Have you ever really thought about how and where foods are placed in your supermarket?
There is a reason the candy bars are placed at eye level and right next to the cash register. It’s the spot where you wait in line and are more likely to make an impulsive purchase. Supermarkets are strategically laid out. Fresh foods – fruits, vegetables, deli meats, seafood, dairy, eggs and baked goods all are placed along the perimeter of the market while all processed foods – those that are canned, boxed and have an extended shelf life are placed in the center aisles.
Here are a few tips to make sure you fill it up with the right foods:
- Don’t shop hungry. Easy to grab & go snack foods are conveniently placed all over the supermarket, especially at the checkout counter!
- Start your shopping by walking around the perimeter of the store first. Fill up your cart with fresh foods before venturing in to the center isles.
- As you enter the center of the store, buy only what you need.
- Read ingredient labels (knowing that ingredients are listed by weight) and know the lingo that food companies use to imply that a food is healthier than it actually is.
Here are a few common food label terms to watch out for:
“Lightly-sweetened” does not mean low in sugar. The Food and Drug Administration has regulations concerning the use of “sugar free” and “no added sugars” but nothing governing the claim “lightly sweetened.”
“Cholesterol free” does not mean the food is fat-free. It can still contain up to 2 grams of saturated fat.
“A good source of fiber” can include nontraditional sources of fiber called “isolated fibers” such as polydextrose, but these substances have not been shown to lower blood sugar or cholesterol like natural fibers.
“Strengthens your immune system” sounds like a great choice, but just because a food contains vitamin C doesn’t mean it’s a health food if it’s also loaded with sugar.
“Made with real fruit” can be deceiving as sometimes the amount of added fruit is minimal and not even the same kind of fruit as pictured on the package.
“Made with whole grains” is a popular claim but check how much whole grain versus refined flour is in there. Whole grain should be listed as the first ingredient.
“All natural” can mean anything as there is no regulated definition of this term. But rule of thumb, if you can’t read the ingredient list, it’s probably not “all natural”.