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Monday, August 10, 2009

Supermarket Ready

So you've decided to follow a healthy diet. Great!

But now what? You're standing in the grocery store faced with countless options. It seems like every product in every aisle is marketed as "healthy."

It can be overwhelming.

Here's a bit of easy-to-remember advice: Stay out of the aisles and shop the perimeter of the store.

The inside aisles tend to hold all of the processed foods that are bad for you. The outside is where you'll find healthier, natural foods.

Now, this doesn't mean you can't purchase anything from the inside aisles. (After all, that is usually where they put the bread.) But, your cart should be filled with more things from the store's exterior than from the store's interior.

For example, fresh lean meats and fresh vegetables are healthier choices than, say, canned meats and canned vegetables. Also, even though the packages of crackers and cookies and breakfast bars promise to be "healthy" or "low calorie" or contain "zero trans fats" it's best to avoid this stuff.

Below, I've put together a sample list of some items to choose at your next grocery store visit.

Vegetables: stock up on any fresh vegetable you like -- except iceberg lettuce and white potatoes. Iceberg lettuce contains very few nutrients. A darker colored lettuce like Romaine is a much better choice. Romaine lettuce compared to iceberg lettuce has more nutrients such as vitamin K, lutein and beta carotene--to name a few. And, white potatoes are high on the glycemic index. Foods that are high on this index are more likely to make you store bodyfat--rather than burn it.

Dark green leaf lettuces
Green beans
Sweet potatoes

Proteins: the key word here is: lean. Skinless chicken is a better option than chicken with skin since the majority of fat is found in the skin. If you opt for red meat, like steak; make sure your selection doesn't have a lot of white marbled fat. Lean ground beef with a ratio of 96/4 (4% fat) is a good choice. Lunch meat tends to be high in sodium, so don’t add this to your diet too regularly. If you find a low-sodium variety of lunch meat, use that.

Skinless chicken
Lean red meats
Ground turkey
Egg whites

Carbohydrates: always choose brown over white. White rice, pastas and breads are sugar based. These sugar based carbohydrates are more likely to get stored in the body as fat. Brown rice, whole grain pastas and breads are better carbohydrate choices because they have more nutrients that your body can use for energy and are not likely to get stored as fat.

Brown rice
Whole wheat pastas
Whole wheat breads
Whole grain cereals

Dairy: opt for light and low-fat versions here to cutout extra calories and fat. Eggs are high in cholesterol, so don’t eat too many. Egg whites are a better choice. Yogurt can have a lot of sugar so make sure you read the nutrition facts. Look for varieties that have 10 grams of sugar or fewer, per serving.

Low- fat milk
Light soy milk
Low-fat cheese
Light or fat-free sour cream
Light or fat-free cream cheese
Low calorie & low sugar yogurts
Egg whites

Grocery shopping for healthier options shouldn’t be a chore. Equipping yourself with information to help you select healthier foods makes the task more enjoyable. Next time you’re due to hit the store, keep these tips in mind and see how much of a breeze your healthy shopping experience can be.

Tiffiany Moore is a certified personal trainer and NANBF figure competitor. Read more at Questions or comments? E-mail

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