Today we are going to talk about how to choose healthy food in the shop because, after all, it is in the shop, in the supermarket, in the greengrocer’s, in the fish shop or in the butcher’s where our eating habits begin.
Why? Well, it’s easy: if we buy healthy foods from each of the food groups and then combine them properly, we ensure the necessary intake of all the nutrients. Good eating habits contribute to a balanced and healthy diet and, as we have already seen, in another post, you have to eat well to be happy.
Let’s learn how to make healthy food choices and let’s teach children how to do it. Generating good eating habits in children is one of the best gifts we can give them, since what they internalize when they are young will always remain in their memory. Let’s see how to choose healthy foods in the store so that all family members have a balanced and healthy diet!
Make a list to buy the food
Planning your purchase is critical to making healthy food choices. Take time to prepare a detailed list of the foods you are going to buy, including those you always need to have, and organize the meals of the week including products from all food groups to ensure a balanced diet.
Also, try to go to the store when you are not hungry. Why? Simply because people tend to buy foods with more calories and less nutritional intake when they are hungry, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The ideal is to do the shopping after eating and with a detailed list that includes fruits, vegetables, meats low in saturated fat and cereals. You will see that this way you buy better and spend less by eliminating the compulsive purchase!
How to Read Food Labels Properly
At the time of making a healthy purchase it is necessary that you know how to interpret the labels of the foods. Do you know how to do it? Let’s review together some concepts to know how to choose the healthiest foods for us and our children. An important fact to know is that the ingredients of the products are displayed in lists ordered by weight.
Thus, if sugar appears first, you will know that sugar is the main ingredient of that product. Check the ingredients of the product before you buy it. You should be aware that the nutritional information on labels is based on a serving, not the total weight of the food. Pay attention to this, especially when it comes to sugars, saturated fats and calories; you can only calculate your intake based on the portion you eat.
The daily percentage value provides nutrient information as a percentage of a 2,000 calorie diet designed for an adult with moderate physical activity. In addition, pay attention to nutritional information, not just the energy value measured in calories and kilocalories to verify energy consumption, but also its contribution of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, sugars and sodium.
Within the fats, observe the amount of saturated fats of each food and choose the one that has less because they should not be abused. The same happens with sodium and sugars, important components of the daily diet but in a moderate way. Comparing products is essential to choose the healthiest variant.
If you take two packets of biscuits and see that one shows 2.2g of saturated fat per serving of four biscuits, while the other has 3.4g of saturated fat per serving, you will know that the first product is healthier than the second.
Tips for Buying Healthy Foods at the Store
How to make healthy food choices in the store:
- Choose fresh foods: Teach kids to choose fresh foods, because they contain a greater amount of vitamins and minerals.
- Choose fresh fruits instead of canned food: The latter usually contain preservatives, additives and sweeteners. As we told you on another occasion, there are no good or bad foods, all can be consumed in their proper measure. If you like canned fruits, opt for those in water or juice to the detriment of those in syrup, which provide more sugars to the diet.
- Prefer proximity and seasonal foods: Seasonal fruits and vegetables are super fresh products, harvested at the right point of ripeness and therefore, provide more vitamins, in addition to having more flavor! Although today we can get almost any fruit or vegetable at any time of the year, you should consider that products sold out of season tend to provide less nutritional value and are more expensive. Buying local food not only gets excellent taste and lots of nutrients but also helps the local economy and save, as they tend to have a lower price.
- Avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, they contain trans fats.
- Look carefully at the labels of light products: These are foods reduced in fat or calories but sometimes you can find chemical additives that are better avoided.
- Choose foods made with wheat, rye or multiple whole grains.
- When you can, buy foods with organic certificates, without pesticides or artificial ingredients.
- Choose low fat foods if you have children over 3 years old (semi-skimmed milk, white cheeses). Babies, on the other hand, need whole foods.
- Choose lean proteins such as turkey or chicken, legumes or fish over red meat. Buy the latter to eat in moderation.
- Look for cereals with higher percentages of fibre, opting for wholemeal varieties, and for the best breakfast cereals low in sugar.
- Buy natural tuna instead of oil, to avoid adding fat to the diet.
- Before buying frozen, check the labels to see the amount of preservatives, additives and sweeteners they contain.
- Prefer foods that specify the type of oil they contain. Some indicate vegetable fats, such as palm oil or coconut oil, which are very rich in saturated fats.
- Before you buy, compare two or more similar products and choose the product that has the least amount of additives, preservatives, and colorants.
Teach children about the benefits of food
Play is the best way to teach children, so play with them! Invent riddles, tongue twisters or poems with the benefits of each food and have fun repeating them. For example: “The orange has vitamin C / that cures the cold, I know that / Orange juice I have to take /, so that my nose stops running.
You can teach kids to read food labels and in the store, make a competition to see who discovers the healthiest foods among those you have on the list. And if you have toy foods at home, play grocery shopping to choose the healthiest foods. Buying healthy food in the store is the first step to good eating habits for us and our children.