Most people feel confused when it comes to clean eating. With so many “healthy” foods available, it’s hard to tell which ones are actually good for you. Manufacturers use misleading labels and make false claims to sell their products. The store shelves are stuffed with breakfast cereals, low-fat yogurt, sugar-free cookies, and other highly processed foods.
Even the most avid dieters fall into this trap and buy stuff they don’t really need. A few weeks later, they wonder why their weight loss stalled or why they feel sick. These so-called healthy foods affect your health, causing fatigue, weight gain, heart disease, dull skin, and premature aging. Loaded with sugar and chemicals, they slowly poison your body and increase toxic load.
Luckily, it’s never too late to change your eating habits. Here are some grocery shopping tips for navigating the market with health in mind:
Write Everything Down
The first step to clean eating is to make a grocery list. This way you’ll know exactly what to buy and avoid temptation. Some people create a meal plan for the week and then purchase the foods needed for those meals. Others fill their pantry and fridge with healthy foods, and plan their meals later. For instance, you can load up on fresh fruits and veggies, look for recipes that incorporate those ingredients, and then cook your meals accordingly. The main goal is to stick to your list.
Don’t Shop While You’re Hungry
This is one of the biggest mistakes most people make. If you go to the store while you are hungry, you will be tempted by everything and may talk yourself into buying unhealthy treats. Make sure you have eaten before your trip – it will keep you focused and you won’t be tempted by the yummy aromas of the bakery section!
Shop the Perimeter
In general, the healthiest foods are located around the outside aisles of the store. Here you can find local and seasonal produce, frozen fruits and veggies, fresh whole grain breads, legumes, and whole grains. Most stores also feature bulk bins loaded with beans, chickpeas, almonds, cashews, lentils, and cereals. These products are cheaper when purchased in large amounts.
Choose Seasonal Produce
In-season fruits and vegetables are fresher and more nutritious. They also tend to contain fewer pesticides and herbicides. Their flavor is more appealing too. The best place to buy seasonal produce is the farmer’s market. You’ll not only eat better but also cut costs while supporting your local farmers.
Beware of Products Marketed as “Natural”
The term “natural” on product labels isn’t regulated by the FDA. “Natural” foods can be highly processed and loaded with chemicals. For instance, breakfast cereals often have this word on the label. Yet, they contain added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, tripotassium phosphate, modified corn starch, and preservatives.
Stick to Whole, Unprocessed Foods
Whole, unprocessed foods have no more than one or two ingredients. Take apples or oats for example. Avoid any products with a long ingredient list as well as those that last for years. Real food has a short shelf life and doesn’t need a label.
Make Smart Food Swaps
Sugar, store-bought sauces, dressings, mayo, and other processed foods have no place in a “clean” diet. However, you can always find healthier substitutes. When shopping for groceries, buy coconut flour instead of white flour. Almond, rye, and barley flour are a good choice too. Sugar can be replaced with stevia or honey. For mayo, use extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper.
Remember to check food labels for hidden sugars and fats. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, move on. Steer clear of additives, preservatives, dextrose, fructose, maltose, HFCS, MSG, and synthetic food dyes.