When you want to start eating healthier, but you don’t want to eat a specific diet, or avoid eating all of the foods that you love… You also don’t want to spend much more than you already do on groceries, what do you do? One relatively easy answer is to avoid processed foods.
There are all sorts of “diets” out there, and frankly the word “diet” has become a very misunderstood and misused word. A diet includes everything that you consume. It’s not a specific eating style, but rather it’s made up of every element of the foods we eat, from breads to drinks to cookies. It’s your very own diet. So when I say “diet” I really mean your eating style, not a restrictive calorie-counting program.
Another term being used here is “unprocessed” food. This does not mean you have to eat only raw and organic foods or anything of that nature (although it’s great if you do!). It simply means that you are trying to avoid additives, preservatives, and ingredients that are not good for you in the first place.
So let’s get to the point here; how do you grocery shop to eat more healthy and avoid processed foods?
How to Grocery Shop to Avoid Processed Foods
There are a few simple ideas to get you started;
1. Shop mainly the outside edges of the store, not within the aisles (the edges of the store are where you find the produce, dairy, and butcher – fresh foods versus boxed and canned foods).
2. Check the label of everything that you buy. If you wouldn’t cook at home with an ingredient listed on a food, then don’t buy it.
Those two rules will get you buying healthier items in no time!
Let’s talk specifics:
- Fruits and veggies are unlimited! You can buy and eat as many as you would like! Of course organic is best, but we all know that isn’t always possible. Replace boxed and bagged snacks with fruits and veggies and you are well on your way!
- Meats should be monitored. Aim to eat 3 meals a week with meat, and the rest of the days have meatless meals. You would be surprised how much money this saves you. When shopping for meat, don’t go for the cheapest option. Check to see if nitrates and nitrites are used, as these are no-no ingredients used in many meats. Grass-fed organic is the best choice, but again, this isn’t always possible. Many stores carry at least grass fed meats at an affordable price. That organic label can get pricey.
- Dairy is okay! And guess what? Whole milk and products made with it are your best option! Yes, you read that right! Whole milk, not 2%, 1% or skim, but WHOLE milk. Some people get scared when you say this thinking that it makes you gain weight, but the key is everything else that you eat and your portions. Portions are key when you want to eat healthy.
- Breads and cereals can get tricky. There are not many good options for bread, and making your own is easy, but that can sometimes take a lot of time that we don’t all have. Look for a bread that’s first ingredient is whole wheat flour, not enriched white, or enriched wheat, or anything enriched for that matter. Whole wheat is where it’s at! Look for the black and yellow whole wheat certification on it as well. The same goes for cereal; avoid additives and dyes. Things like cheerios and shredded wheat (without the frosting!) are decent choices for cereal.
Next time that you go grocery shopping, start looking at your labels to see what you are really eating. You might to be surprised to discover what’s in your favorite foods!
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