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Happy February! We are a month into establishing health goals for the New Year.

What a fabulous time to consider your successes so far and the areas that need shoring up. Perhaps you are finding that the choices that you make at the grocery store could use some help. Here are some tips that you can incorporate into your grocery lifestyle to have nutritious foods at the ready.

Though you many have heard this before, it bears repeating: Be sure you are fueled before heading to your favorite food stop. Being hungry as you navigate the aisles can lead to overbuying and purchasing foods that can be high in salt, sugar, fat and calories. If you are heading to the market on your way home from work, be sure to eat a small protein-rich snack on the way. This will ensure you are staying within your budget and health goals.

Your mother probably prepared a grocery list before heading out the door - a wise habit that is timeless! Cutting coupons and/or adding good deals to your store app can assist you in taking advantage of the cost savings. Taking 8 minutes at the beginning of your week (we talked about this at one of my nutrition classes), plan out your meals and write out the list of ingredients you will need. Time-saving at its best! No more running to the store at the last minute for that item you need.

You've arrived at your favorite market, shopping list in hand (or on phone), so what to put in your cart? Be careful with your selections. Foods that sound healthy like "natural", "organic" and "gluten-free" may not be as healthful as they sound. Often these terms have nebulous definitions and bear some investigating. Gluten-free foods may be more processed that their regular counterparts with potentially less nutrients and more sugar to make up for the lack of gluten. The key here is to look at the rest of the nutrition facts (food) label to review the nutritional quality of the food in question.

Just as you need to be aware of the health claims a product is making, you also should consider the ingredients listed on the package. Consider your health goals: If you are trying to reduce the simple sugar in your diet, look for "hidden" sources of sugar a product may contain before adding it to your shopping basket. The same principle applies if you are limiting saturated and/or trans fats, salt or artificial sweeteners - the list of ingredients a product contains is a very useful guide. Remember, ingredients are listed in order by weight.

Looking for and purchasing nutrient-rich foods take some time, but it is time well spent when considering the health goals you have set for yourself. Calories should be less than 10% from saturated fats and less than 10% from added sugar and more from lean protein, whole grains, fruit and vegetables and healthy fats. Studies have shown that diets high in sugar increase the risk of obesity/overweight, type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. Focusing on your health and the changes you would like to make, taking small, incremental steps can help you achieve the long-term goals of health and vitality.

Please note this article is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health condition. Please check with your doctor before changing your diet, taking supplements or beginning a new exercise/fitness routine.

Copyright HealthStarts2Day 03/2023

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