How To Grocery Shop For Health

t1larg.grocery.store.aisleIf you are the regular grocery shopper for your family, you probably have your routine down pat.  You know exactly where to go, what to get, and what aisle everything is in.  I know for me, I can pretty much grocery shop on autopilot and get everything I need in less than 30 minutes.  But when you decide to make a big change in the way you eat, the grocery store suddenly turns into unknown territory.  You’re now hunting the aisle for foreign ingredients and wondering whether lacinato kale and curly kale are all that different from each other.  It can be frustrating to try and navigate your store and have no clue what to buy.  I thought that I would share a few tips from my own grocery shopping routine to help you get in and out quickly and healthfully!

Plan Meals First

I always start my grocery list with a menu.  During the week, I stick to simple meals that stay generally the same, I just change the flavors/seasonings based on what I have on hand.  I save my new or more complicated meals for the weekend when I have more time.  Once I have a menu written out, I can add the ingredients I don’t have in my kitchen to my list.  This way you aren’t left wondering what ingredients that meatloaf dish needs while your standing in the grocery aisle.  Meal planning is also a great way to start eating better.  When you have a plan, you can stick to what you need and steer clear of the impulse buy in the chip aisle.

Use this template to plan and write out your list. Or find another one you like better online!

Use this template to plan and write out your list. Or find another one you like better online!

Change Your Route

Speaking of the chip aisle, wave good-bye.  You probably have a specific route you take through your store and probably include a few less than healthy aisles.  If you want to start eating better, I suggest changing your route.  I personally like to start in the produce aisle.  I fill my cart with all of the fruits and vegetables I will need for the week and then I move on to the other items I need in the store.  I also don’t wander up and down each aisle, I go to the specific ones I need and avoid the temptation of the less than stellar aisles.  For me this includes the aisles for tea/coffee, canned goods for diced tomatoes/tomato paste/tomato sauce, dried goods like rice and beans, and the frozen foods section for fruits and vegetables.  While there are healthy things in the aisles of your store, your best bet is the produce section and the frozen food aisles.  However you choose to eat, make sure you are shopping for those things and try to avoid the food aisles that have nothing you need.

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Consider Multiple Trips

I know this might not be a popular tip for everyone, but consider making more than one trip to your grocery store or going to multiple stores.  I do this for two reasons.  One, I am fairly frugal with my grocery budget and I want to make sure that I am getting the most for my money.  There are some stores that have better deals on food that I buy regularly and it is worth it to me to go to a few different places.  My rotation of stores right now is Jewel, Aldi, and Whole Foods.  Between those three I am able to get good prices on all of my food and eat healthy on a budget.  The second reason I suggest multiple trips is that stores stock their products at different times of the day/week.  I try to get to the store on the days/times that they restock the produce so I can get the best pick.  Also multiple trips tend to save you money because you can buy only what you need instead of overstocking because you only go once.  Again, I know that some of you are too busy for multiple trips during the week, but give it a try and see if it works for you.

Just Ask

If you’re totally changing the way you eat, chances are there are going to be some food items that you are unfamiliar with.  Rather than just wandering around and getting frustrated, ask a worker.  I have found that most of the time they are happy to help and it cuts down on wasted time to just ask someone for help.  Plus if you get a really great employee, they can help you with how to prepare and eat that ingredient.  So don’t be afraid to ask!

Grocery shopping is a vital part of eating well and it is disheartening when you feel lost.  It can feel easier to just give up and go back to your old habits because you know what to do.  Don’t give into the temptation and slip back to your old ways, try these tips and give yourself some time to get used to your new way of eating.  Soon you will be flying through the store with ease and will be on your way to eating a healthy meal!

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Healthy Or Happy

I have noticed that there is a popular sentiment that arises when people talk about being healthier: “I would be healthier, but I would rather be happy.”  They might not necessarily say that exact phrase, but it’s close.  I would eat better, but I don’t want to be miserable.  I would work out more, but I don’t want to hate life.  I would take care of myself, but I have other things going on.  For some reason, there seems to be a disconnect between being healthy and being happy.

This idea pervades the health world all the time.  Diets are associated with denying yourself what you really want to eat, what would make you happy, and eating foods that are boring and tasteless albeit good for you.  Exercise is tied in with punishing yourself for eating poorly or torturing yourself to make your body look good.  In order to be the best you health-wise, you have to deprive yourself of happiness.

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Leaders of the health realm play into this idea, to some extent.  How many times have you heard a new fad diet claim that you can still eat the foods you love and lose weight, somehow implying that food that is good for you is food that you don’t love?  How many new fitness trends focus on the no pain no gain motto?  Or advertise that their workouts are really intense, but if you only devote yourself to twenty minutes of torture you can look like a fitness model?  I know that not every diet or fitness trend out there does this, but I feel that on some level they still make the association that being healthy takes a little bit of being miserable.

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This is so far from the truth, and it is one of the obstacles that stand in the way when people think about being healthier.  No person wants to give up being happy or submit themselves to deprivation and torture to be in a better state of health.  For awhile, I thought that if I wasn’t denying myself some type of happiness when it came to my health, I wasn’t really getting healthier.  If I didn’t feel totally worn out after a workout or say no to an extra helping, I wasn’t doing it right.  Inevitably I would give up on my diet and working out because I didn’t like feeling miserable.  Sound familiar?

I want to help perpetuate the idea that healthy and happy go hand in hand.  Eating well doesn’t have to be a battle of temptation.  You can find food that is delicious AND good for you.  You might have to experiment a little to find out what you like and you might have to let your tastes adjust to less processed food, but you can eat good for you food and still feel the joy of eating good food.  Exercising doesn’t have to be a tool of torture.  There are so many ways to work your body that I am sure you can find something that you enjoy doing.  Again, you will have to try different things and see what you like the best and what your body can handle, but you can find pleasure in working out regularly.  Instead of viewing being healthier as something that is going to take happiness away from your life, view it as a way to add your happiness.  You’re taking steps to add years and energy to your life, you’re taking control of your health, and you’re taking pride in yourself.  These are all healthy things that can make you happy.

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