February 21st, 2011
Here are some brief tips on navigating your local grocery store aisles.
As with all carbohydrate containing foods, quality counts and portion size rules. Eating whole wheat bread adn other whole grains may lower your risk for heart disease, certain cancers, and even weight gain.
Look past color: Don't be fooled by the color of bread or misleading terminology on packaging. Some refined breads are dark because of additives like molasses, caramel, or other coloring. Go straight to the ingredients to choose breads that identify 100% whole grain wheat or other whole grains (think barley or oats) as their first ingredient.
Find the stamp: Look for the Whole Grain Stamp. Any product bearing this stamp contains at least 8 grams of whole grains. A serving of whole grains is 16 grams. Aim for three servings a day.
Focus on Fiber: Be sure the bread contains at least 2 grams of fiber per slice.
Off the Shelf
Canned and packaged foods are the ultimate in convenience, but traps abound in these aisles, especially regarding sodium. New dietary guidelines suggest adults eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily. A single can of soup may saddle you with more than 1,600 milligrams of sodium.
Bring home the goods: Stock up on canned goods: tuna and chicken packed in water, reduced-sodium vegetables and beans, and fruits in natural juices in case of power outages and other emergencies (like getting home late from work). According to the Canned Food Alliance, canned food lasts two years.
Sauce savvy: Skip the alfredo and other cheesy pasta sauces in favor of lower-fat tomato based sauces. Be aware of servings sizes as alfredo may be half the serving size of a tomato based sauce.
Nab no-salt added: Lower sodium canned vegetables are just as nutritious as their frozen counterparts.
The milk and cheese aisle can be another saturated fat land mine, so always pick fat free or reduced fat options.
Pack a cheesy punch: Add flavor to omelets or salads with small amounts of strong flavored cheesed such as sharp cheddar, feta and parmesan. The more pungent the flavor the less cheese you will need.
Try new yogurt: Go Greek when choosing yogurt. Even the the fat free varieties are thick and creamy. Use plain Greek yogurt to hold chicken salad together.
Spot the right spread: Avoid unhealthy fats by choosing a soft, buttery spread without trans fat and no more than 1 gram of saturated fat. If the label lists partially hydrogenated oils- code for trans fat- put it back on the shelf.
In the meat and deli section zero in on lean choices to limit calories and saturated fat (which is the type linked to heart disease and insulin resistance).
Look for lean: Meats labeled 80 percent lean are 20 perecent fat, and that's too much. Find the leanest cut of beef by choosing those with "round" or "loin" in the name.
Obey ground rules: Don't be fooled by ground turkey. Chicken and turkey are frequently ground with the skin, adding considerably to their fat count. Leave behind any ground meat that isn't at least 90 percent lean.
Skip the skin: Buy only skinless poultry or dump it before or after cooking, to cut out half the fat.
Fish for it: Twice a week, eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Choose salmon, lake or rainbow trout, tuna, or herring.
Prepackaged meals can be useful when trying to lose weight, presumably because of the simplicity and built-in portion control. Be alert for more sodium and fat traps though.
Buy by the numbers: Pick frozen meals with less than 400 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat, and 600 milligrams of sodium, and with a couple of grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein. Match the carbohydrate content to your personal meal plan.
Get picky with pizza: Some frozen pizzas are three servings but look like just one or two- always check the nutrition panel. Buy a veggie pizza or doctor up a plain one for yourself.
Veg out a meal: Before cooking, add frozen vegetables right on top of your frozen meal to make the portion larger and more nutritious. Add vegetables, herbs, leftover brown rice- whatever it takes to round out the meal.
Grab some fruit: Buy frozen berries and other fruits without added sugars to top oatmeal, or puree 1/2 cup to enjoy like sorbet.
Depending on your choices in teh cereal aisle, you can pour yourself a bowl of whole grain, low sugar nutrition or a multicolor sugar bomb- and everything in between.
Turn to the side: Read the ingredients label like you would in the bread aisle.
Opt for oats: Be sure to take home some oatmeal. The fiber in oats may help to lower cholesterol and steady blood glucose levels. Skip the instant to avoid added sugards, flavorings, and salt.
Find a fiber cereal: Choose cereals that provide at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. More is better to make a dent in the recommended 25-38 grams adults should eat daily.
Take note: When comparing cereals, pay attention to the serving size listed. They can range from 1/2 cup to more than one cup.
These tips are dietitian approved and formulated by Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE and found in the Diabetic Living Spring 2011 issue. You should contact your dietitican or doctor with any medical concerns or questions you have related to nutrition and diet.