Grocery Cart Make Over (Just in time for the holidays!)

eat healthierOne of the best ways to eat healthier and avoid weight gain during the holidays this year is to plan weekly trips to the grocery store. That’s right. Go shopping. I suggest you book an appointment for yourself each week (write it in your planner) to go grocery shopping. It’s a simple, yet powerful, way to make sure you are eating foods that are good for you and avoiding foods that are not.

Think of your grocery cart as your gateway to a healthy weight. Follow these tips and watch with pride as your groceries are packed into bags, knowing that you’re taking a positive step to feel better and avoid the holiday weight gain this year.

1. Plan your meals. Use a meal planning template such as this one to develop a weekly meal plan. Sit down and spend some time during the weekend to plan out your meals for the week so you can avoid eating at fast food restaurants or ordering take-out meals at the last minute. It’s easier to nourish yourself and manage your weight when you plan and prepare meals at home more often.

2. Make a list. Make a healthy shopping list at home before you go to the grocery store – and stick to it. Be sure to include nutrient-rich foods from each of the five food groups so you will be eating nutritious, well-balance meals throughout the week. Remember, if it’s not on your list; don’t put it in your grocery cart. This will keep the chips and doughnuts out of the house and out of your mouth.

3. Shop the perimeter. You may have heard this advice before and it’s actually true. The outer aisles of the grocery store are where you will find “whole” foods that have minimal processing: the deli (lean protein and low fat cheese), produce (fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs), bakery (whole grain breads), seafood counter (high omega-3 fish), dairy (low fat milk, cheese and yogurt) and the meat counter (lean poultry). That doesn’t mean, however, that you need to steer clear of the middle aisles all together. The middle aisles contain items such as condiments, crackers, pastas, spices and cereals – some of which are healthy. Read labels to help you decide what to put in your cart.

4. Read labels. As you head down the aisles of the store, spend some time reading labels. In particular, look for high fiber foods that are low in sugar, sodium and saturated or trans-fats. Packaged foods with the fewest ingredients are usually best. For example, choose a cereal that has only a few ingredients such as Nature’s Path Whole-Os Cereal. The more ingredients a packaged product has, the more likely it is to contain additives, preservatives, and refined grains.

5. Splurge on yourself. Sometimes it is worth it to spend a little more to get healthier food such as organic fruits and vegetables. Avoiding harsh chemicals and pesticides whenever possible is a great step towards better health. And yet, it’s not a good idea to get bogged down by the idea that you have to buy organic all the time. Eating vegetables (even if not organic) is better than eating no vegetables at all — especially when it comes to losing weight. To learn more about which fruits and vegetables are best to buy organic, check out The Dirty Dozen.

Now I’d love to hear from you.

What is your biggest challenge at the grocery store?

Please share in the comment section below. Your thoughts could be very helpful to other readers.

Meanwhile, if you need help if you want to lose weight and need help getting started, check out my Free Self-Assessment. Go to,

Image courtesy of Ambro /

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3 Responses to Grocery Cart Make Over (Just in time for the holidays!)

  1. Marina Ballinger says:

    My biggest challenge at the supermarket is to find food that isn’t just a mix of unpronouncable chemicals that I have no idea what affect they have on the body. As the chemicals in food increase, the size of font on the list of ingredients gets smaller so it’s almost illegible. I just want the food I buy to be food, not a chemistry set. My children all had diverse reactions to various chemical additives that we don’t need, from ADHD to mood swings, to blisters around the mouth. Things labelled as healthy are not healthy if they are laced with i.e. aspartame e.t.c. Having to buy organic food is expensive

  2. Marina–I totally understand how you feel! My biggest challenge is that I don’t actually have a list (other than the fact that I know I need milk and the grocery cart ends up with a TON more than milk in it), I don’t plan what I’m going to eat in advance, and typically, I’m hungry when I go (once again–lack of planning coming into play). I end up bringing a bunch of food home and still don’t know what to make for dinner. UGH! I think I’ve figured out a solution for the bad ingredients and not knowing what to make. Now I just need to follow Lorraine’s advice and stick to my list. (:

  3. Nancy Caber says:

    I understand what you both mean. I read once if the ingredients contain something you can’t pronounce don’t buy it. This is helpful for me. It is hard not to get bogged down in this. I find myself not planning before shopping or making a list unless it is an organized meal, like for company etc. This is a great idea to do though. Most of my cart is fruit, veggies and dairy, very little meat, mostly seafood, and chicken. Then when I get it home I just seem to go from there. We don’t have children at home so it is so much easier. I am promising myself I will make an effort at preplanning more. I was starving in the store yesterday and came home with two frozen pizzas, lol!

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