The Grocery Store Game

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quest_nutrition_harkins_feb10_sqBy Lisa Harkins, RD, LDN, Owner, Ideal Nutrition and Fitness, LLC

One of the services I offer to my clients is a grocery store tour.

It’s hard enough to know what to eat, let alone navigate the boundless choices at the market, so my experience as a regular person AND a licensed nutritionist enable me to assist individuals with what can be a daunting undertaking. So where does one begin?

First things first, take an inventory.
Before you leave the house, check the cabinets, frig, and pantry to see which foods you need. Next, plan your menus for the week. Knowing what you and your family are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner ahead of time will save you valuable time and money.

Second, bring a list.
That way you will get what you need, and be less apt to purchase items on impulse (which tend to be high in fat, sugar, sodium, and calories). It helps if you organize the list into the different areas of the store (i.e. frozen foods, dairy, produce, canned goods, meats, breads). This is a great way to get the older kids involved by giving them each an area to shop.

Third, don’t shop on an empty stomach.
If you can, eat a meal before you go, or grab a granola bar to munch on the way.

Fourth, shop around the perimeter of the store.
Foods in the center of the store tend to be more processed then those items found on the outer aisles, such as fruits and veggies, dairy, fresh meats, fish, and seafood.

Fifth, don’t forgo frozen!
It can be even fresher than fresh. Frozen fruits and veggies are harvested at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen to seal in nutrients. Fresh can be exposed to less than ideal handling, shipping and storage conditions, and can lose additional nutrients while exposed to light on grocery store shelves.

Sixth, contrary to popular belief, canned goods can be good!
Don’t be afraid to use canned beans, veggies, and tomato sauce. Just rinse beans and veggies in a colander to remove up to 40% of the sodium, and look for low sodium or no-added salt items.

Lastly, bring your smart phone along for the ride.

There are some great apps that can help you save money, eat healthier, and more! Some of my favorites include “ShopWell”, an app that lets you customize your food selections based on your gender, age, activity level, like and dislikes, allergies and intolerances, specific nutrients you prefer, and additives you don’t. With “Fooducate”, just scan a product’s bar code with your iPhone, and this app will give you the item’s “grade” (“A” for excellent, “F” for put it back on the shelf!), calories per servings, and quick hits on the product’s pros and cons. “GoodFoodNearYou” allows Android users to find healthy food when they are on the go by using GPS technology; the app identifies your location, and then presents you with the healthiest selections from menus at nearby restaurants.

Lisa Harkins is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Ideal Nutrition and Fitness. She consults for Quest Fitness located in the Village of Five Points in Lewes. Quest Fitness is a full-service fitness facility offering personal training, fitness classes, spinning, yoga, pilates, nutritional counseling, youth camps, and seasonal kayak tours, rentals and sales.

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Lisa Harkins, RD, LDN

Ideal Nutrition and Fitness LLC

P.O. Box 684, Lewes, DE 19958

Phone: 302-388-2856

Email: [email protected]

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