You must have a plan! The grocery store can be like a battlefield. Don't be a casualty to the secret bombs that are up and down the aisle! For our first challenge this year to eat 5 handfuls of fruits and vegetables everyday, you will need to stay around the perimeter of the store—most of your essential foods are found there anyway. Think about it: produce, dairy, eggs, meat...
For fruits and vegetables, fresh or frozen is best. Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually picked and frozen at their peak, so the nutrients are locked in. It's a good idea to eat the fresh produce first before it goes bad and then towards the end of the week use what's in your freezer. Canned vegetables can be full of sodium, so if you have to eat them, give them a rinse first. Canned fruit, is usually full of added sugars, so if you have to eat them, buy them canned in their own juice and discard the juice before eating. What about juice? Does that count for my fruit servings? NO.
Before You Go
Before you go grocery shopping, make sure you have had something to eat. When you are hungry everything looks good. Remember the cartoon where they are stranded and they start to see each other as meat, as food? First make a quick list of menu ideas for the week, then make your shopping list. Example: For breakfast this week, I will have either eggs with veggies or yogurt with berries and flax...so my list: eggs, spinach, onion, peppers, tomatoes and yogurt, blueberries, strawberries, ground flax seed. Do the same for lunch, dinner and snacks.
At the Store
Try to stick with what is on your list. If it is not on your list and doesn't contribute to your planned meals, you don't need it!
Okay, now your cart is full and your list is all checked off and you are at the check out. Watch out for the impulse buys at check-out! You have survived the whole maze of the grocery store, your cart is clean, don't blow it up now with a check-out grenade! Maybe a pack of gum for those gum chewers out there, but nothing else!!!
Once You Get Home
Go home and wash and chop your veggies for the week. You should feel proud of yourself, you didn't bring any tempting chips, cookies, candy, etc. home with you! You don't know how many times I hear parents blaming their children, “I buy fruits and vegetables and he/she doesn't eat them, they just go bad.” Really???...well is there other junk in the house to eat? What kid is going to come home from school and grab an apple to snack on when there are Hot Cheetos in the cupboard? The same goes for adults! Don't set yourself up for failure! When you get home after a long day, and you are tired and hungry, if there is junk food in your house, you are going to eat it!
Fruit juice can be okay in small amounts for active people, but for the most part, you are better off eating the whole fruit, which is full of fiber and slows down how fast the natural sugars from the fruit get into the blood. If sugar goes into your blood nice and slow, then your body is able to use it better for energy. For many people, like the overweight children I see, if they drink sugary drinks (soda, Gatorade and yes even 100% fruit juice), and sit around watching TV and playing video games, their triglycerides go up and many times their insulin. They are not burning all the sugar off by running, biking, or playing outside. And your body only has two options for sugar or calories; use it or store it (as fat). Don't get your children used to drinking sweet beverages people. It starts with juice in the bottle and I have actually even seen Kool-Aid and soda in bottles and sippie cups! Babies don't need juice or any other sweet beverage. You are just setting up their taste buds for a battle in their overweight future!!!
So let's Recap:
We made a menu for the week, we made a shopping list from our menu, we didn't go to store hungry, we bought only what was on our list and we came home and started chopping some of the veggies we will need for the week.
Yeah! We are on our way to successfully meeting our first challenge! 5 handfuls of fruits and vegetables a day! You Can Do It!