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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don’t Forget the Peas!

Renée Frechette, RD

Grocery shopping is often a task on that lengthy list of errands each week. Stop approaching it as a task and embrace it as an Opportunity! Perspective! Perspective is the first P to remember when you are dashing out the door on your way to the grocery store. Don’t forget the P’s! Let’s find the other P’s along the way. Your grocery cart will appreciate a wellness tune-up. And you’ll leave with a new approach to eating well.

Don’t forget the “Peas”!

Perspective. If you are looking to make changes in the way you eat, start by making changes in the way you think. If you are overwhelmed by all that you would like to change in your meal pattern, start with just one. If for example, you’d like to eat more vegetables everyday: be specific and set a goal of eating a set amount at lunch every day. Think positivity! You can do it. Once you have made veggies a part of you lunch routine everyday, then move on to dinner meals. This is the place to pack in the remainder of the vegetable servings you need every day. Will you be perfect – maybe not? Settle for Positively Good! Once you get there you can even sneak in extra veggies as snacks.

Plan your Purchases. This two-step process that takes place before you even set foot in the grocery store. First plan your meals and second create a shopping list. Planning is key when making healthy changes. Planning saves time, money (cuts down impulse buying) and mental energy later on when you are asking yourself: “What’s for Dinner?” If you need a little help, check out the links below. The simplest method yet: a pencil and paper. Back to our Veggie example above: This week add many different veggies to your list. Think ahead of which you’ll incorporate at lunch and which at dinner.

Perimeter is the Place to be. The outer edge of the grocery store provides most of the raw materials you’ll need. Strategic slides into the middle aisles will be required to snag whole grain (breads, rice, and cereals), beans and pantry essentials. But be sure that take a quick detour around the many traps that may be lurking near the heavily processed and nutritionally void foods. If a package is smiling back at you – (that cheery cartoon character on that box of “Super Sugar Swindlers”) then pick up the pace and keep moving.

Produce! In order to produce results on your way to wellness you need Produce: Vegetables and Fruits! These are the best part of the Perimeter! Consider aiming for a minimum of 5-6 cups of vegetables and fruit daily. This is achievable by including a variety of servings at meals and making these smart choices for snacking. Vary your choices to reel in a rainbow of colors. Choose whole foods over juices.

Place Trust in the Facts Panel and Ingredient List. Avoid spending too much time reading commentary on the front of a food package. A fair portion of what you read in the front of a package may be a lure. To be a savvy shopper you need to look at the whole picture. Turn the item over and scan the ingredient list. Items are listed in order of appearance (descending order). If you are scratching your head on what to Pick and what to Pass, here are few to keep in mind. Pick: whole grains (like whole wheat, whole oats, and brown rice) and items with the shortest list of ingredients ingredients. Pass on: hydrogenated oils, sodium nitrate, added sugars (beware of all its forms) and artificial colorings. Your next tool will be the Nutrition Facts panel. For the ins and outs on label reading download a copy of the FDA’s label reading guide:

Pick a new food. This is where creativity captures your imagination and peaks your curiosity. Choose something out of your comfort zone! Pomegranate, Parsnips, pumpkin, peppers, pears, plum or perhaps PEAS! Peas, humble as they may seem, pack some power! They are members of the legume family and contain some protein along with fiber, folic acid, and vitamins A and C.

Now go ahead: Shop your Way to Wellness and don’t forget your P’s!
~Renée Frechette, RD

One last P: Paper Please! Pass on the plastic bags and Pick paper or purchase your own reusable grocery satchels.

A Special Thanks from the Backus Hospital Registered Dietitians to our Norwich Stop and Shop for the Opportunity to give our Grocery Tour Participants a new Perspective. And thank you to my grocery group for a fun journey.

Download the Eat Your Peas checklist.

Please check out these useful links:

Planning posts:

Label Links:

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