(43 Ready-to-Use, Insider Tricks that simplify food shopping for weight loss )
If you’ve ever said: I don’t have time to cook, I don’t even know where to start, I’m always eating out b/c I’m constantly on the go … Then this post is for you.
TELLING you the exact products to eat is 1 thing. You possessing the SKILLS to make the right choices while “in the trenches” (i.e. food store) is QUITE another.
1st you should know that every day after freshman year in High School, my best friend and I would eat Pretzels, Yoo-hoo & Sour Patch Kids because we were determined to “eat healthy and get skinny.”
At that time, I thought this was a KICK ASS diet! (We still laugh about this because we had no clue that although “FAT FREE” these items were laden with crappy processed sugar, narsty processed carbs and chemicals! (Uhhhhgggkkkk!)
After (what feels like) 1000’s of years of school and 1000’s of Lbs lost by clients, I want to share with you my success tips.
I’ ve complied a concise list of
43 ready-to-use tricks to decode & simplify grocery shopping
to allow you to FINALLY shop & eat to lose weight.
1. Go food shopping on a full stomach.
2. Healthy eating is NEVER an afterthought. Those who have incorporated this into their lifestyle are always *prepared*.
3. Beware: BROWN or GREEN Packaging doesn’t always = best. Companies know that we associate these colors with a healthier product. Be a label investigator to uncover claims of goodness.
4. “Low Carb”, “All Natural”, are terms not regulated by the FDA. DIRT is all natural, that doesn’t mean it’s good for you
5. Stay on the perimeter of the store. Avoid “end of isle” and checkout displays – they contain sneaky snacks with fatty/salty/empty calories.
6. Go in with a list. Being prepared will decrease the likelihood that you’ll make poor or “snap” decisions causing weight gain and wallet drain.
7. Don’t shop on a “MEAL to MEAL” basis. Stock your cabinets with the right stuff IN ADVANCE. NO ONE has will power to make the right choices when they are ravenous and prowling through the store at 8:30pm on a Tuesday.
8. Look out Below! Often the healthier option is on a lower shelf. I guess marketers think fit people like doing squats even in the grocery store!!
9. Go food shopping on Wednesdays – the store is always less crowded.
10. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) = death. Joking, well sort of. This is a HIGHLY processed form of sugar. Our bodies don’t know how to break this down and should be avoided at all costs.
11. Avoid “fake-out” healthy foods: some whole wheat breads, low-fat salad dressing, protein bars, low-fat yogurt, cereals, pretzels, juice, weight loss shakes. The problem? It’s the HFCS hidden inside that’s the diet killer.)
12. Get a MONTH’S worth of a *variety* of essentials so you are always prepared. Breakfast grains: Oatmeal, oat bran. Staple starches: quinoa, barley, brown rice, spelt pasta, buckwheat. Beans/Legumes: canned or bagged. Frozen veggies – at least 7-10 bags.
13. Get 2 weeks worth of MEAT/protein to freeze so you are always prepared: boneless/skinless chicken, lean pork, lean ground chicken, lean ground turkey, salmon, shrimp, sea bass etc. Tofu.
14. Use (unsalted) spices, garlic, onions or lemon to enhance flavor of whole unprocessed foods.
15. Practice makes perfect. Consistently making better choices takes repetition. Repetition. Repetition.
16. Don’t buy brands based on what your parents gave you as kid; seek out the healthiest option by reading labels.
17. Produce: Shop the rainbow. The more deep and rich in color, the greater age defying, cancer fighting, heart healthy benefits you’ll enjoy!
18. Seeing Red! Companies use RED and YELLOW packaging when pushing fatty, sugary and calorie laden foods on the masses. Can’t resist? Wear sunglasses.
19. The produce section is the biggest portion of the store and should therefore make up the largest portion of your grocery cart AND your plate.
20. The 1st5 ingredients on a food label are the most abundant. I don’t care what claims are made on the front of the package. If 1-5 contain sugar, salt or oil quietly put it back and run.
21. Mixing it up is the key to keeping it fresh, exciting and fun! If you always buy Gala apples, next time get golden delicious. Green peppers last week? Next week scoop up some succulent orange babies.
22. Minimal packaging & labels are best. Choose whole, unprocessed foods that look as did when coming out of the ground/off of the tree/out of the water.
23. Choose 100% Whole Wheat Breads with at least 3 grams of fiber per 100 calories.
24. CARBS aren’t bad (for the last and final time!) It’s the TYPE OF CARB that you choose that makes the difference. ALWAYS: “100% Whole Wheat” (not whole “grain”, 12 grain, or multi grain.) NEVER: Enriched, Bleached, or Unbleached Wheat.
25. Marinades, Sauces, and Condiments — OH MY! … Filled with diet-sabotaging sugar and excess calories! Just say NO!
26. Cut meat into single servings, stick in zip-lock bags and freeze them as soon as you get home from the supermarket. (Thanks Rachel Ray!)
27. Long Shelf Life = shorter human life. Crackers, cakes, snacks, cereals, chips are engineered to last 5 plus years due to chemicals & processed sugars that even normal microbes won’t touch or spoil.
28. Beware of BUZZ words – LOW FAT, LOW SUGAR, LOW CARB. That’s really CODE for “Hey I am highly processed, look over here!”
29. Be a food label investigator. Compare common foods you buy to other brands on the shelf. Can you find a brand with 1/3 of the amount of salt, fat or calories? I bet you can, you just have to look!
30. Avoid “weight loss shakes.” Slim Fast & Yoohoo have the same ingredients. All you have to do is read the label.
31. Mind the PORTION SIZE. The calories, fat, carbs, sugar listed on the back is for 1 serving. Consuming the a whole bag of _____ may net you 5-8 servings.
32. Get out of the BREAKFAST RUT: say yes to high fiber, no to refined sugars and HELL NO to on-the-go breakfast drinks/bars!
33. Take Breakfast beyond cereal. Try oatmeal with nuts & cinnamon; sprouted grain bread w/ 2 egg whites; fruit smoothie with skim or soy milk; cottage cheese with veggies; egg white omelet w/veggies; banana w/ natural peanut butter.
34. You’ll know it’s Processed Food vs Whole Food when:
Processed: LONG shelf life b/c of chemicals and refined sugars/carbs. Maximal packaging boxes, plastics, foils. Always tastes the same (no matter what box you buy, in what store/country.) Highly marketed and sexy. Biohazardy chemical ingredients you can’t pronounce. Minimal to NO fiber.
Whole: SHORT shelf life, will spoil in about a week. Minimal to no packaging/labels. One can taste different from the next. Minimally marketed and unsexified. Minimal to no “ingredients.” TONS of fiber.
35. Follow a portion size guide: MEAT = deck of cards. BREAD = thickness of finger. GRAINS = clenched fist. OIL = ping pong ball. NUTS = ping pong ball.
36. EAT LOTS OF FIBER – it reduces spikes in blood sugar, decreases weight gain and promotes healthy weight. BONUS: you feel full quicker and longer.
37. Find fiber here –> whole wheat items,oats, fruits, veggies, beans, legumes.
38. It’s NOT EXPENSIVE to eat healthy! Coupons (in store, online), fruit that is in-season, buy in bulk, go to local farmers market, no conveniently packed/cut veggies/meat/fruits/yogurt.
(In the long run, eating in restaurants/take-out will drain your wallet faster than buying the raw materials and DIY.)
39. Cost vs Convenience. Claim you don’t have time to eat healthy? What’s your real objection? Restaurants, although convenient, shrink your wallet and expand your waist line.
41. Hormones & Antibiotics in poultry were outlawed in the 70’s. Don’t fall for this as a marketing ploy.
42. Just say NO to LOW or NO FAT bread/crackers/salad dressing/yogurt. They take out the fat and pump in crazy amounts of sugar or carbs to make up for the taste.
43. DONT SUPPLEMENT. To reap the benefits from the vitamin or mineral you are after, you are usually better off eating the source in its natural form. (Unless prescribed by your MD.)
Laura Miranda MsPT, CSCS