Grocery shopping can be a tricky task, especially if you’re trying to make healthier food choices. With all the bright packaging and tempting treats on display it can be hard to know what’s actually good for you. But with a few tips and tricks, grocery shopping doesn’t have to feel overwhelming or like an uphill battle. Here are some helpful ideas on how to shop smarter and make better decisions while stocking up your pantry.

Choose Fresh Foods When You Can

Fresh foods tend to be much healthier than processed alternatives because they haven’t been exposed to the various preservatives and additives that are used in the processing of packaged foods. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables provides your body with essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients for optimal health. Fruit, for example, is a great source of energy, fiber, and antioxidants. It’s also low in calories and can help you feel full for longer. When shopping for produce, opt for organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. If organic is not available or too expensive, look for locally grown or seasonal items as a better option than imported produce.

Know What to Avoid

It’s important to know what foods to avoid while grocery shopping in order to stay healthy. Processed foods, like chips and candy, are often high in calories, sodium, and sugar. Instead of reaching for these items, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables or whole grain products. Foods that are high in trans fats, such as margarine and shortening, should also be avoided because they can increase your risk for heart disease. Refined carbs and sugars can result in inflammation and increase your risk of chronic pain. White breads and pastas are quickly digested and therefore provide little nutrition or sustained energy.

Make a Plan Ahead of Time

Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a stressful experience, but it can be easy to make unhealthy impulse buys if you don’t plan ahead. It’s important to have a game plan prior to going shopping so that you stick to your list and make better choices. The easiest way to do this is by planning the meals you want to eat ahead of time. Once your meal calendar is in place, write down the ingredients on a grocery list and stick to it on your shopping trip. 

Shopping for healthier food doesn’t have to be hard. If you choose fresh foods when you can, learn what kind of foods to avoid, and make a plan before you go shopping, it will be so much easier. You’ll feel better and have more energy to do the things you love.

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