Fit & Happy: Surviving the grocery store

Meredith Nixon - Meredith Nixon

With thousands of food choices out there and numerous name brands to choose from, how do we go about choosing the right foods to provide proper nutrition? Here are some shopping tips for navigating the supermarket and making the most of your grocery shopping experience.

1. Plan Ahead:

You’ll want to have an idea of the meals you plan to eat for the week. A list is vital to keeping your grocery shopping clean and affordable. Keep in mind how much time you have for cooking and food prep, this will determine what type of meals you’re shopping for.  Knowing exactly what you will need will also help keep you away from the food you don’t want! It is too easy to become tempted by the thousands of processed junk food items, to avoid this, only go down the aisles that contain items on your grocery list. You will soon learn that most everything you need is on the perimeters of the store. The aisles tend to be stocked with all the foods we don’t want and need.

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2. Learn to Read Labels:

It is required that all manufacturers list all the ingredients on products. Be aware that the first ingredient listed will usually be the largest amount of any of the ingredients. The second item will be the second largest and so on. Try to avoid any items containing large amounts of the following:  high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial ingredients (coloring, flavoring, etc.), preservatives, saturated Fats, or any other products that are high fat or high sugar ingredients. Large amounts of any of these will only slow down achieving and/or maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle.

3. Know What To Shop for In Each Section of Your Supermarket:

Produce: Since produce does not last very long, buy only the amount you will eat for a few days. Raw vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, are great snacks when boredom sets in and you feel like noshing. Also, freeze fruits like blueberries for when you need a quick little snack fix. However, try not to munch on fruits all day. Many are loaded with natural sugars.

Meat, Fish, Poultry & Eggs: Stock up on sources of high quality protein. Choose the leanest cuts of red meat possible; boneless, skinless chicken and turkey breasts are also excellent options. White meat fish, such as halibut and tilapi, are low in calories and high in protein. Eggs are great but try skipping the yolks, or use a fat free egg substitute. Egg Whites are one of the simplest ands least expensive choices for a high quality protein.

Milk, Cheese & Yogurt: It is certainly important to take in calcium each day; however, too many dairy products can really hinder body fat reduction. Look for varieties low in fat AND sugar and limit your intake. Some manufacturers now make yogurt with as little as 3 grams of sugar. Also, fat free milk, does not mean that it is a good choice. Check the sugar on these labels as well. You will be surprised at the amounts of sugar. I try to stick to less than 2 oz. a day for my coffee.  I prefer to get my calcium by consuming leafy green vegetables and by taking a multi-vitamin.

Frozen Foods: The frozen food aisle is a great place for convenience items.

Unfortunately you’ll see that many of these convenience meals are loaded with artificial preservatives and an unbelievable amount of sodium. Avoid these less than healthy items and instead, look for convenience items such as frozen vegetables, pre-chopped onions and peppers for cooking and even sugar free/fat free frozen popsicles.


Bread, Cereal, Pasta & Rice: Despite past emphasis on low carb diets, eating "good" carbohydrates (known as a complex carbohydrate) is an essential part of a healthy meal plan for both fat reduction and lean muscle gain. Look for unprocessed items, such as steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa and Ezekiel bread. Try and get an equal amount of these “good” carbohydrates from vegetable and grains each day. Avoid bad carbs, such as white flour and sugar.

It’s the perfect time to start eating smart. With the winter and holiday celebrations behind us, think of it as a spring cleaning for not only your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator but more importantly a cleansing for yourself and your body. Not only will you find planning ahead and reading labels will make you a smarter shopper, you’ll soon realize you’re a Fit & Happy shopper! 

This column sponsored by:

Meredith Nixon is a fitness enthusiast with a passion for motivating and inspiring others.

She uses her personal experiences from achieving her own weight loss goals to understand her clients and motivate them to love themselves and to be happy, healthy and fit. She teaches people how to live a healthy lifestyle and keep weight off forever with life changing results both inside and out.

Since 2007 Meredith has been the sole proprietor of her own health clubs. The Fitness Company for Women in Mashpee, The Fitness Company (coed) in East Falmouth , and most recently, FitCo Weight loss & Wellness Center of Cape Cod.

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