The weight loss journey begins at the grocery store. Just changing how you shop can aid significantly in losing weight and getting healthy. To avoid impulse buying, make a grocery list before each shopping trip and don’t shop while you’re hungry. This will help you plan healthier meals and make smarter decisions at the store. Food labels are also an extremely important tool when trying to make healthier diet decisions. Many people just look at the calorie count on food labels; however, there are several other important factors to review when selecting food items.
First, it is important to take note of the serving size, since this will be your reference point when reviewing the rest of the nutritional information on the label. Fat, protein and carbohydrates are the main calorie-containing elements of food and are important items to review on food labels, as well. When looking at the fat content, you want to choose items with zero trans fats, and keep the saturated fat content low - in the five to seven-gram range per serving. Choosing whole grain carbohydrates or fresh fruit and vegetables are good energy-providing carbohydrates, and help boost your fiber and vitamin intake. Lean protein is best, such as poultry, fish or beans. Sodium and cholesterol content are also important factors to review on food labels, especially for individuals with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease. When buying packaged entrees, aim to keep the per-serving sodium count to below 450 milligrams. It’s also important to look for items that don’t contain a lot of added sugar, opting for natural sugars in fruit instead.
Bottom line, eat real, whole foods and avoid processed foods. Getting your money’s worth in the grocery store should mean getting food with good nutritional value as well as a good deal. Making the right food choices and maintaining a healthy diet can often be an overwhelming process. Fortunately, the exceptional team of registered dietitians at Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center are dedicated to educating individuals and families about reading food labels, making the right choices and controlling portions to get them on track to healthier lifestyles.
Margaret “Maggie” May is the diabetes coordinator at Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center. Maggie is a registered dietitian nurse, and Certified Diabetes Educator. She earned a Master of Science in nursing in 1982 and a Master of Science in nutrition in 1998 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.