Smarter grocery shopping

Looking to gain more confidence in navigating the grocery store and understanding food labels to make healthier food decisions for you and your family?

Here is some information to consider that may help you when selecting items at the grocery store. 

Stick to the perimeter

When it comes to the grocery store, it seems that the less healthy foods are located in the middle aisles. Often the “real foods”—things like fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, and dairy—tend to be placed on the perimeter of the store. Start your shopping on the perimeter and aim to have the bulk of your grocery items made up of “real foods.” When you do venture into the middle aisles, consider looking for ways to add healthy items like canned beans, extra-virgin olive oil, nut butters, and canned fish.  

Be aware of food label traps

The nutrition facts that appear on the container of the food products you purchase provide information to help you make smart food decisions. Keep in mind, however, that these labels give information only about one serving—since there may be more than one serving in the container, you’ll have to consider how many servings you will eat when interpreting these facts. Another label item to look out for is added sugars. It is recommended to limit added-sugar intake, as it can cause you to eat less nutrient-rich food and provides no additional nutrient value itself. Be aware that added sugar in food may take on unfamiliar names like high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, fructose sweetener, brown rice syrup, dextrose, brown sugar, corn syrup, and more.1

Make a plan and stick to it

If you’ve ever entered the grocery store looking for a few items and leave with more than you expected, you know that planning ahead can keep you focused on the foods you need, as well as help you stay within a budget. Consider making a list of healthy foods you are planning to use during the week, and be sure to shop when you aren’t hungry to avoid food temptations.

By being aware, you can feel confident about making more informed decisions at the grocery store.

1., “Proposed Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label,” accessed March 18, 2015,

Sources:, “Proposed Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label,” accessed March 18, 2015,, “Build a Healthy Diet with Smart Shopping,” accessed March 22, 2015,

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