Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger Theresa Walker - BeachBody Coach
When I decided I needed to make some healthy changes in my life several years ago, I knew the #1 culprit was my diet. What I was eating day in and day out. First, I took a look at what I was eating/drinking and made a plan of action for what I wanted to change and how. Obviously, my grocery shopping habits had to change. The junk food aisle I strolled down every week, needed to be avoided. I also found out the “healthy” Lean Cuisine lunches I was eating a few times a week weren’t a great choice; I needed to find other options. Here are some tips that I now use while I shop each week that help keep me on track:
Make a shopping list, as you plan your weeknight meals. Other than sales that you find, stick to it. This helps ensure you will have what you need for healthful dinners, and not running through the drive-thru or grabbing something fast and frozen. Don’t forget about side dishes, you not only need to think about the meat, but what veggies you’ll want with it. And by planning ahead you can use fresh veggies instead of canned.
2. Stay away from the aisles of junk food that you know will only tempt you! Seriously, don’t even look down them, just keep walking! Fill up your grocery cart with fresh fruits and veggies- about 1/3 of what is in my cart is fruits/veggies. Fruits and veggies not only are good for you, but they help keep you full, unlike that box of crackers or cookies. Try to avoid the canned fruits, they are usually in a thick sugary syrup sauce.
3. Do some research before you go. When you’re making a lifestyle change, you need to figure out WHAT you are going to change, and what you will replace it with. Lately, there are many brands who sell products that promote they are “natural” or “healthy” or “lower in fat”, but many times it can be false claims. Anything can be natural. So, for instance if you are looking for a new yogurt brand, or soup, check out the information online. Ask friends for recommendations. Look at the nutritional info, many brands have that info online. It will save you time while shopping.
4. Don’t fall for the product marketing on the package! Fresh and 100% natural are thrown around even on cookie packages. Disregard what is in the big bold print that is written to get you to buy, instead flip the package over and read the ingredient list. **If you can’t pronounce many of the ingredients, look for another option** Eating healthy means eating REAL food, if most of what you are eating is chemicals and things made in a laboratory to keep it fresh, add flavor or improve color, you’re eating a science experiment!
5. Read the Nutritional Label; here is what is most important: Total calories, Saturated Fat (the other Poly and Mono Fats are GOOD fats and OK), Sodium, Fiber and Protein. Next, find a few items that are similar, like say if you are looking for a granola bar, and then compare. You may find that some are looking like a much healthier option than others. All of these little choices, add up.
6. Don’t worry *too* much about fat content. Some fat is good for you, ie: Polyunsaturated and Monosaturated fats are Ok. These are found in nuts and healthy oils. Don’t be scared of fat, DO be scared of any trans fats and be careful of saturated fat. And, be aware that sometimes a label will say 0 Trans fats, even in big letters on the label, yet when you go to read the label, you’ll see partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, that is another word for trans fats. Currently, in the United States if a food has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat in a serving, the food label can read 0 grams trans fat. This hidden trans fat can add up quickly, especially if you eat several servings of multiple foods containing less than 0.5 grams a serving!
7. Look for 100% Whole Wheat, and check the label! A lot of breads might promote they are “whole grains” or “multi-grain”, that doesn’t mean they are 100%. Save your money for the real-deal, first ingredient should say: whole wheat flour.
8. Eggs, unless your Dr. has instructed you to watch your cholesterol, buy “regular” eggs. Don’t waste your money on Egg Beaters, egg yolks are ok, in fact more than ok for you!
9. Eating organic can be expensive. So, spend your money for the organic fruits/veggies that normally get the most pesticides, the “dirty dozen”: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes, grapes and lettuce. The following is a list of the “clean 15”, which bore little to no traces of pesticides: onions, avocado, sweet corn, pineapples, mango, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi fruit, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes.
10. Turkey burgers and turkey bacon are NOT necessarily better for you than their beef or pork counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE ground turkey, but the kind I buy actually has the same amount of fat as the ground beef I was used to buying! Unless you buy the extra lean, 7% fat is 7% fat, whether in beef or turkey. With that said, go ahead and buy red meat if you enjoy it, I would just recommend looking at the percentage of fat in it, and choosing a leaner option, and eating in moderation.
11. Try one or two things per trip. When making a change, it’s easy to get excited and start buying up lots of things that catch your eye, but hold off. Since normally eating healthier or fresher is more expensive, and when you try something new you never know how much you (or your family) will or won’t like it, it is safer to go slowly, otherwise you will end up losing money.
12. Avoid anything with artificial sweeteners! It’s easy to choose something that has zero “sugar”, because it is lower calorie and seems like a guiltless treat, however studies show that not only are artificial sweeteners not proven safe for consumption, but they also can wreak havoc on our brain response for sugar and taste buds. Thus, you end up craving more of that super sweet taste. Real sugar is OK, in moderation. Or, another option is stevia, which comes from a plant, so it’s all natural, not chemicals.
13. When shopping for fish, buy wild-caught, not farm-raised. It’s not always easy to find, and you may have to go the meat counter, but it’s much better for you. You ARE what you eat, whatever your animal ingests, is exactly what you are putting into your body via the quality or non-quality of meat.
14. Be wary of snacks that say they are healthy, like veggie chips, most veggie chips, have basically zero veggies in them. I hear people say how they buy them to give their kids veggies and I cringe! If it's not in the first ingredient or two, then you're not getting what you think you are. Again, reading labels pays off!
15. Take a look at your shopping cart as you check out and pile things onto the belt. If you are seeing a lot of “junk” or processed stuff, now is your chance to return it! Sometimes I see a few treats that I want, and when I get to the checkout, I choose one and put the others back. You can always get a good idea on how healthy (or unhealthy) a person eats by looking at what is on that belt! If you look at what is on your belt, does it look like a well-balanced and healthy eater?
I hope this list was helpful for you and maybe you have a new tool in your “tool box” to help you make some healthy lifestyle changes. If you have a tip or trick you use while shopping, please add it in the comments below, I’d love to hear it!
Theresa is a wife and stay at home mother of 2 energetic boys, DJ (8) and Aiden (5). She has a bachelors in Communications and prior to being a mother she worked at Better Investing magazine in advertising and as a Corporate Account Manager. These days she is fortunate enough to spend time with her boys checking out all of the local fun there is to be had. She and her family love to travel. She is also active in a large online mom's group through Facebook that she started called Planet Mom. She enjoys being active and one of her proudest accomplishments was running the Detroit Half Marathon as well as the Romeo to Richmond Half. In her free time you can find her running or biking through Stony Creek. Or curled up on a couch with a good book and her cat in her lap. She recently became a BeachBody Coach, so that she could share her love for health and fitness with others to help them reach their personal goals. You can find her Facebook page at Inspired Health & Fitness. She considers herself a "Fit Foodie" and loves trying new recipes, experimenting and new restaurants around town. She hopes she can share some of her tips for healthy eating and exercise for busy moms and Metro Detroit Mommy Fans.