Create a Healthy Grocery List: 4 Foods to Banish from Your Shopping Cart

You are what you eat, and you eat what you buy (or grow!). Healthy eating choices at home start with smart purchases at the grocery store. Delicious, nutritious meals usually don’t just happen. When you create a healthy grocery list, you’re setting yourself up to make good choices in the future.

Everyone has their cravings and their guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasures – and you don’t have to banish these foods from your life altogether if the thought makes you weep inside. But keep them out of your house. It’s much better to buy one indulgent scoop of gelato at the parlor than to take home a half-gallon of rocky road. Do you love popcorn and soda at the movies? Enjoy it when you go once a month – but don’t make it your standard evening snack. If you must consume the following items, do it on a one-off basis – and do it far away from your home kitchen, which is your healthy eating epicenter.

Want to create a healthy grocery list? Ban these items from your shopping cart.

1. All sweetened sodas, including diet. When soda waters first came on the scene, it was a sugary treat for a special time. Today, many people drink it as their go-to daily beverage. If you’re used to drinking soda, you may crave it at first. But then the craving will pass, and your willpower will have grown stronger.

Healthier Alternative: Sparkling water. Drink it plain or squeeze in some citrus juice for a pick-me-up that feels like a real treat.

2. Processed salad dressings. You chop the vegetables and put a lot of effort into making a healthy, fresh salad. So why do you want to ruin it by piling a puree of processed oils and sugar on top? Some also contain MSG and other questionable additives.

Healthier Alternative: Olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle together on your salad, or whip up a quick vinaigrette in your food processor with one part vinegar and three parts oil.

3. Fruit juice. Masquerading as a healthy beverage, fruit juice is absolutely packed with sugar – and it has no place on your healthy grocery list. It may be more “natural” than other drinks, but it is delivered to your blood stream in a very unnatural way. Don’t fall for the hype.

Healthier Alternative: If you love juice, invest in a juicer that blends the pulp together. This retains the natural fibers of the fruit, and makes it a healthier drink.

4. Sweets. Can you live without sweets in the house? For those of us with a sweet tooth (or a whole mouth full of them), banishing sweets might sound like torture. But you might be surprised at how fast you adapt. When you have a craving, simply accept it… and let it go. Indulge in dessert with a friend at a restaurant.

Healthier Alternative: Dark chocolate. Banishing sweets is one thing, but banishing chocolate? That would just be crazy. Keep a small stash of high quality chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa. See how long you can make one square last while you eat it.

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Photo by Bruce Turner