One of the most useful parts of understanding how to eat for health is getting to grips with the importance of planning ahead. This doesn’t mean you need to run your house like a military operation, it simply means that you need to put a little bit of thought in a few days in advance.
One way to start living a healthier life is get your shopping list in order!
Most of us by the same things week-in and week-out. Whether we are shopping online of by foot! So, pens and paper at the ready and have a quick read of the information below and then make a list that takes into account the healthy eating principles, your daily requirements and your family’s taste buds!
Then try sticking to the list as closely as you can when you go shopping…and remember, NEVER go shopping on an empty stomach!
A healthy food list is essential to creating a quality healthy meal plan. It is also a good tool for stocking your pantry and cabinets with quality wholesome foods. Most importantly, it is a good tool to keep your costs down and to stay focused on purchasing the items you actually need once you are at the supermarket.
When at the food shopping destination of your choice, there are a few things to look for. The first thing to remember when shopping for food is to read the ingredients on the back, not the marketing on the front. Many foods make claims to be “All Natural”, “Organic”, “Light”, and “Reduced Fat”. Those terms can mean so many things, which is why it is important to look at the nutrition label for the actual ingredients. Things to look for include hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrups, and other added sugars. These are some of the ingredients to avoid or keep to a minimum. They can be found in anything from breakfast cereals to salad dressings, since they are used as preservatives to prolong the shelf life of these products.
So what should you be looking for?
Fruits and vegetables make up an essential part of a healthy food list. There may be debates about which fruits and vegetables are better for you. However you just cannot go wrong if these types of food are a predominant part of your daily eating habits. No matter which ones you choose. The longest time in your supermarket should be spent in the fresh produce aisles!
Sometimes, for convenience it can be useful to buy canned vegetables and fruits. In the case of canned vegetables, make sure they are not treated with lots of chemical and look at the sodium (salt) content. A good idea when using canned vegetables is to rinse them off once removing them from their container. These same rules apply for frozen vegetables, in order to reduce the amount of additives actually being consumed. When looking at canned and frozen fruits, it is good to find the ones that are in an unsweetened fruit juice. This is a better option as opposed to the many varieties processed in sugars and syrup.
Included in this section should be your fresh fruit juices. There are some amazing flavours on the market now so be adventurous but be sure you don’t buy juices with any added extras! Fresh fruit juice contains fresh vitamins but it also contains sugar. So I suggest you allow yourself one glass of fruit juice per day to count as one of your 5 a day, and then extra glasses should count as a sugary treat.
Various types of fish, seafood and poultry are ideal choices to add to your healthy food list. Always try to buy in their most natural state – so processed chicken in breadcrumbs is a no-no! I do advocate eating a little red meat – but always buy lean cuts and remove any visible fat and limit this to once or twice a week with a hefty portions of veggies on the side!
Fish is a wonderfully nutritious addition to your list. Prawns are great, as you do not absorb the cholesterol that they contain. I suggest you buy whatever is on offer at the time to keep the cost down and plan your recipes accordingly.
Quality dairy products can provide much needed calcium as well as protein. They are definitely something that should be included on your healthy food list. Many dairy foods contain high amounts of saturated fats, so that is something to be aware of. Some of the suggested items to purchase include Low-fat Milk
Low-fat Plain Yogurt
Low-fat Greek Yogurt
Low –fat Crème Fraish
Low-fat Cottage Cheese
It is good to limit or avoid cheeses that are processed and shredded or made into string! Many of these have additives that take away from the true health benefits that cheese can provide. Yogurt is another popular dairy food that can be a nutritional pitfall due to the added sugar content. So try to avoid yogurts that are ready sweetened and add your own fruit to plain low-fat yogurts.
Bread is a constant part of our daily eating habits. Whether we are making a sandwich at home, or nibbling on the basket of bread while waiting for the main course at a restaurant. Bread is all around us. Despite the negative publicity it gets at times, there is room for bread to be incorporated on a healthy food list. It is important to know that not all bread is created equally. When shopping for bread, look for the ones labelled:
100% Whole Grain, 100% Stone Ground Whole Wheat, Stone Ground Whole Grain, or made from Sprouted Grains. Breads just labelled as wheat or multi-grain look brown but are not nearly as loaded with fibre and protein as true “whole grain” breads.
When it comes to grains the following should make the list:
Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
Steel-Cut (Irish) Oatmeal
Any of these ingredients can be used in side dishes with dinner, eaten as breakfast, or used to top a salad for lunch. Most of them (excluding the oatmeal) can be used as a healthy replacement in a standard rice dish. Also note that more grocery stores are stocking flour made from these whole grains. These whole grain flours are a healthier alternative to the standard refined all-purpose flour. Do not hesitate to add these to your healthy food list.
Think beyond the old fashioned ‘hippy’ lentil stew and enter a world of delicious healthy dishes that tick all the boxes. It is hard to go wrong when you choose which beans (legumes) or pulses to include in your healthy food list. They are another great source of fibre and come in many varieties.
Soy (endamame) Beans
Many of these, soybeans in particular, are also a quality source of protein. Buying them fresh or dried is the ideal way to buy beans. Canned beans can be used too, since they are a convenient way to incorporate legumes in our meals on a daily basis. When using these canned beans it is recommended that they are rinsed thoroughly once they are drained and removed from the can. This removes a lot of the excess salt that is used when they are packed in the can.
There are so many oils to choose from, but which one do you include on your healthy food list? For starters, you want to look at the oils that are labelled “Extra Virgin”, “Cold Pressed”, or “Unrefined”. The less processed an oil is, the better it will be for you. Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Peanut Oil, Sesame Oil, Walnut Oil are all good examples of what should be used in our kitchen. Whether you are cooking with it, using it as a marinade, or whipping up your own salad dressing. These are all oils that would be considered healthy ingredients.
When selecting nuts, it is best to purchase the ones in or near the produce section vs. the ones in the snack aisle. The canned nuts found in the snack aisle are usually processed with hydrogenated oils (trans fats), which add unhealthy oils to otherwise healthy nuts. Raw or roasted nuts such as Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Peanuts, Pecans, Pistachios, Pumpkin Seeds, and Sunflower Seeds are all quality additions to your healthy food list.
Condiments are often used to enhance the flavours of the food we eat. Changing to a healthy eating lifestyle does not mean you need to avoid condiments altogether. There are certain ones that have additives and sugars that should be avoided. That still leaves plenty to choose from. In addition to enhancing flavours, condiments can also speed up the body’s metabolism as well as improve the digestion process.
So, feel free to add to your list:
Low-salt Soy Sauce
Vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, red wine, rice wine) .
So why not make a start today. Open up your food cupboard door and have a look at what you’ve got in there. Do you have anything from the healthy shopping list or could you make better choices on your next shop?