Learn tips for food shopping and decoding package labels. You’ll gain the knowledge you need to make quick, informed food choices that contribute to your healthy eating plan.
Tips for healthy food shopping
Making healthy choices when navigating through grocery stores and convenience markets can be difficult. Use these helpful tips to make food shopping easier, healthier, and better for balancing your diabetes.
- Make a shopping list to control impulse buying. A prepared list will help you stick to your healthy eating plan and not forget items you need. If you use coupons, write your list on an envelope and put the coupons in it. Only buy things that aren’t on the list when they are truly a bargain.
- Shop only once a week when you are not hungry. The more you go to the store, the more food you will buy. Shop alone if family members push you to buy things you do not need.
- Go to stores you know. Group food on your shopping list according to store departments. You will shop more quickly. The longer you stay in a store the more you will buy.
- Read food labels. Reading labels before heading to the supermarket can help you make wise food choices. Most packaged foods in grocery stores and convenient markets list nutrition information. (See callout section below for more information.)
- Build menus around foods you already have. If your favorite recipes are not very nutritious, change them to cut the fat, sodium, and sugar. Try 1 new recipe per week. Look for simple recipes with few ingredients.
- Consider how the meals will look. Choose foods that are different in color, texture, flavor, shape, size, and temperature. A meal that is all one color or all one texture is less appetizing.
- Look for store specials in the newspaper. Buy what is in season to save money. Use coupons only if they are for products you normally buy or that fit into your meal plan. Often coupons are for expensive national brands. A store brand or a fresh product may be a better buy.
- Plan meals for the whole family. Your healthy eating plan is what everyone should eat. It is well balanced and nutritious. You don’t need to make yourself separate meals because you have diabetes.
- Shop your local farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets provide access to locally grown, fresh produce. Plus, because they are filled with flavorful fruits and vegetables, you won’t be faced with unhealthy temptations.
Understanding package labels
Nutrition labels may seem a little complicated at first. But they offer essential information that can help people with diabetes make better food choices to control blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight. Use the package label guide below to better understand what a nutrition label means for you and your meal plan.
Look here to see what a serving of food adds to your daily calorie total. A person’s size and activity level help determine total calories needed per day. For example, a 138-lb active woman needs about 2,000 calories each day, while a 160-lb active woman needs about 2,300.
Other Terms You May See on Packages:
Reduced—This means that the product has been nutritionally altered so that it now contains 25% less of a specific nutrient, such as fat, calories, sugar, or sodium.
Free—This means that the product contains none or almost none of the specified nutrient. For example, sugar-free foods have less than 0.5 gram of sugar per serving. However, sugar-free does not mean carbohydrate-free. Compare the total carbohydrate content of a sugar-free food with that of the standard product. If there is a big difference in carbohydrate content between the 2 foods, buy the sugar-free food.