When you're trying to manage your autoimmune inflammation (aka: flares) and lose weight, the grocery store can seem like your worst enemy. All those tempting treats and indulgent snacks!
It can be your best friend or a garden of temptation. The way you shop and the foods you select make a big difference in your autoimmune journey.
Change the Way You Shop for Groceries:
1. Never Shop Hungry. Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is like trying to take a selfie while driving—you'll probably end up crashing and burning. Shopping on a full stomach makes it easier to stay focused on your wellness goals and resist tearing into a box of cookies on the drive home.
2. Shop Your Pantry and Freezer First. When was the last time you took inventory of what’s REALLY in your pantry and freezer? Make a list of those items and what needs to be eaten first. Tossing anything that’s expired, freezer burned, or otherwise past it’s prime.
3. Plan Your Meals. After you’ve got your pantry and freezer list ready, build your weekly meal plan. What healthy breakfasts, lunch, and dinners do you want this week? Don’t forget to plan for healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, and veggies to help curb cravings.
4. Make a list. I like to keep my grocery list on my phone that way it’s always with me. And if it’s been a busier weekend and I didn’t have a chance to meal plan, then at least I know I have a past list or two to use! Having a list to refer to will help you remember to get the essentials for keeping your healthy kitchen stocked.
5. Read the labels. Hidden salt, saturated fats, and added sugars lurk in many products. Just remember that there is no standard serving size. The FDA leaves that up to the food producer and many use smaller serving sizes then you’d expect to make the nutrition facts look better. A great example of that are chips and sodas. Now they’re required to list the serving size and the whole container since it was deliberately misleading.
6. Eat Seasonal. Seasonal produce is incredibly full of flavor and packed with beneficial nutrients. Experiment with local, seasonal produce by making a smoothie, a fresh and healthy salad. A quick google search and you’ll be sure to find a ton of ways to eat local, seasonal produce.
7. Shop the perimeter. This is my FAVORITE grocery store tip. In traditional grocery stores, the highest quality foods tend to be found around the outer perimeter. That’s where you’ll find produce, dairy, meat, and fish. You only visit the inner aisles for specific items like dried herbs, spices, and whole grains on your list and you’ll bypass most of the empty calories.
8. Ignore the candy at the checkout. The checkout line bombards you with impulse options like candy. All that added sugar will increase inflammation throughout the body.
Healthier Swaps For Your Cart:
1. Fill up on produce. Devote most of your shopping cart to fruits and vegetables. Buying a rainbow of colors is a simple way to ensure balanced nutrition and lots of beneficial fiber. Fiber will help reduce inflammation throughout the body and aid in recovering from leaky gut symptoms.
2. Whole grains only. White bread and rice may cost less, but they’re worthless. Whole grains are a better value for your health and wealth. Buy whole grains like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and oatmeal. Experiment with a new whole grain each week to find the ones you like the most.
3. Shop for lean cuts of meat. Not all cuts of meat are the same! Chicken and turkey breast are great lean poultry. The leanest cuts of beef are eye of round roast and steak, sirloin tip side steak, top round roast and steak, bottom round roast and steak, top sirloin steak. Ask the counter people for help identifying the leanest cuts of your favorite types of meat.
4. Eat more fish. Fish like salmon, halibut, tuna, and cod are high in the healthy fat we need: omega-3s. Omega-3s help lower the bad cholesterol (LDL), reduce inflammation, and may boost immune system responses in people with autoimmune disease. Aim for at least 2 servings of fish a week.
5. Eat probiotics. Probiotics are healthy beneficial bacteria for our guts. Our health begins in our gut and dietary probiotics have linked to stronger immune systems, better heart health, and better digestive health. Be sure to include a probiotic like yogurt, sauerkraut (raw, not processed), kombucha, kefir, kimchi, or other fermented foods.
6. Eat more nuts and seeds. Fish aren’t the only foods that pack a powerful omega-3 punch! Nuts and seeds are full of beneficial healthy unsaturated fats and omega-3s. If you are allergic to tree nuts or peanuts, try sunflower seed butter.
Enjoy your grocery shopping and bring home nutrient dense foods that you and your family will love. With a few small tweaks to the way you shop for groceries, you can make your diet healthier and help lose weight.
Meal planning, eating before you shop, planning ahead, and choosing seasonal fruits and vegetables are all easy changes that can have a big impact on your health. Don’t forget to add in some healthy swaps like lean cuts of meat, probiotics, fish, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Are there any shopping techniques that work well for you that weren’t mentioned here? Please share them in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you! And if you want more tips like these, sign up for my newsletter and get my best autoimmune wellness tips delivered straight to your inbox.