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Grocery shopping with a dietitian

As a family, Saturday morning grocery shopping is a ritual for us. I use this opportunity as a time for family bonding and nutrition education for my little ones. As you would imagine, little children are attracted to all colourful food packaging. I find it extremely useful to teach them easy ways to spot healthier food choices for themselves, rather than me deciding on their behalf. Here are my top tips:

1. Always go grocery shopping with a full stomach.

Research (1) has shown that going grocery shopping even after a 5-hours fast, you are more likely to make less-healthy purchases. So if you go grocery shopping when you finish work at 6 pm and your previous meal was lunch at 1 pm, you may want to reconsider an alternative time. An afternoon snack may help break that seemingly short few hours fast.

2. Be ready. Go with a list if you can.

Having a list helps cut down grocery shopping time, reduce impulse buying (oh yes those end of aisle sales looks too good to miss!) and help to stick with a budget. How do come up with such a list? Make a mental note of what dishes you like to serve during the week or next few days. A simple list of a few items to a good place to start.

For vegetables, allow around 2 cups salads AND 1.5-2 cups of red/green/orange/white vegetables (such as broccoli, carrots, pumpkin etc) every day for adults. See the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating here for details.

3. Dietetics 101: Plenty of wholegrain foods, legumes, fruit and vegetables.

You can't go wrong with legumes (fresh or canned), fruit and vegetables in your trolley. Fill your trolley up with different coloured vegetables and fruit. I personally count the number piece of fruit (allow 2 medium pieces per day for each person in the household) so I always have enough.

4. Use the Health Star Rating to help with packaged foods.

The Health Star Rating system is an Australian Government-led initiative (www.healthstarrating.gov.au )Use the Health Star Rating to help compare similar packaged foods. It is a quick, easy and standardised tool using certain nutritional criteria such as saturated fat, sodium, sugars, fibre etc. Ratings are from half to five stars - The more stars, the healthier the choice.

Remember to compare similar foods. For example, between two breakfast cereal products or between two yoghurts. The Health Star Rating is easy to use and my little ones also use them to choose their breakfast cereals.

(1) Journal of American Medical Association. Available online http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1685889. Accessed on 13 June 2017

Sponsored Post: This article is proudly sponsored by The Health Star Rating. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.


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Shirley Chan

Consultant Dietitian 

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Shirley Chan Consultant Dietitian ABN 41 009 192 602