01 Sep Where does a healthy diet start?
A healthy diet often equates to right portions, healthy foods, abstinence from certain other foods and all the nice stuff we dietitians tell you on a daily basis.
The truth, however, is that, while these principles are relatively simple to understand, they’re not that easy to implement. One of the main reasons for that is the fact that we only care about what we eat when we actually start cooking, or even more commonly, when we sit at the table.
By doing so, we miss an integral step to improving what we eat. A healthy diet starts not at the kitchen, neither at the table, but at the grocery shop. So, here’s a few tips about how to improve what you eat, before you even get to cooking it!
- When shopping for groceries, it’s important to have an idea of what you want to buy. This means that a shopping list is your best friend. One of the biggest shopping traps is all the food that you will randomly spot at the store and add to your shopping cart. “Randomly” here isn’t really the right word though, since most supermarkets have their chocolates, the junk food and all the other tasty pleasures on display in very specific sections of the store, like next to the check-out line. That means it’s easier for you to notice and pick them up at the last moment. Believe it or not, product placement in supermarkets is a science!
- When shopping, go for low-sugar and low-fat products. That sounds pretty basic, but most products nowadays have a “light” version as well, so give those a try next time you find yourself at the stores. One important thing to note, however, is that “light” products aren’t always “light”… The term is a popular buzzword, but it isn’t really specific, and it’s usually not regulated by any commercial laws, so always remember to check on the back of the packaging for the nutrition label. If it’s light, it should have less calories, less far and/or less sugar than the original.
- And this brings us to the third tip. Always look at the nutrition label at the back of the packaging. It’s got the contents of the food you’re buying, and it’s actually really simple and useful. Don’t worry about the complicated stuff, just look for the things that concern you. Calories, salt, fat and sugar are the words to look out for. Compare products and find the one that has the least of those. You’ll be surprises by the differences between foods that are supposed to be the same thing
Bonus Tip: If you want to go a little deeper with nutritional labels, aim for a high dietary fibre. Additionally, for fat, aim for high monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, while keeping saturated ones low.
Bonus tip 2: It’s not strictly speaking related to your shopping habits, but try to walk to the shops whenever you go to buy food. Walking is good for your health, your weight and your metabolism, so it’s never too late to turn it into a habit.