By Heather Lang
Special to the Colchester Weekly News
March is Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is Best Food Forward: Plan, Shop, Cook, Enjoy!
Healthy eating starts with the choices you make at the grocery store. Selecting healthy ingredients that are easy to prepare makes healthy eating a breeze. Here are some practical tips help you put healthy food on the table:
> Make a list
You can save time and money by writing down the things you need to buy. Look through the flyers for deals and stock up on necessary items while they are on sale. Wandering the aisles is time consuming and you often get home with a cart load of things you don’t need and have to go back to the store for the items you do. Staying focused on the list may also keep you from wandering down the treat aisle.
> Don’t shop hungry
An empty stomach is always bound to lead to a cart full of unnecessary snacks and drinks.
> Shop the perimeter
Start in the produce aisle and stock up on seasonal vegetables, then move on to the bakery and grab some whole grains, next the meat department where you can pick out lean cuts of meat, then pick up eggs and dairy. Up next is the freezer where you can grab some frozen veggies- they are always good to have on hand. Now head through the aisles and pick up the things you need to stock up on like cereal, canned legumes/vegetables, cooking oils, flour, etc. Always check for products that have whole grains, no added salt and are limited in added sugars.
> Read labels
It is important to know how to read a label and any dietitian can teach you. Start by reading the ingredient list. You should be able to pronounce the words. Now check the serving size on the nutrition facts label and find products without excessive amounts of calorie, fat, sugar, or sodium.
> Save money, skip the meat
Protein is important at meals and snacks, but meat can get expensive. Try meatless meals a few times a week by substituting with eggs, lentils, beans, chickpeas or other legumes. Canned legumes are convenient. You can purchase them without added salt or rinse regular canned versions.
> Take a cooking class
Many grocery stores offer healthy cooking classes with great tips and ideas for preparing healthy meals. Purchasing a healthy cookbook or searching for healthy recipes on the Internet can also be a great tool.
Nutrition Month is a great time to get motivated and start making small maintainable changes to your eating habits. The best place to start is right at the grocery store. If you feel overwhelmed trying to make the right choices Ask for help. Any dietitian would be happy to help you. They are your go-to source and are regulated health care professionals trained to give you the best advice about food and nutrition. Ask one to take you on a tour of your local grocery store and help take the guesswork out of healthy eating.
Heather Lang is a professional dietician. She lives in North River and welcomes ideas for future columns. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.