Congratulations! You’ve finally made the decision to trim those extra pounds and keep yourself fit. That in itself is an accomplishment… But now what? This is the point where many people become lost. All dieting resources give us strict guidelines to follow when deciding on what to eat, but then they leave us in the dark when we need to decide on what to buy! By following a few simple suggestions, you can ensure that the food you keep in your home works with you to make the commitment you’ve made to yourself as effective as possible.
Rethink your Ratios: Remember that food pyramid that was always hung up in the school cafeteria that everyone knew about but no one really paid attention to? It actually provides a wealth of information that’s important to keep in mind when shopping. For instance, the average American eats much more meat than the human body needs to remain healthy (without eating supplemental alternatives). A human being only needs to eat meat a few times each week to maintain their health. Aim to eat more vegetables and fruits than you do meat.
Make sure a decent percentage of your diet is some form of carbohydrate (bread/pasta/rice/cereal). These items help keep your hunger down while also giving you long-lasting energy. Simple sugars, on the other hand, merely give you a rush of energy and quickly wear off, and are much less healthy. They also encourage you to eat more because they aren’t as filling.
Make a List: Making a list before you enter the grocery store will encourage you to stick to it. Not making a list could lead you to succumb to the temptations managers strategically place throughout their store. Unless something is on your list before you enter the store, do not buy it! Make your list according to the guidelines outlined above, and never go food shopping when hungry.
Learn the Dieting Language: Most products list their nutritional information in an extremely accessible area on the outside package. As a rule of thumb, products high in fat, sodium, sugar, and calories are a bad idea. When trying to choose several brands of the same item, always choose the alternative with the least of these. Avoid processed food and preservatives. Finding a brand without these will ensure a fresher, healthier product.
When purchasing grain products (such as pasta, cereal, and bread), make the choice to buy the whole grain version whenever possible. This is much better for you than products made of processed flour. When buying produce, keep an eye out for locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Not only are these usually much fresher than the other alternatives, but buying them will also support your local economy. Try your best to find produce grown without pesticides (companies will often proudly label their products this way, so it’s hard to miss). When shopping for dairy (such as milk, butter, and cheese), aim for the least fattening versions.
Limit the Snacks: Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you have to give up every single snack you used to eat. Instead of trying to expect yourself to give up snacking entirely, limit yourself to a certain amount of snacks each time you go. If you only go grocery shopping every few weeks, limit yourself to only one or two snacks each time. Make it a reward for keeping your commitment, and do your best to make it last throughout the entire time you are on your diet. Whenever possible, be sure to find more nutritional versions of the snacks you love. Are you a big fan of potato trips? Try baked ones instead of fried. If you are a fan of baked goods, avoid ones made with processed food or preservatives. Instead, buy fresh ingredients to make your own.
Stick to It: Even if at some points it feels as though it’s an impossible commitment to keep, don’t give up on it! With enough practice at following these guidelines, they will soon become habitual to you. You won’t even need to follow rules; you will simply be attuned to shopping this way all of the time!