Good Nutrition Starts in the Supermarket

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Good nutrition doesn't start at home - it starts at the supermarket. What you buy will determine what you eat, so here are some buying tips to take with you the next time you go food shopping

The "Shop 'Til You Drop Supermarket" is a very dangerous place, and we're not talking about those unlicensed cart pushers banging at your heels. That's not where the real danger lies. It’s what you toss into your own, expertly driven cart that causes the problem - a health problem. The supermarket, with those tempting displays, tasty, snacky samples and strategically-planned product placements (goodies at eye level sell the most) can lead to unhealthy food purchases which, in turn, will lead to extra pounds, clogged arteries, sky-high cholesterol levels and overall poor health. However, you can do something to resist the temptations your local supermarket throws at you the second those automated doors swing open. .

You really want to eat healthy at home? Well, good nutrition starts in the supermarket, but so does bad nutrition, if you aren't prepped for the shopping experience. Here's a simple plan of attack.

Make a list and stick to it.
It sounds so simple, but many shoppers “wing it” as they move up and down the aisles, and that’s the surest way to buy foods you don't need (or really want). Keep a running grocery list on the fridge. Then, cut out the bad stuff - cookies, gummi bears, et al - and add healthy foods, or at least foods that deliver some nutrients.

Eat before you shop.
Under normal circumstances, you wouldn't touch the kielbasa samples in aisle 5, but skipping lunch has turned you into a ravenous shopper and kielbasa grazer ('Can I take just one more? Hmmm, they're so good.") Shopping on an empty stomach will often cause you to overbuy, or buy the wrong foods. Who can think on an empty stomach - especially in the cookie aisle?

Plan your shopping route.
Learn the layout of your favorite store and stick to the aisles you actually need to visit. No cookies on your list? Stay out of the aisle. You can’t buy what you don't see. Simple, easy and effective. (Might save a few bucks, to boot.)

Never shop when you're stressed.
If you’re stressed, depressed, or otherwise out of sorts, stay out of the stores. "Retail therapy" at the supermarket will fill your cart with 6 boxes of ice cream bars, a case of soda, the super-jumbo-mega bag of pork rinds (on sale, no less) oh, and the toothpaste you originally stopped for.

Shop online.
Many supermarket chains, and companies like peapod.com, give you the option of grocery shopping online. Same day delivery, the fee won't bust the budget and you know you’ll stick to your shopping list.

Healthy meals and snacks await in the aisles of your favorite supermarket. So prepare yourself, shop wisely and put the pork rinds back (even if they are on sale).