Grocery Shopping Can be overwhelming without a game plan! I have put this blog post together to hopefully help you shop! =)
The grocery store can be a stressful, agonizing experience if you don’t have some judicious food-selection strategies in place before you get there!
If you don’t have a plan of attack, you may be tempted to toss into your cart various items that may very well hinder your energy goals, cloud your focus, lower your self-confidence, make your jeans fit more tightly and your body feels sluggish.
My advice for grocery shopping is to “keep it simple”. The food industry spends a ton of money researching how best to manipulate us into buying their cheaply made, nutrient-depleted products. Displays at the end-caps of aisles, treats in the checkout lanes, buzzwords like “natural”, “whole”, and “superfood” plastered on packaging, and flashy signs revealing sale items are there to lure you into purchasing this low-quality (yet overpriced) items.
Your GAME PLAN for the Grocery Store:
(Think meat, fish, and eggs.)
Quality is the name of the game here; the higher the quality, the more nutrient dense the protein source. This list contains high-quality protein terms like “grass fed” and “pasture-raised” and they are ideally what you’ll get, but if they aren’t available, or don’t fit into your budget, just do the best you can! Toxins are stored in animal fat, so when you don’t get the highest-quality versions, buy lean versions of non-organic, cuts of meat and fish. You can then easily add a healthy fat source to your meal or snack, as outlined in the next section. And remember, you can always buy them in bulk and freeze them.
- Grass-fed beef
- Pasture-raised chicken
- Eggs from pastured hens
- Nitrate-free bacon
- Wild-caught fish (salmon, tuna, tilapia, sardines)
- Seafood (oysters, mussels, clams, crab, shrimp)
Fat supports your brain’s functioning, keeps you satiated throughout your day, and works as a buffer to keep your blood sugars from spiking too quickly when eaten with carbohydrates; this translates into better focus, greater energy, and fewer cravings.
Steer clear of:
Margarine and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats). Processed, refined, omega-6 oils like canola, “vegetable”, soybean, safflower, cottonseed, and corn oils are also damaging. Basically, any fats found in fast food or pre-packaged, processed food won’t do you any favors!
Healthy fats that should be on your list:
- Avocado (both the fruit and its oil)
- Butter (“grass-fed” is ideal)
- Coconut oil (unrefined)
- Coconut milk (FULL Fat)
- Unsweetened coconut
- Olive oil (virgin or extra-virgin)
- Nuts & seeds (perfect portable fats!)
Carbs have the greatest impact on your blood sugar levels, and they give you quick energy. Do your best to stick to real-food carbs (meaning vegetables and fruits) as your main sources of carbohydrates, because these varieties are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Spend most of your shopping time in the produce section. If there were only one thing you could do to improve your overall health, it’d be to consume more vegetables and fruits.
Pick out fresh avocados and salad veggies like broccoli, kale, cucumbers, cauliflower, peppers, zucchini, and carrots.
Low-sugar fruits like raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are also delicious and nutrient-dense, along with my favorite starchy veggie, the sweet potato.
Excellent non-starchy carbs to include (You can eat an unlimited amount!):
- Brussels sprouts
- Green beans
- Leafy greens of all types
- Peppers (sweet & hot)
Some great starchy carbs include (these are really good for you after your run!):
- Winter squash
Herbs & Spices
To keep your meals interesting, get comfortable cooking with herbs and spices! They offer a great way to add flavor without adding sugar, and fresh herbs and spices actually contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than vegetables and fruits!
The flavor possibilities awaiting you are endless!!
Coffee and tea are two beverage staples you can definitely include. And, sparkling water with fruit is a solid go-to for a refreshing soda replacement! Remember, when you feel thirsty, that means you’re already dehydrated. So stay ahead of your thirst!
Fermented foods replenish and diversify the bacterial populations in your gut, which can greatly improve your overall health (immune function, cognition, digestion, and many other functions). If you haven’t tried sauerkraut, kombucha, give these a shot!
Snacks consisting of high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and whole-food carbs will boost your energy levels, keep your metabolism humming, and keep you focused between meals. A few healthy staples: hardboiled eggs or grass-fed beef sticks for protein, a handful of nuts or some guacamole for healthy fat, and some dried fruit or carrot sticks for carbohydrates.
A few other important things to keep in mind:
- Assume that anything you put in your cart will end up in your mouth. We’ve all had those moments where we put a few items into our cart that we really don’t plan on eating (“They’re for the potluck!” or “They’re for the party!”); this behavior almost never serves us. Fill your cart with those items that you feel confident will nourish your body. When in doubt, leave them out. 🙂
- Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Your brain’s primary biochemical response when you are hungry is to encourage you to seek out sugar (being really intelligent, it knows that hunger means low blood-sugar levels—and sugar presents the quickest way to raise them). Be a smart player of this grocery shopping game, and get some protein, healthful fat, and carbs in your system before you start. A couple of hard-boiled eggs, some veggies, and some guac should do the trick.
- Buy what you can online. You can save time, temptation, and even a few bucks! Items like coffee, tea, pharmaceutical-grade supplements, dried fruits, nuts, grass-fed beef, and jerky are all things you can easily find online.
- Another perk: You can take your time reading the labels so you don’t miss anything questionable!
A few more important things…
• No browsing. Make it your mission to get in and get out of the store ASAP.
• Buy mostly label-less items. And if an item does have a label, shoot for one with a small number of pronounceable ingredients.
• Stick to the perimeter of the store. In general, foods from the center aisles are refined and processed. You’ll find the fresh foods like produce, meat, seafood, and eggs when you shop the perimeter. Only brave the middle aisles for oils, fats, frozen items, and spices—or, better yet, stock up on some of these “interior-aisle items” online (and save money, too!), so you can avoid temptation.
• Make a list and stick to it. Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time will help you get in, collect the necessities, and get out. Always feel free, though, to throw in a few extra fresh fruits and veggies!