5 Tips for Surviving Your Next Trip to the Grocery Store

Have you ever gone to the grocery store with a mental map of what you need, only to find that your carefully curated list has vanished from your brain the second you walk through the door? Or you have a written list, but when you get home you realize you’ve filled your shopping bags with junk food and “treats” you never intended to purchase? What causes these sudden and inexplicable lapses in memory and willpower?

I personally believe we are so bombarded by the overwhelming number of options in our stores that we have forgotten how to feed ourselves. Don’t fall victim to trendy items and marketing gimmicks! Follow these five tips and get in and out of the grocery store before the junk food hits your cart.

1. Shop the perimeter. Just think about it — nothing good happens inside those cluttered aisles! All of the fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat and fish are typically located along the perimeter of the store. Stay out of those other aisles and you will ensure that you leave with a basket full of whole foods and limit the “frankenfood” you take home to your family.

2. Taste the rainbow. While shopping for produce, make sure you grab a wide array of red, yellow/orange, green, purple/blue, and white fruits and vegetables.

Red fruits and veggies contain lycopene, which has cancer-fighting properties. Think red apples, cranberries, red cabbage and red peppers.

Orange and yellow produce is colored by carotenoids, which boost the immune system. Stock up on cantaloupe, pineapple, yellow/orange peppers and sweet potatoes.

Green fruits and vegetables contain chlorophyll (great for the skin) and folate (which helps prevent birth defects). Buy spinach, cucumbers, dark lettuces and kiwi.

Purple and blue produce contains powerful antioxidants that may reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. Toss some blueberries, purple grapes, plums and eggplant into that cart.

Finally, white fruits and veggies like bananas and cauliflower may lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce the risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. Bananas and potatoes are also good sources of potassium.

3. Read the label. Those “snack-sized” bags of pretzels, nuts and dried fruit can contain up to 2.5 servings per bag. What you think is a smart, low-calorie snack may have as many as 300 to 400 calories, not to mention an excessive amount of sodium, sugar and additives.

4. Skip the sugar. Manufacturers try to cleverly disguise sugar with fancy names such as “fructose,” “sucrose,” “glucose,” “dextrose,” “lactose,” “corn syrup,” “molasses” and “honey,” to name a few. Pay particular attention if you are buying cereals, pasta sauces, macaroni and cheese, yogurts, baked beans, and peanut butter, as these popular grocery items are loaded with sugar. Busted!

5. Don’t be seduced by a sale. If you don’t normally buy an item, don’t start now just because it’s on sale. Spending any money on something you wouldn’t normally buy is still a waste!

Highway 2 WellTara Roscioli is a student of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and the owner of Highway 2 Well, a holistic health and wellness practice dedicated to helping professional women and busy moms live fit, healthy and happy lives. Tara is also a Pilates instructor at Core Mind & Body in Maplewood, New Jersey, where she provides group and private instruction. She works with individuals recovering from injuries as well as with pre- and post-natal mothers and breast cancer survivors. Please contact Tara at tara.roscioli@highway2well.net.

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