UEFP Nutrition Coaching: The Grocery Tour

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Grocery shopping can be pretty confusing. Big businesses spend a ton of money on marketing and making unhealthy foods look appealing – especially when you’re running through a grocery store in between work and kids soccer practice. Most people, myself included, usually end up spending more money than they thought they would. Emptying your groceries at home is usually proof of this: somehow items that you had no intention of ever buying end up in your pantry.

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But you can make a healthy grocery shopping list without having to sacrifice your favorite foods, and it also doesn’t have to be a chore. All you need is a quick and easy survival guide to getting in and out of your local store. It takes some planning, but with UEFP in your corner, you’ll be cutting down on the time spent in the store while eating to support your fitness goals. Much of this information is based on our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coaching that we use with our clients.

Before we get started here are a couple of rules before you even decide to step foot in a shopping aisle. Make this rules habitual and try your best not to violate them.

Rule #1 – Don’t go grocery shopping hungry. Your stomach will start growling once you hit the store and see all those fancy colors and dazzling display cases of cookies and brownies. Make a conscious effort to eat a full meal before shopping; if you’re on the go, a simple super shake of whey protein, spinach, blueberries, and flaxseed will do the trick

Rule #2 – Don’t bring hungry kids to the grocery store. We’ve all seen it before: a howling child making a scene and is determined to get that box of cereal placed in the shopping cart. Kids have the same issues as us: they get cranky and junk food can temporality solve those moody feelings. Plus, you’ll have that junk food in your house and that will only lead to temptations

Rule #3 – Make a list before you go. Nothing that isn’t on your list should be in your cart.

Step 1 – Keep the perimeter

                With very few exceptions, you can accomplish all of your grocery shopping by simply staying away from the aisles. Most stores place their veggies and fruits right by the door, which is where you want to start your journey. Since you have list, I encourage going organic: grocery shopping on a budget doesn’t mean you have to get low quality food. In fact, many clients end us saving money for the simple fact that they’re going in with a plan.

When selecting fruits and veggies, make sure that your cart is as colorful as possible. What this means is that there should be different colors of produce in your cart – this is the easiest way to make sure you’re getting a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

You’ll also find meats and seafood on the perimeter of the store. If you’re a meat eater, select a different meat from each animal (one pork product, one chicken, etc). Rotating foods is important, but it’s also important to make sure you’re simply getting raw cuts of meat (no pre made, frozen dinners). Simply bring your proteins have and cook them in bulk to last you 3-4 days.

Lastly, you’ll find the dairy products at the end of your tour. If you consume dairy, then you can purchase butter (actual butter, no margarine or fake substitutes), free range eggs, and full fat yogurts and creams.

Step 2 – Assess what aisles you may need to go down

                There may be some instances in which you have to go down an aisle – seasonings, sauces, some grains, and oils. You can find these items on the outer aisles of the store – the middle of the store usually contains the soda, cookies, boxed cereal, and frozen meals (all of which you want to stay away from). You just have to make sure you’re going down the aisle with your list to get nothing but what’s on the list. But you also have to….

Step 3 – Read the labels!

                For the items that are down the aisles, you’ll have to do some reading on the labels. Here are a few things to keep everything short and sweet:

Avoid anything that has trans fat

Avoid anything that has an ingredient with a ridiculously long name

Avoid these common ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, cararregean, full or partially hydrogenated oils, soy lecithin

Watch out for these labels on the front of a food item: fat free, reduced fat, natural, all natural, fortified with vitamins and minerals, no added sugar, and contains real fruit.

Step 4 – Grocery Shopping on a Budget

                As stated earlier, you can still shop healthy without breaking the bank. What makes the biggest difference is having that list – you’d be surprised how much many you can spend when you’re not prepared. However, you can still save a bit of money by doing some smart shopping. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Farmers Market: A farmers market can allow you to buy free range products and organic produce. It also gives you access to meet local farmers and support a small business. A simple google search will usually allow you to find the day and time for your market. For instance, Northville has its farmers market every Thursday at 7 mile and Center Street

Trader Joe’s- Trader Joes provides organic foods at very reasonable prices. Their business model somehow allows them to get quality products at very good prices.

Better Health Rewards Clubs- Sign up for the rewards club at your local Better Health Market. A simple text message to your phone will get you 15% off your purchase every Wednesday and Saturday, and you’ll be surprised once in a while with a text telling you that you get 20% off for a limited time.

So there you go – your survival guide for saving money and getting healthy when you go grocery shopping. So what are you waiting for? Make your list, assemble your plan, and remember to eat a good meal before you go!


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