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The secret to supermarket shopping

 If you're like me and no doubt, thousands of adults around the world, shopping is the bane of your existence. For many of my clients there is an added layer of agony that comes with grocery shopping and that is "what should and shouldn't I buy?". Whilst I do not subscribe to the notion of excluding foods or buying tonnes of so called superfoods, there are some really simple tips that I'd love to impart, that will ease your grocery shopping agony.

If you follow this formula, you will leave the shops with your sanity intact, and a trolley full of healthy foods to feed yourself and your family.

Plan, plan, plan!

Before you even think about setting foot outside of your front door, have a plan. Know what you are intending to eat between now and the next time you intend to go shopping and make a shopping list. Either print it out and bring it with a pen to cross items off, or have it on your phone so you can delete items as you put them in your trolley. Whatever system you choose, make sure you use it. Not only will it ensure that you don't forget anything, necessitating a trip back to the supermarket, but you will also be far less likely to be distracted and buy things you don't actually need.

Shop mostly around the outer isles

Around the outer isles is where you will find your fresh foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts, proteins, dairy and wholegrains. Once you enter the inner isles you mostly hit the high sugar, high fat, high salt, low fibre products. There are a few exceptions, which I will get to which will also highlight the importance of making shopping lists. But essentially the foods around the outside should make up the bulk of your purchases.

Don't drink your calories

Honestly, aside from perhaps milk, if it takes your fancy, there really aren't any other drinks you need to fill your trolley with. Juices are not healthier options than soft drink, and soft drink is just a big "NO" from me, without exception. I also wouldn't bother buying bottled water because there is perfectly good water coming out of your taps, that has been fluoridated and has plenty of evidence behind it as having significantly improved our teeth! Besides, think how many few trips you are going to have to do between the car and the kitchen to bring all your shopping inside.

Fibre, fibre fibre!

Most people do not eat enough fibre. We get it from eating fruits and vegetables, legumes and wholegrains. No one wants to talk about him bums and what comes out of them, but I promise you, if you have a high fibre diet, your plumbing will work great, you will feel fuller for longer, you will have lower cholesterol and you will be significantly decreasing your risk of a whole host of diseases like cancer, heart disease, and weight gain. So how do you eat more fibre? There's the fruit and veggies as mentioned above, and I have 2 other tips:

  1. Legumes. You will need to enter the middle isles for these. You can buy them dried or tinned. I always have both handy so when I have time I make my own and when I'm time poor (most of the time) there's an array of tins. 1/2 a cup of these is a serve of veggies and a healthy sized serve of carbohydrates to go with any meal.
  2. Bread. But not just any bread. Turn your loaf over and look at the nutrition label and I want you to focus on two things: carbohydrates and fibre. Pull out your phone and open the calculator. Divide the number of grams of fibre into the number of grams of carbohydrates. You should get a number of 7 or less. The lower the better. Any more than that, put it down and choose another loaf because it is not a real wholegrain product and has a very low fibre content.

Other middle isle foods to look for

Suggesting you stay completely clear of the middle isles would be foolish. This is where your list is important. In the right middle isles you can find some great sources of lean protein and healthy fats like tinned salmon, tinned sardines and so on. You will also find extra virgin olive oil and some of your wholegrain products like brown rice and quinoa. As long as you keep your list handy, its much easier to make a direct trip into these isles without "browsing" shelves of foods you just don't need.

Adding flavour to your meals

You absolutely do not need 99% of the sauces or flavour packets that live in the middle isles. The best ways to add flavour to your food is fresh herbs and spices. So make sure to take a trip past the spices (also in the middle) and collect plenty of fresh herbs from the fresh food isles!

Snacks versus treats

This is where so many of us fall down. Do you know the difference between the two? Lots of foods, like muesli bars for example, say they are healthy but if you take a closer look they are very high in added sugars and very low in protein and good fats, which is the direct opposite of what you want from a snack. You can get most of your snack foods from the outer isles. Think cheese and wholegrain crackers (using the same process as I suggested with bread), think yoghurt, fresh fruit, nuts, legumes. All of these are great snacks you can eat every day and require little to no preparation to eat them. Save the chocolate, musli bars and chips for special occasions if you really want to eat them.


And that my friends, is how I shop. Give it a try and let me know how you go!

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