A lot of my clients and friends complain to me about food shopping. This is surprising to me because food shopping is one of my favorite activities (#Nutritionnerd)! Do you think you would enjoy food shopping more if someone helped you read labels and guided you towards buying the right products? There are a lot of products and aisles in the supermarket. To avoid overwhelming you with too many tips at once, here is part one of my tips to navigating the supermarket. If there is something you hate about the supermarket comment below so I can help you change that! Be on the lookout for part two!
6 steps to navigating the supermarket (Part 1)
- The 5/20 Rule: Always read the nutrition facts labels! A trick I like to use when reading nutrition labels is the 5/20 rule. Looking at percent daily values (%DV) are a quick way to see if something is high or low in specific nutrients. If the %DV is less than 5% the item is a poor source of the nutrient and if the %DV is greater than 20% the item is a good source of the nutrient. Nutrients we want to increase in our diets include fiber, vitamins and minerals. Nutrients we want to limit in our diets include total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium.
- The Nutrition Facts Label: Labels on products can be used to guide you. Use nutrition facts labels to compare products, find products with certain nutrition facts and ingredients, avoid ingredients (important for allergies and food intolerances) and plan special diets. For example if you are trying to follow a low sodium diet, using the label can help you find low sodium foods.
- The Produce Aisle: Think about eating the rainbow while in the produce aisle. Eating different colored fruits and vegetables will provide you with an array of disease fighting antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Different types of lettuces not only serve as great bases for salads, but they can also be cooked into different dishes. For example try cooking spinach and kale into soups, stir fries, omelets and grain dishes. When looking for snacks, remember bananas, apples, pears and oranges are easy to pack when you are on the go since their peels serve as their own carrying cases.
- Breads: When faced with multiple bread options your first step should be to read labels. Look for as few ingredients as possible, and words that you recognize for ingredients. Try to choose bread that lists whole grains/whole wheat as the first ingredient. Look for >2g fiber, >3 g protein, and <100 calories per slice.
- Protein and Granola Bars: With so many bar options out there its hard to know which ones are good for us and which ones are really just fancy candy bars. It is important to think about what you are using this bar for. If you are someone who is having it for pre workout fuel or post workout recovery what you look for will be different than someone who is looking for a snack to hold them until their next meal. Todays tips will focus on when purchasing bars as snacks. Similar to bread, you want to look for the bar that has few and recognizable ingredients. Look for ~200 calories for your snack bar and >3 g protein and >3g fiber. Fiber and protein are both important to hold you until your next meal!
- Milks: The milk aisle can be overwhelming since even cow’s milk has multiple options. There is skim, 1%, 2%, whole milk and then countless numbers of milk alternatives. Cows milk is a source of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, phosphorus, riboflavin and protein. The sugar in milk is naturally occurring from lactose. Depending on the rest of your daily diet, skim, 1%, 2% or whole milk could be the best choice for you. I usually recommend skim or 1%, but if you don’t have a lot of other fat in your diet, 2% or whole could fit into your diet too. If you are avoiding dairy for any reason, I recommend reading labels to choose which milk alternative is right for you. Many milk alternatives are fortified with calcium and vitamin D but it is important to always read labels to check. I also recommend choosing unsweetened varieties if watching your sugar intake. Soy Milk is plant based, is low in saturated fat, and a source of omega 3’s and protein. Almond Milk has no cholesterol or saturated fat, is a source of vitamin E but is low in protein. Coconut Milk contains saturated fat and no protein. Rice Milk is made from partially milled rice. This milk is a good choice for those with allergies, since rice allergies are rare. This milk is low in protein and has no saturated fat or cholesterol.
* If you have any food allergies or intolerances make sure you check the ingredients list for potential allergens.
I hope you enjoyed part one of my supermarket guide and that it helps make food shopping less stressful!