No doubt about it, the supermarket can be an overwhelming environment! With all the different food packaging or labels and the multitude of health claims and nutrition information, we can understand that a trip to the grocery store may be daunting. Try our simple tips and tricks to help you best navigate the supermarket and feel confident in making better food choices for your health.
Shop with intent. Armed with a list in hand and a full belly will help you be better prepared to avoid the temptation of buying things you don’t really need.
A satisfying protein-based snack or meal before going to the shops will help you feel more in control of what you purchase as you may confidently turn your back on specials on ultra-processed foods. If you stick to your shopping list and buy only exactly what you have planned to use, you will reduce the risk of walking out with other unwanted items. If you stick to your shopping list and buy only exactly what you have planned to use, you will also be reducing the potential for any food waste too.
Shop around the outside of the supermarket. Most supermarkets tend to have the same basic layout: fresh foods along the outer aisles or walls, and processed and packaged foods in the centre aisles. Think vegetables, fruit, dairy products and meat. However, you may venture into the centre aisles for ingredients such as rolled oats, tinned goods (ie. chopped tomatoes, legumes or lentils), wholegrain bread or brown rice, natural nut butters or nuts and seeds.
Be aware of the layout of the shelves too. Product layout is a sneaky technique used to present food products to us, without a thought about their nutritional value. Healthier products are often found right at the top, or the bottom. We may be more tempted by products at eye level, which can be the more expensive, or name brand products. Next time you are at the supermarket, remember to stretch and bend to ensure you get the best choice!
The shorter the ingredients list, the better. To be safe in our food purchasing, choose real, unprocessed foods, and avoid ingredients that are unfamiliar or unpronounceable. Hopefully by now you are making more informed decisions by reading food labels and ingredients lists on food packages. A good way to avoid these ‘complicated’ foods is by leaving behind any processed food products that your Grandmother might not recognise as ingredients. Another good tip is if you can’t pronounce it, don’t get it.
Be wary of health claims that can in fact be very misleading. Chances are, the items that scream ‘whole-grain’ or ‘healthy choices’ or even ‘light/low fat’ are filled with a lot of other ingredients you probably don’t want to be putting into your body, such as added sugars. Stick to the basics - food in it’s most natural form, with the fewest ingredients. Try to avoid reading the marketing labels, and instead make your own assessment by reading the ingredients list and nutrition information panel. Online supermarket shopping can be really helpful for this too. This way you can suss out the truly good-for-you brands to make your next trip faster, easier, and more health focused.