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A healthier 2022 begins with the right choices at the grocery store

Michelle Martin, for Busch’s Fresh Food Market
One of the easiest ways to be sure you’re making healthy choices at the grocery store is by making a list — and sticking to it when you get to the store.

Creating better eating habits tops many people’s New Year’s resolutions list. 

But eating better doesn’t mean measuring every calorie or cutting out every dessert. In many cases, it simply means making healthier choices at the supermarket. 

Here are five ways to start 2022 on a healthy note — before you ever leave the grocery store.

Shop after you eat

Studies show that people who go to the grocery store on an empty stomach tend to buy more junk food. And overall, people who shop on an empty stomach buy more than they need –– not only in the grocery store but anywhere they shop.

That’s because when you’re hungry, your mind is focused on acquiring things –– even if they’re not a food item, research shows. Save money –– and save your waistline –– by waiting to shop until after eating. 

Stay in the outer aisles

The outer aisles of grocery stores tend to have the healthiest foods –– they’re where you can find fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat. 

The center aisles are where you will find junk food and sugary drinks –– and it’s always best to avoid them when you’re trying to eat healthfully. 

Spend time in the produce department 

Shop the rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables by getting to know your store’s fresh produce offerings. Color matters — eating fruits and vegetables of different colors provide different health benefits.

Red, yellow, orange and green fruits and vegetables provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, and they can help lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Blue and purple fruits and vegetables provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, but they can also help reduce your risk of neurological disorders and Type 2 diabetes. And dark red fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of high blood pressure and help to increase your oxygen intake.

When shopping in the produce department, try a new fruit or vegetable each week. This will spice up your menu and supercharge your health. 

And if you’re unsure whether to buy a whole fruit or one that is already cut up, consider convenience. Many people purchase whole fruits and vegetables to save money, but they end up not cutting them up or using them, which actually costs more money. If you know you’re not going to cut up a pineapple, that’s OK — opt instead for pre-cut pineapple chunks. You’ll reduce waste and increase your intake of healthy fruits and vegetables. 

Read the labels

Anything with artificial ingredients, high-fructose corn syrup or ingredients you don’t recognize are red flags for unhealthy eating. When buying bread, choose those that have 100% whole grains — even if a label says it’s multigrain doesn’t mean it has 100% whole grains.

When buying juice, choose only those with 100% fruit juice. Those that aren’t 100% pure fruit juice have added sugars, sweeteners and colorings.

The best way to know what’s in your food or drink? Read the nutrition label.

Stick to a list 

One of the easiest ways to be sure you’re making healthy choices at the grocery store is by making a list — and sticking to it when you get to the store.

Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains on your list, and avoid unhealthy snacks. You also can plan a week’s worth of meals ahead of time, sticking with healthy recipes and being sure to include those ingredients on your list. By planning ahead, you’ll save time and money — and you’ll start 2022 on a healthy note.

To find healthy foods and other tips for eating better in the new year, visit buschs.com.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.
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