Navigating the grocery store

If you’ve ever walked into the grocery store feeling a little lost, especially when you’ve shown up with some motivation to clean up your diet, you’re not alone. The old suggestion used to be to shop the perimeters of the grocery store to keep wholesome food in sight. But the store structure is adapting with our attempts at wellness and some are placing the processed junk on end caps and nuts right in the middle by the candy.

Friendly reminder: anything advertised “low-fat”, “lowers cholesterol”, “high fiber” and the like, usually isn’t stamped on a real food product. Don’t fall victim to these claims; notice real things like meat, vegetables, fruits and eggs don’t have any marketing on them. (Check out my last post on on eating real food here: Back to basics: Eating real food)

As a college student who has to watch how much I spend, I typically buy all my produce and packaged items at a regular grocer (especially the places where you earn points), and my meat or poultry items somewhere with a little higher meat and seafood standards like Sprouts or Whole Foods. These products at a typical supermarket are usually packed with water and salt, driving the weight, and therefore price up, while ripping you off and increasing your sodium intake. Now if grabbing chicken or beef at a higher-end grocery store is not an option for you, whether due to transportation or financial reasons, I would definitely recommend eating chicken breast from Wal-mart or a traditional grocery store than not at all; the nutrition benefits from these kinds of foods are outweighed by the potential additives they may contain in my opinion (just make sure you cook them thoroughly, but you should do that anyway no matter where you buy it).

My second effective strategy is to come armed with a list. Plan out what you’d like to eat for the week (meals, snacks, spices/extra ingredients as needed) and write it all down in your phone or on a piece of paper to reference in the grocery store. Staying on track with what you’ve already planned is good for your wallet and sticking to your goals.

Happy shopping!