Do you find going to the supermarket can be a minefield? Trying to avoid the chocolate aisle or the biscuit section, then attempting to work out whether the ‘low fat’ alternative of something is any healthier than the original version?
There are so many different labels on food telling us about calories, fat, saturated fats, sugars and no added sugars. It’s no wonder so many of us make such bad decisions when there are so many conflicting messages when we’re out shopping.
For example, low fat does not always mean healthier, in fact a lot of low fat options are packed with added sugar, meaning lots of calories and little nutritional value. It’s these 'free-sugars' that we need to avoid because they cause weight gain and dangerous spikes in blood sugar levels. Identifying the added sugar part is not always easy either, you have to read the nutritional labels on the back of the product quite carefully to work it out.
Often to be completely aware of what you are consuming, it’s easier to plan and cook your meals from scratch. It doesn’t always have to be a chore if you are not confident in the kitchen, you just need a good inventory of ingredients in your cupboard and a handful of recipes to get you started.
Try these tips to help make healthy shopping a little less stressful:
1. A weekly meal plan
This may sound like a bit of a hassle to do every week, but when you start incorporating it into your weekly routine every Sunday night, it quickly becomes a habit and it helps plan out your shopping list too.
2. Embrace wholegrains and beans!
Stock your cupboards with grains such as brown rice, lentils, quinoa and beans such as chickpeas, kidney beans, butterbeans. Grains help bulk out a meal and are full of slow-releasing energy which leaves you feeling full and satisfied. For example, you could add some lentils to a shepherd’s pie and halve the amount of mince you use. This helps reduce your red meat intake without sacrificing flavour and, if you are cooking for a family, it’s really cost effective too!
3. Explore the ethnic aisle.
You can find all sorts of different foods down the ‘world foods’ aisle including your everyday items such as tinned tomatoes, coconut oil and spices. What's more, you will actually find some items are cheaper than the more well-known brands. Stock up on spices and herbs such as paprika, cumin and coriander to give your recipes a kick. Also, make sure you have plenty of things like passata (seieved tomatoes) and tinned chopped tomatoes in your cupboards for a super healthy sauce that can be used for all sorts of things including courgetti bolognese.
4. Buy frozen, or buy fresh when in season and freeze yourself.
Don’t be afraid to stock up on the veg you like when it’s in season and freeze it, or buy your veg already frozen. All the nutrition is still there, plus you can even buy things like ginger, garlic and herbs already frozen which you can throw into stirfrys and casseroles for added flavour. Look out for berries when they are in season such as rhubarb (May) and strawberries (July) and freeze them in batches so you can add to them to healthy puddings and smoothies/juices.
5.Use your leftovers!
If you have lots of chicken leftover from a Sunday lunch don’t be afraid to throw it into a stirfry the next day or add to a tin of chopped tomatoes and make a vegetable stew or soup with some beans or lentils for a satisfying meal.
If you like something sweet in the evenings consider looking at the different nut butters you can buy in the supermarkets that have no added sugars, such as almond, and dried fruits such as dates are great for a sweet tooth. There are so many different recipes you can follow to create healthier versions out there of some of your favourite puddings.
At Limitless Life personal training we not only support your fitness but we help create a nutritional plan to suit your individual goals, so don’t be afraid to get in touch and find out how we can help you achieve your health and fitness ambitions.