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Your Guide to Healthy Grocery Shopping

Healthy eating starts with the foods you buy and store in your pantry and refrigerator. In order to start living a healthier lifestyle, you need to have access to food options that provide the best nutritional value and satisfy your hunger.

As I was grocery shopping, I noticed how many food ads jump out at you as you walk through the aisles. If it’s not the buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) bargain or the coupon item that calls your attention, it’s the store display to a new food product that was not on your “eat healthy list”. No wonder Americans are so confused on what to eat, they are constantly being led to the not-so-good-for-you food choices.

To help avoid this, I have some tips that will ensure you make better food shopping choices and leave your refrigerator and pantry stocked with healthier foods.

1.    Make your list – even if it’s a mental list, take a moment to figure out what you really need to purchase before facing endless options.

a.    Think about your week ahead − what does your schedule look like − what will your meals and snacks consist of?

b.    Using a list may keep you more focused and help you avoid wandering through the store and decrease your chance of falling into the marketing trap.

2.    Avoid going shopping on an empty stomach – doing so may cause everything your eyes land on to look irresistible.

3.    Purchase as fresh as possible.  Fresh foods tend to be on the outer aisles of most groceries stores, with all the boxed, canned and frozen foods in the middle aisles. 

a.    Reading food labels can help you indentify better choices of the boxed, canned and frozen products.  Beware:these items often have added fat, salt and sugar.

b.    Choose items with recognizable ingredients when possible choose items free from preservatives and additives or GMO’s (genetically modified).

4.    Vary your nutrients. Make sure you purchase foods from each food group to ensure that you have the items needed to make balanced meals and snacks.

Use the guide below to help you.

Fresh produce – Choose a variety of different options, colors, textures and leafy options,. Choose vegetables that you can eat raw (such as a snack or as a salad) and those that you can cook (such as a side dish or as a main entrée). Choose fruits that you can carry with you for a snack and some that require to be cut up. Seasonal and locally grown vegetables and fruits tend to be on sale. Pay closer attention to signs indicating what region, farm, or location the produce comes from. Choose options that are grown closest to you.

Proteins– Choose white meat poultry and lean cuts of meat such as round or sirloin. Eat more fresh wild caught fish, such as salmon.

Dairy products- Choose 1% or nonfat skim milk, nonfat yogurt and low-fat cheeses. Avoid full fat items like cream, whole milk, and high-fat cheese (such as creamy cheeses).

Grains, Rice, Breads, Pasta and Cereals – Choose whole grain and whole wheat options that provide more than 3 grams of fiber per serving.


About Natalie Castro-Romero, M.S., R.D., LDN
Natalie Castro-Romero is the Chief Wellness Dietitian for corporate wellness at Baptist Health South Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Florida International University.  She completed her master’s degree in nutrition and exercise science at the State University of New York, University at Buffalo. Ms. Romero is certified in adult weight management and works passionately to improve the health of both adults and children. Her clinical experience includes working with patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders and critically ill patients in intensive care.  In addition, she has conducted research on eating behaviors and pediatric obesity. Her research has been published in several peer-reviewed medical journals.