If you’ve recently decided to change the way you fuel your body then I’m sure you’ve already asked yourself, “what should I buy when I go to the grocery store?” The truth is, your first trip to the grocery store following your decision to change your lifestyle may be a little bit intimidating because of the abundance of product choices. There are hundreds of thousands of products that use the word “natural” which may confuse you as to whether or not it is a good choice. The true nutritional value of any product can be discovered by familiarizing yourself with the nutrition label (to learn more about how to read the nutrition label, click here).
Now, for those of you who are still a little bit stumped as to what you should add to your grocery list, don’t worry because I’ve got you covered. Today I’ll be sharing with you an example of what a typical trip to the grocery store looks like for me. I’ll share some of my favorite things to keep in stock and explain why they are a great choice to help keep you full and satisfied.
To start off with I’ll start with the macronutrient that everyone seems to worry about and that is protein. The thing about protein is you don’t have to get it solely from an animal to build and repair muscle. Protein exists in plants in the form of incomplete protein and even some that are already complete proteins (soy and quinoa). Incomplete proteins when paired together, can provide all that you need to build strong and lean muscles (to read more on protein, click here). With that being said, I will say that I don’t follow a strictly vegetarian diet because from time to time, I may enjoy a carne asada with my family. On a day-to-day basis, I choose to derive my protein from sources like:
- Canned Beans (pinto, black, kidney, garbanzo)
- Legumes (quinoa, lentils)
- Whole-wheat Products (bread, pasta)
- Soy (soymilk, tofu, tofurky deli slices)
- Brown Rice
- Greek Yogurt
The reason why I include more plant-based protein than animal-based is because of the added benefits of fiber. As I’ve mentioned in almost every single post so far, fiber helps to fill you up more quickly and therefore helps to prevent over-indulging. With that being said, any of these sources are a great way to get in your daily recommended amount of protein while also helping to keep your waist trim. In addition, I emphasize plant-based protein because the average American Diet consists of an excessive amount of animal-based protein which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Tip: Try alternating between your favorite animal proteins and some of these a few times a week to help slim that waistline and to lean out those muscles.
The things I buy from the produce section varies each time I go because I typically buy whatever is on sale and build my menu around that. This is a perfect example of eating healthy without breaking the bank. However, there are also a few staple items that I always try to keep on hand and they include:
Lemons, limes, onions, and garlic are my absolute must-haves because they accent just about every meal and can be used to make salad dressings, marinades, and sauces. Potatoes are always in my pantry because they are cheap, versatile and nutritious. Contrary to popular belief, regular russet potatoes are packed with nutrients. Nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and of course fiber make up this starchy vegetable. Another favorite of mine that has gotten even more attention recently is the humble and delicious mushroom. Mushrooms are jam-packed with important trace minerals such as copper, zinc, magnesium, along with B-vitamins and antioxidants. I use mushrooms in stir-frys, gravy, and even just added to omelets to boost any meal. Similar to mushrooms, both berries and spinach are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I add spinach to wraps, salads, pasta, soup, the possibilities are endless. As for berries, they are a great addition to a parfait, oatmeal, or smoothie.
Keep in mind that you can never go wrong with produce so really any items are great to include. When grocery shopping, I usually try to buy as much fresh produce as I can, but for items that I typically don’t always use I’ll buy from the frozen section.
This section will overlap with some of the items included under protein sources which are actually really great because from one item I am able to get in a healthy serving of carbohydrates and protein. Some of my favorite starchy carbs to include are:
- Brown Rice (I prefer the texture of short-grain)
- Whole Wheat Products (bread, pasta)
- Corn Tortillas
- Legumes (quinoa, lentils)
We’ve talked about carbs so many times because I think so many people are afraid of them and the stigma they have. Trust me when I say that the right types of carbs can do absolute wonders for you and your energy levels. Instead of buying traditional white bread, pasta, flour tortillas, and white rice I try to buy the whole wheat/whole-grain versions of these items instead. Swapping out the traditional flour-enriched carbs for the whole-grain versions is an easy way to reduce your calorie intake and increase your fiber and B-vitamins intake.
I’ve talked about the role healthy fats play in our mental health as well as helping us to feel full and satisfied and so I figured I would talk about some of my favorite types that I typically always have. Some of my preferred fats include:
- Olive Oil
- Nut Butter
- Chia/ Flax Seed
- Coconut milk
Both avocado and peanut butter are my favorites to slather on a piece of whole-wheat toast on the days I need to be out the door quick. It takes little effort and helps me to get my day started off on the right foot. When it comes to cooking my meals, I will typically saute using olive oil. I try to be mindful of how much I am using at a time to avoid over-doing it. Nuts are my go-to as a snack when I feel like I need a pick me up. Nuts are a great source of mono and polyunsaturated fats and also contribute some protein.
My all-time favorite sources of fats are those from chia and/or flax seeds. As I mentioned up above, since I typically don’t eat meat, I usually include chia and flax seeds into my meals to get in my recommended amount of omega-3s. Chia and flax seeds are a great source of omega-3s that are super important for maintaining your mental health. I add them to my oatmeal and smoothies. I also frequently make a chia pudding by soaking them in milk overnight. As for coconut milk, I like to add just the smallest amount to my smoothies to make it creamy and to help me feel full for a longer period of time.
Some other items I like to keep on hand are a few things that I think help me to avoid temptation from the not-so-healthy items. To help combat those cravings a few things I keep on hand are:
- Light-butter Popcorn
- Dark Chocolate Chips
- Flavored Seltzer Water
I don’t usually crave many unhealthy items but for those rare occasions where I want to snack on something crispy, I go for popcorn. Popcorn makes a great snack (as long as it’s not smothered in butter) because you can actually have a pretty good size serving without overloading on calories (2 handfuls is a healthy portion). Snacks like chips are typically higher in fat and calories than popcorn because of the way they are prepared. Because popcorn is popped, it is a lighter and healthier alternative to chips. Another thing I like to have on hand is dark chocolate chips. Dark chocolate chips are so easy to melt and serve with fruit for a healthy dessert alternative. By utilizing a small amount of dark chocolate with your favorite fruit, you can curb that sugar craving without loading up on refined sugar. Plus dark chocolate has antioxidant properties that have been linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (when eaten in moderation).
Last but not least is my latest obsession, flavored seltzer waters. I used to think I hated carbonated water until I tried the flavored options. The flavored seltzer waters have been an absolute game-changer as I have increased my water intake without feeling like it. Whenever I crave the carbonation from sodas, I can count on the carbonation of the seltzer water to help me avoid taking in all those empty calories.
So I know I covered a lot of things today, but the bottom line is that the more natural sources of items you can choose, the better off you’ll be. I hope my typical grocery list helps you to figure out what you can add to yours to help you get on track towards a healthier lifestyle. As I mentioned previously, nutrition is not a one size fits all. It looks different for everyone depending on personal preferences and that is perfectly okay.
Best of luck,