn what levels are tolerable for your diet. Be aware also that most processed foods that are labeled low fat have added sugar to adjust the taste. Here again, you need to know what is better for you and know your tolerable limits. Labels are your friend’s get used to reading them.
Whole Grains vs Refined Grains
One of the easiest tips to remember when buying bread, pasta, flour, and any type of baking ingredients is to go for whole grains rather than refined grains. Eating whole grains add much needed fiber and nutrients to your healthy diet. Fiber helps speed digestion and metabolism both. Refined grains have all that goodness cleaned right out of them during the refining process. Eating whole wheat pastas and breads, and baking with whole grain products, will take some getting used to, but you can ease into it by using half refined and half whole grain to get started. It won’t be long before you prefer the firmer texture and nuttier flavor of your favorite muffin recipe made with whole grains.
You don’t have to carry a big list of foods allowed on a special diet along with you to the grocery store. You just have to shop smarter with these simple rules. It’s easier to eat healthy when you have simple tricks to use when you’re in the grocery store. If you fill your cart with foods from the perimeters, brightly colored foods, foods without added sugar, and whole grains, you are well on your way to eating a diet that will help you lose weight now and keep it off for a lifetime.