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Shopping strategies for healthy foods
From MayoClinic.com
Special to CNN.com

To eat healthy foods, you don't have to drastically change the way you shop. But these strategies will help ensure you have the right foods to follow your healthy eating plan.

Step 1: Plan ahead

Decide how many major meals you'll be shopping for. Then, consider the number of food items you'll need for breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Take an inventory of your staples, such as low-fat milk, fresh fruit and whole grains (brown rice, cereals and pasta).

Step 2: Make a list

A list will make your shopping trip more efficient and help you avoid impulse purchases. Try to stick only to what's on your list, but don't let your list prevent you from looking for or trying new healthy foods.

When making your shopping list, use your weight-loss menus as your guide. Make sure your list includes the food items you'll need to follow the menus. Also, be sure your list includes healthy and convenient snack foods. Suggestions include:

  • Baby carrots
  • Celery sticks
  • Broccoli florets
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Fresh berries
  • Grapes
  • Whole-grain bagels
  • Animal crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Salsa and baked tortilla chips
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Whole-grain snack crackers
  • Reduced-calorie, fat-free yogurt

Step 3. Shop the perimeter of the store for fresh foods

Picture your grocery store in your mind. Chances are the fresh produce section, meat and seafood departments, and dairy case are all located on the perimeter. Great, because that's where to concentrate your shopping when using the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid. Fresh foods are generally better than ready-to-eat foods because you can control what extra ingredients you add.

Step 4. Shop after a good meal

It can be hard to resist buying high-fat, high-calorie snack items, especially when you're hungry. So set yourself up for success and shop after you've eaten a good meal. If you do find yourself shopping on an empty stomach, drink some water or buy a piece of fruit to munch on.

Step 5. Read food labels

Since May 1994, packaged goods sold in the United States have carried the Nutrition Facts label. This panel is an at-a-glance method for verifying how a food fits into a typical weight management plan. Each label contains information pertaining to serving size, calories, nutrients and Daily Values. This information can inform you about foods that are healthy, and warn you of those that aren't so healthy — often those that are highly processed or refined. Routinely checking food labels helps you compare the nutritional qualities of similar products.

  • How to read the Nutrition Facts food label
  • Percent Daily Value (%DV): What does it mean?
  • June 21, 2006

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