- Don't go hungry! Do not -- EVER -- go grocery shopping hungry.
- Stick to the outside! The freshest, healthiest ingredients are located around the outside of the grocery store. Try to stick to the outside and avoid the center aisles in order to avoid impulse food purchases.
- Check out that beee-hind! Always check the nutritional information. If nothing else, it will help deter you from things you shouldn't be buying. Keep in mind that many foods which are labeled "low calorie" or "low fat" often compensate for the lack of flavor by overloading on sodium. Watch out for that! Other things to keep in mind: Check the serving sizes! If a can of soup says it's only 100 calories but the can includes 3 "servings," it's really a 300 calorie can of soup!
- Skip the junk! Junk in the can = junk in the trunk. Avoid sugary cereals, white breads and pastas, junky desserts like cookies, and junky snacks like chips.
- No more soda! Just don't do it. If you're addicted, try switching to another carbonated beverage (no, not beer!). La Croix has a number of flavored carbonated waters that are delicious (favorites = Coconut, Lemon).
Before you head to the store:
Check out (and print out!) this guide to reading nutrition labels! The "skinny" on nutrition labels, so to speak, follows:
- Protein Powder - If you're working out and/or trying to lose weight, protein powder is absolutely essential. It can be used as a post-workout supplement and as a meal replacement shake. I use a whey protein powder.
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts - A great way to get lean protein, plus you can easily cook ahead and store cooked chicken in your fridge or uncooked chicken in your freezer for a while.
- Eggs - I typically use eggbeaters eggwhites, as most of the calories, fat, and cholesterol in an egg come from the yolk. If you'd prefer whole eggs instead of eggbeaters, try to remove at least half of the yolks while cooking.
- Plain 0% Fat Greek Yogurt - Can be used in cooking, as a base for dips, or eaten with oatmeal or fruit.
- Low-Calorie Cheese Sticks - I have found a 60 calorie Cheddar Cheese Stick to be my favorite. Sometimes you just need a quick snack.
- Quinoa - The grain of the champions, Quinoa is extremely versatile and includes a high amount of protein.
- Oatmeal - Similarly built for champions, Oatmeal will fill you up and create a "slow burn," keeping you full for hours until your next meal.
Fruits (hydration and healthy sugars)
- Lemons (for water)
Veggies (hydration and fibers)
- Spinach - Spinach has much more nutrition than iceberg lettuce, so it is a better Salad base. It is also great in eggs, Quinoa, and dips.
- Celery - The crunch of Celery is an amazing swap for crackers or chips when digging into a dip like hummus or a dip made using greek yogurt. There are almost zero calories in Celery so you can fill up without guilt.
- Onions - a great way to season savory dishes (like Quinoa, eggs, salads, chicken...) without adding salt or butter.
- Chick Peas
- Beans - Black beans, Kidney Beans, etc... Find your favorite variety. Just make sure to look for low sodium variations, as some canned beans come doused in salt.
- Peanut Butter - Choose Natural Peanut Butter (JIF makes a good one that doesn't require refrigeration). Almond butter is lower calorie. Cashew butter is lowest calorie.
- Olive Oil - Great for cooking!
- Nuts - great for adding to oatmeal, yogurt, or salads. Choose your favorite nuts, but make sure they're not loaded with additional salt. Look for natural almonds, walnuts, pralines, etc.
- Cayenne Pepper
- Balsamic Vinegar