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Win In The Grocery Store

Nutrition January 12, 2021

Grocery Shopping Tips

Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the grocery store? I do. 

As a kid I remember going to the grocery store with my mom. Hanging onto or riding in the cart with my brother and sister. I am sure my mom questioned taking us all to the store at the same time but I don’t think she had a choice. 

My dad worked during the day (as a police officer) and my mom was a “domestic engineer”…such is the life of a stay at home mom. Now I understand why my wife frequently leaves Charlee (my toddler) at home with Sydney and Brady while she goes to the store…a sanity break. 

When I was little I thought the grocery store was so big and I stayed close to the cart at all times but occasionally a snack or shiny toy would catch my attention and I would wander off. 

Eventually I would realize that I was all alone and then began to feel scared. I knew I had two choices. I could wander through the store looking for my mom or I could go to the front of the store, find an employee and tell them I was lost. 

This happened often enough that I chose option two. They would get on the store intercom system and page my mom, except it was usually generic like “ Attention HEB shopper, if you are missing a little blonde headed boy please come to the customer service desk to claim him”. Luckily she always came to get me. 

If you have ever felt lost while wandering the aisles for groceries trying to make healthy options I am here to help give you a map so you don’t have to call for help. 

Since eating healthy is a way of life for me I want to share a few tips on shopping that I have gathered over the years. Note, I like junk food, especially chips and chocolate but only in moderation. My weakness is tortilla chips and double stuffed Oreo’s. 

First, I don’t believe you should starve yourself or completely eliminate something you love while you are “dieting”. This just sets you up for failure. 

You also need to establish a milestone, something to work towards using the Kaizen principle of taking very small steps. 

An example could be slowly reducing your intake of unhealthy foods while adding a healthy snack or veggies to your plate. Then have that occasional cookie or ice cream as a reward. I use the Pareto principle when it comes to food choices. My daily goal is to eat healthy at least 80% of the day, week and month. 

I heard someone once say “You can’t outrun a bad diet” meaning all of the exercise in the world won’t compensate for poor eating choices. This is like pouring sugar in your car’s gas tank or running a high performance race car with low grade gasoline. 

So here is the map and I believe the key to making better choices in the store. If you study the layout of most grocery stores you will find that the best stuff for you is on the periphery of the store. Think about it. 

Lets use Brookshires for example here in Springtown. As you come in (walk straight past the tempting bakery shop)  and head to the produce section. Here you can pick out your favorite fruits and vegetables. 

Continue on the perimeter of the store.  You will find the deli section (be careful here as well), fresh meats, eggs and eventually dairy products. This should make up the majority of items in your basket. 

Next comes the frozen section, no not for the ice cream or frozen pizzas but for frozen fruit and veggies. 

I use frozen blueberries in my smoothie every morning along with some baby spinach and almond butter. 

Buying frozen fruit and vegetables is a great way to keep them on hand and they don’t go bad as quickly compared to the fresh stuff. 

Now for the aisles. This is where we all get into trouble. Most of the items here are highly processed, which allows them to sit on the shelf for days, weeks and months. You really want to avoid unnecessary sugar and additives in your snacks and meals. 

You have to be a food detective and read the labels. Watch for added sugar and preservatives. Choose foods that have minimal ingredients on the label. . 

Ok that is it. Shop the periphery of the store for the majority of your food and you are on your way to making better food choices.  

Oh, and make sure you don’t go to the store hungry…believe me, you will put things in your cart that you never dreamed of and will most likely cause you to go off course of your healthy eating plan. 

Remember the KEY is to start so small that it is impossible to fail. 

Have a great week and let me know what strategies you use for making healthy choices in the grocery store.

To Your Health,

Dr. Robert Moss PT, ScD, OCS, FAAOMPT

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