My ideal style of eating to promote health and wellness is that of whole foods, home made as much as possible and very limited processed packaged foods.
I was asked by one of my clients recently for snack and lunch ideas that could be purchased from the supermarket, pretty much ready to go (with limited prep) and that is healthy.
Here’s the scenario: It’s Monday morning. You just had a family camping trip away and your cupboard is empty. You have no lunch or snacks prepared at home for the week ahead. You decided you will go the shops at lunch and pick something up for the day.
So Here are my 7 tips for battling the Supermarket to find the healthy option.
- Go to the supermarket in the morning not at lunchtime: I know in the city, lunch time at a supermarket is a busy, mad rush of people. Your stomach is growling and this will lead to a quick food decision that might not be the best option for your health. Avoid this situation by going in the morning.
- Have a plan: take a shopping list of the foods you need to buy to make up your snacks and lunch. This way you know what you’re going to be eating and if you stick to your list you will avoid unnecessary purchases.
- Choose foods that are in the most whole food state as possible: A great place for this is the fresh produce section of the supermarket. You can’t get anymore whole food than that. Great examples of whole foods are vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. So ask yourself what vegetables are pretty much ready to consume? Can I make a meal from this? Could I add a tin of salmon or tuna for protein? Snack on a carrot, cucumber or fruit? Add nuts and seeds to salads or as a snack.
- Learn to read food labels: Understanding how a food label works will help to identify what foods to stay away from. Even just the basics of reading what ingredients the product is made up of is an important practice to get into. If the food product contains chemicals and numbers, is this something you want to be consuming? And remember that the ingredients are listed from highest to lowest in weight. If the first few ingredients are sugar, sodium or saturated fat ask yourself is this a food you want to be consuming? Check out this handout on Reading_food_labels to get you started.
- Take your time: You may be busy and not have much time but do your best to slow down your decision making and not rush your food choice.
- Don’t fall for the health claims: It is easy to be bombarded with words such as “organic”, “gluten free”, “natural”, “low fat”, “no added sugars”. But, these statements don’t necessarily make that food a healthy option. This is where learning to read food labels will help sort the health claims from the truth. And just because it’s in the health food isle doesn’t mean it is the healthiest option.
- Don’t be hard on yourself: Make the best choice that you can and don’t let it overwhelm you. You have the power to make the best choice for yourself at that moment.