Does your 2018 New Year’s resolution involve weight loss? If so, now’s the time to start planning how you’re going to achieve your goal.
No matter how you slice it, weight loss depends on one basic equation: eating fewer calories than you expend through exercise or everyday activities. But the kind of calories you consume can also affect your weight loss.
Choosing the right foods can make the difference between seeing success on the scale and being left disappointed and frustrated. Shopping smart at the grocery store will give you the foundation you need for sustainable weight loss success.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate the grocery store and avoid some common nutritional pitfalls.
Make a list.
There’s no better time than the beginning of a new year to get into the habit of meal planning. Taking the time to plan your meals for the week and draw up a shopping list will help you make thoughtful decisions about the food you buy and eat. Making a list and sticking to it means you’ll be less likely to give into the temptation to buy those little extras that can break your healthy eating plan.
Shop the edges of the store.
Studies show that cutting processed foods and sticking to whole foods is good for both your waistline and your overall health. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where you’ll find fresh produce, meats, dairy products and grains. Yes, the bakery is typically located along the outer edge of the store, so skip the sweet baked goods and stick to whole grain products. If at all possible, avoid wandering down the inside aisles, where you’ll find most processed junk foods.
Don’t shop hungry.
This age-old advice still rings true. Heading to the grocery store on an empty stomach only means you’ll be more likely to give into cravings for less-than-healthy foods — especially when you’re hit with the smell of something sweet coming from the bakery or the delicious scents coming from the deli. Shopping with a full belly can help keep those cravings at bay and reduce impulse purchases.
Don’t fall prey to a good bargain.
The best bargains you’ll find at the store probably aren’t for the healthy foods you want to buy — and that’s okay. Be cautious about bargains and remember that a “buy one get one” deal won't benefit you if it’s for food that’s loaded with fat and/or sugar. The same goes for free samples. Remember, the reason grocery stores put out samples is to get you to make an unexpected purchase. Resist the extra calories that come with tasting all the free samples and stick to your list.
Read food labels.
If you’re sticking to whole foods, you shouldn’t need to examine too many labels, but if you do grab a packaged food, be sure to check the label before tossing it in your cart. Many foods labeled as “no sugar” actually do contain sugar — and lots of it — disguised under a different name. You may not see sugar in the ingredients list, but look for words such as dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose, cane sugar, cane juice and malt syrup. When in doubt, go online and look up an ingredient before making the purchase.
Shop for frozen foods.
We’re not talking pizza and french fries, here. Frozen produce and meats are often more affordable than their fresh counterparts, and they’ll also keep for months in your freezer. Grabbing a few bags of frozen veggies each time you’re at the store means you’ll always have a healthy option when you’re in a pinch.
Before you head out for your next grocery-shopping trip, arm yourself with these tips. Shop smart and you won’t have any regrets about the foods in your shopping cart. If you have questions about how you can make healthy food choices for you and your family in the coming year, schedule an appointment with a primary care provider with Goshen Physicians.