Healthy Eating Tips- Grocery Shopping

At work I was asked to give a seminar on “How to Read a Nutrition Label” during our Wellbeing Week! I will be covering nutrition basics as well as how to read nutrition labels. I was touched that they asked little ole me, but I’m nervous like a toddler who just got promoted from diapers to undies. i might need those diapers…


You may wonder why the heck they asked a young kid working for the Infectious Diseases department? I actually graduated from UC Berkeley with a BS in Nutritional Science, with a specialization in physiology and metabolism. Yeah, it’s a mouthful. One of the coordinators for this Wellbeing Week knew this, and well, I’m cheaper than their original plan of hiring an R.D. from Kaiser…in that I’m free…


I’m not only passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, but about educating others as well! I don’t think we are taught enough about nutrition and healthy living in schools, so many adults don’t know the basics.

So, I will eventually post some of the information from my presentation, but I was also asked to write a mini article that will be sent out sometime before my seminar. It is on planning a healthy diet while grocery shopping. Here are some of my tips!

Don’t grocery shop while hungry

You may be lucky and have the self-control of an Olympic athlete, but most of us are more likely to purchase unnecessary items when we go to the grocery store while hungry.

I die
No one needs this many macarons. Eh who am I kidding, EVERYONE needs this many macarons.

There are studies that show hungry people, on average, purchase higher calorie products than when they had shopped after eating.

Go to the grocery store with a set list of items and STICK to the list

We tend to buy our unhealthy items as a spur of the moment purchase. Most of us following healthy lifestyles don’t write down “cookies and candy” on our shopping lists. These unhealthy items are usually thrown into the cart while we are grabbing something we actually need.

These beautiful bastards
Like these beautiful bastards

They catch our eye and before you know it, we’re eating a box of chocolate chip cookies. It’s much easier to avoid temptation if you do NOT bring it into your home! Plus, sticking to your list will help you save money.

Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store as much as possible

Most grocery stores have produce, dairy, and meats along the outside edge of the store. More processed foods tend to be in these inner aisles.


Yes, butter is usually along the perimeter. No, I am not saying copious amounts of butter should be consumed as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Unless you want to live like Paula Deen, who is clearly a model citizen. sarcasm people, sense the sarcasm. Remember this is a general guideline that requires good judgment and every grocery store will vary in their product placement.

Avoid product placement traps

This one can be difficult, especially when shopping with kids. Have you ever noticed that the majority of sugary “kid” cereals are at a kid’s eye level, while healthier cereal options are on the top shelves?


This is an intentional trap that attempts to lure kids into wanting those colorful boxes of diabetes inducing breakfasts. But product placement doesn’t just lure kids! Watch out for items intentionally placed in a location conducive to spur of the moment grabbing.

Be cautious of enticing claims on packaging

Nutrient claims on packages can be incredibly misleading! Don’t buy an item just because the box yells at you in an attractive font, “contains whole grain” or “low fat.”


Just because something contains whole grain, does NOT necessarily make it healthy. Also, “low fat” just means that the product has less than 3 grams of fat per serving. Always read the ingredients, and purchase items based on your needs, not based on advertising. Here are some examples of claims that follow FDA definitions, but can be very misleading:


Must be:

“Good source of” 10-19% of the daily value (DV)
“Kcalorie-free” < 5 kcals
“Fat-free” < 0.5 g fat
“Trans fat-free” < 0.5 g trans fat & < 0.5 g saturated fat
“Sugar free” < 0.5 g sugar

Remember you are only human and we all make mistakes

Telling yourself that certain foods are off limits can set you up for failure! By drawing a lot of attention to these foods that you must NOT touch, you can cause yourself to crave these items even more than before. Allow yourself an occasional (small) indulgence can eliminate binge eating (which only leads to decreased self-esteem). I’m not saying to celebrate the end of the work week with a cookie the size of your face, but it’s ok to have a small slice of cake when celebrating your friend’s birthday.

Or the whole cake. i didn’t just say that…

I hope some of these tips were helpful, or at least helped you get back on track!

Have a great Tuesday! And just think, after today the week is already half way over 🙂


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