Mindful Grocery Shopping: Making Healthy Choices
Did you make a shopping list of 10 grocery items and end up buying 20 others that weren't even necessary? We don’t blame you. Most supermarkets invest in a lot of smart tactics to extract maximum money from you, which at times could be at the expense of your health. For instance, keeping daily essentials on a faraway rack means that you have to walk through the entire passage of other tempting goodies until you get there. Or keep the ketchup and sauces just beside the nachos and chips to make you buy them both. But if they are smart, you could act smarter by following the shopping guidelines given below to make your grocery shopping healthy.
Tips for Mindful Grocery Shopping
A general thumb rule for healthy food shopping would be to invest in whole, natural, unprocessed foods or buy health supplements such as plant protein powder or fiber supplements. Listed below are more such tips.
- Make & stick to a list: Be sure to make a shopping list before you head out for grocery shopping to avoid unnecessary or impulsive purchases. While making a list is necessary, what is more important is to stick to it and avoid giving in to temptations at the same time.
- Shop on a full tummy: Your chances of indulging in or shopping for unhealthy or processed foods are lessened if you eat well before going grocery shopping. Shopping on an empty stomach can make you crave foods in the grocery store that are highly palatable, eye-pleasing, and aromatic but might also be high in calories and unhealthy.
- Pile up on natural & fresh foods: Choose fresh produce with vibrant natural colors like leafy greens, whole fruits, and other vegetables that are packed with essential vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Antioxidants help in the prevention of various diseases by protecting our healthy cells from damage. Vitamins, along with providing energy, protect you from infections and even help your blood clot to promote faster wound healing. You may also choose to buy fiber supplements to ensure a sufficient intake of your daily fiber.
- Read food labels: Don’t assume that a sugar-free product is low in calories. Check the ingredients. Sometimes, products that are low in carbs or sugar have a lot of fat, and vice versa. A product may claim to have "whole grains", but it may also have refined grains. The front labels on food products can be deceiving; make sure to look at the ingredient list.
- Select whole grains: Some food packages may have labels that read "made from wholegrains", but they may contain only 50 percent or a lesser number of whole grains. Instead, look for products that are made from 100% whole grains. Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals that aid in the digestive process and provide energy. Dietary fiber has many benefits, from lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels to resolving constipation. Investing in fiber supplements is yet another smart choice while shopping in a supermarket or grocery store to ensure your daily fiber intake.
- Skip the trap: There are many ways supermarkets try to entice you to spend, whether it's the free trial of the new cheese spread that makes you buy it eventually, the in-house cafe with tempting flavorful aromas of foods and drinks, or the candies and mini essentials stacked up right beside the billing counter. Be smart and alert, and try not to fall into the trap, as most of these food choices may not have a positive outcome for your health.
- Choose organic: Organic foods are grown without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These substances can have negative effects on your health and the environment. Organic foods are also more nutritious and flavorful than conventional foods. Choose organic foods whenever possible, especially fruits and vegetables that have thin skins or are eaten raw.
- Stock up on proteins: Plant protein supplements could be a good buy when shopping for groceries. Protein is one macronutrient that doesn't really need much restriction and has multiple benefits to offer, ranging from balancing hormones to increasing metabolism, preserving muscle mass and bone, boosting immunity, etc. Most of us, however, fail to maintain sufficient protein intake through our diets, especially vegans and vegetarians. Organic plant proteins such as soybeans, kidney beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, quinoa, and cottonseed can serve as vegan plant proteins for vegetarians and vegans.
- Limit processed foods: Processed foods may be highly palatable and convenient to cook or consume, but they are extremely high in either sugar, fat, sodium, or all three, and even artificial colors and preservatives. These can have a negative effect on your overall health, like diabetes, heart problems, obesity, high blood pressure, and many more. So instead of buying natural, identical, fruit-flavored foods, buy the real ones.
- Pause and reflect: Once you're done with all your shopping, just before you enter the billing queue or the queue itself, do a quick crosscheck. Did you buy all the items on your list? How many extra items did you buy that were not listed? Are they even necessary? Buying as per your needs rather than as per your wants can help you make better and healthier choices.
Is your cart filled with nourishing foods or processed items when you go grocery shopping? You are what you eat, and what you eat will largely depend on what you’ve shopped for. Mindful grocery shopping is a simple way to make healthy choices for yourself and the planet. By following these tips, you can shop mindfully and eat well.
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