If you're wanting to start eating healthier, you've come to the right place! Hy-Vee Dietitians have provided 10 tips for how to shop healthier so you can eat better at home.
Hy-Vee Dietitians offer a range of health and nutrition services, sessions and consultations to make your life easier, healthier and happier. Learn more about what a Hy-Vee Dietitian can do for you here, or follow them on Facebook for more health tips.
Don't Skip the Middle Aisles
You may have heard to “only shop the perimeter of the grocery store” — that’s a myth! Many nutrient-dense options are hiding in the middle aisles, including whole grains, shelf-stable proteins, nuts, seeds and beans.
Visualize Your Plate (And Your Cart)
MyPlate is a tool used to visualize the food groups on your plate. One of its main messages is to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. To achieve this, try to reflect this message in your cart and fill your cart like you should fill your plate. Or your grocery list!
Canned Fruits and Vegetables Can Be Healthy, Too
Look for canned fruit packed in its own juices and no-salt-added canned vegetables. Remember — canned fruits and vegetables can be just as healthy as when they're fresh! Once produce is harvested, its vitamin and mineral content decreases daily. However, canned foods are often harvested and processed on the same day, locking in the vitamins and nutrients for many months.
Select Lean Meats
When choosing cuts of meat, shop for beef, poultry and pork to create different meals and add a variety of nutrients to your diet. Look for “loin” or “round” beef and pork and choose 93% lean ground meats. Lean meats reduce calories and saturated fat content to help monitor cholesterol. Plus, remember to balance an animal protein with a plant protein, such as pairing lean ground beef with black beans for taco night. That will help add fiber to a meal and expand the volume of a serving.
Look For Tasty (and Healthy) Veggie Dips
Pair veggies with a tasty dip like hummus, Bolthouse Farms dressings, flavored cottage cheese or Greek yogurt dip. Given their nutritional benefits, veggies are still a better snack option, even if that means putting something flavorful on them. Bolthouse Farms dressings are a dietitian favorite because they are one-third of the calories of a regular creamy dressing, making them a heart-healthy option. They are also delicious!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Your hydration goal should be at least half your body weight in ounces. For example, if someone weighs 200 pounds, they should drink 100 ounces of water (about 12 cups) in one day. Hydration is essential as you increase your fiber intake because it will aid the digestion of high-fiber foods. If you don’t like drinking plain water, there are many healthy options to choose from in the middle aisles.
The Frozen Section Is Your Friend
Frozen foods can be great on nights when you need to whip up a quick dinner or for keeping vegetables on hand that won’t spoil. There are many options in the frozen department to help you make meals easy and more nutritious. We call these meal enhancers — chopped onions and vegetables, frozen fruit or veggie mixes. Meal enhancers take the work out of chopping vegetables, making them easier to add to meals or have as side dishes. Look for the following when shopping:
- Stir fry veggies
- Chopped onions
- Pictsweet roasting vegetables
- Frozen avocado
Choose the Right Milk for You
A spotlight item in the dairy department is milk, and there are many kinds to choose from: cow milk, almond milk, soy milk and oat milk. The main difference between each kind of milk is the calorie and protein content. Cow milk has the highest protein content, and soy milk has the second highest. Almond milk is one of the lowest-calorie milk, although it provides little protein. If you're looking for lactose-free, high-protein, high-calcium milk, try Fairlife ultra-filtered milk.
Spend Time in the HealthMarket
The HealthMarket is a helpful section if you have a food allergy or intolerance. There is a wide range of products to accommodate dairy-free, gluten-free or vegan lifestyles. There's also something else hiding in the HealthMarket: bars! Bars can be a convenient and filling on-the-go snack. When choosing a bar, look at the protein, fiber and sugar contents. Select a bar with low-added sugar and at least 10 grams of protein. (Some bars can have up to 30 grams of sugar, which is more than some candy bars.) And remember, there's a different purpose for all bars — for instance, a higher-calorie bar can be good for weight gain.
Opt for Whole Grains
Whole grains are a prominent source of nutrients, such as B vitamins, fiber, iron, selenium and magnesium. Try to make at least half of the grains you consume whole grain. It is essential to incorporate whole-grain options like popcorn, oatmeal, quinoa and rice into your diet, especially if you are gluten-free. Whole grains contain complex carbohydrates, giving us energy and fiber, which makes them important to include in meals and snacks to provide sustained energy throughout the day. Using whole-grain bread on a sandwich, eating oatmeal for breakfast or snacking on crackers with cheese are simple ways to incorporate whole grains.