Healthy Living

Shopping for Healthy Food? 6 Tips to Help You Make the Best Choices

Stamp-BlackToday marks the end of the Good Food Force’s Healthy New Year Challenge. The theme is “Building Healthy Communities.” One way to do that is to be smart about what is in our supermarkets, and about how we shop!  Food shopping can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you’re like me, and read attempt to understand all the labels. Here are some tips for shopping for healthy food that will help you make great choices at the supermarket. Making smart and healthier choices at the supermarket will also tell supermarket owners that communities want and prefer healthier options!

Healthy groceries

How can you know if the food product you’re looking at is a good option?

Here are 5 questions to help you figure it out:

  1. Does this item have more than five ingredients?  Think about it, all the processed foods have many ingredients. The best foods are those in their more natural state, like fruits and vegetables, eggs. There are healthier options of items that you can find with fewer ingredients. A great example is jam. There are some organic jams that have better ingredients than commercial jams. For example, my favorite jam is Bonne Maman jam. It has five ingredients: strawberries, sugar, cane sugar, concentrated lemon juice and fruit pectin. That’s it.
  1. Could your great-grandmother recognize it? My great-grandmother would definitely not recognize ingredients like “high fructose corn syrup” or “hydrogenated oil” or “potassium sorbiate.” Would yours? IF grannie wouldn’t recognize it, ditch it.

    food label
    photo credit: jazzijava via photopin cc
  2. Can a third grader pronounce all the ingredients? Could a third grader pronounce words like potassium sorbate or disodium inosiate? Who are we kidding? Not even adults can pronounce them! If the food product includes too many of these words, you know it’s not a good thing… put it back on the shelf and run the other way!!
  3. Is sugar one of the first three ingredients? Unfortunately, you don’t JUST have to worry about SUGAR being an ingredient… you have to worry about all the different ways that the food industry calls sugar and sugar products, like “evaporated cane juice” “corn syrup” “fructose” and more… according to Let’s Move there are almost 30 different ways to call sugar (and sugar alternatives) on food labels.
  4. Does this product have a longer than normal shelf life? If the product you’re choosing can be kept in your pantry for a long long time, that probably means it has something (artificial) that allows it to just sit there and not rot; so it’s probably better to pick something with a shorter shelf life. (There is one exception to this rule, organic milk and milk that goes under the UHT process DOES have a longer shelf life than regular milk, that is OK.)
  5. Shop the periphery of the supermarket. It’s where the dairy, meats, fruits and veggies are… the processed food stays in the center aisles (for the most part, be aware of the check-out lanes!)

    supermarket center aisles
    Stay away from the center aisles! photo credit: EYECCD via photopin cc




What other tips do you have to choose healthier food products? 

Share with us!


featured photo credit: via photopin cc

Diana Limongi
Diana a mom, activist, nonprofit professional, podcaster and writer from Queens, NY. She writes about motherhood, activism, raising my multilingual kids, culture and travel. She and her multicultural family live in Queens, NY.

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