Monday, 11 August 2014


You are what you eat - and you eat what you shop.
So health starts at buying the right products.

There are no such thing that chocolate bars or cake only for visitors/children. Once they are in your cupboard you will eat them at one point - if not earlier, when you are having visitors and you put them on the table. Crisps, chocolate bars, sweets, biscuits have a particular ability: once they sit on the shelf of your cupboard they can call you anytime, in any situation "come and eat me". Yes, they can make you forget all about lovely fruits, all about your weight loss goal and the whole healthy lifestyle thing.

But you are a fighter,

 and you know how to beat them: simply not letting them into your home. It sounds weird, but no unhealthy products in your house - no temptation. Of course, you must be prepared for snacking: keep handy unsalted nuts, natural yoghurt, oatcakes, rice cakes, fresh or dried fruits. I have written about healthy snacking earlier HERE, so the only thing what I want to mention here is that kids are not an excuse to buy unhealthy products. As you do not need high sugar, salt or fat content products so they do not need them either. They can be attracted by the package or the marketing of the product, that is understandable. But you are there to teach the see through these tricks, and the earlier you start this the more money you save and the more healthy your children will be. Not to mention that they will learn how to shop the right products.

So, the top shopping tips for health-conscious mums:

1. Do not shop more times than twice a week

The more time you spend in the store the more unnecessary product  you buy. so try to keep the time you spend in the shop on the minimum. It makes sense to me, to schedule a big weekly shopping on Friday - when you buy everything that you need for the weekend and the following week and then a smaller one around Tuesday-Wednesday just to buy a couple of fresh products like vegetables, milk, bread.

But I can imagine that it may also work if you do a big monthly shopping with all no-fresh products, like cleaning products, tinned and frozen products etc. and a smaller one once a week to buy only fresh products like fish, meat, dairy, bread etc.

I suppose you know your shop's layout so you know that fruit and vegetable aisles come first, then grocery, then bakery, butcher etc. So organise you shopping list based on this.

2. Make a shopping list

Really, you heard this all the time. But making a list not just spare you time but help you to stayed focussed. When you are in the shop you are bombarded by so many visual information, that you can forget easily half of the products what you really need - while filling up your trolley with products what you really do not need - just because they are on sale.
A good shopping list can spare your money too - as you do not buy things what you do not want. Do not give over the control over your hard earned money to marketing professionals. This way you will not wast food neither - specially if the base of your shopping list is a good weekly meal plan.

3. Avoid complete aisles to visit

Why would you spend time on the chocolate or biscuit aisle if you do not want to buy any? There are so many temptation to resist in other area of the store - they are clever to distribute these kind of product through around the shop floor - so keep your strength for these.

4. Learn to handle temptation

If you are tempted by a product to put it into your shopping trolley, just stop and read the ingredients list. This can give you a wake up call most of the time. Very often you will see how far is the product from that what is claimed on the front label. Is this really what you want to eat? 
Also check the calorie content per serving on the label. Knowing that an average man needs around 2500 calories, an average women 2000 calories a day - you can judge, does it fit into your diet. 

5. Read food labels

You do not have time to read all labels in the shop, but you do not have to read all the labels. There are products what you know as buy them regularly. So I suppose you once checked the labels - at least at home when you put them into the cupboard. So only the once-off products what you need to check. Here it is the help to understand food labelling: Food labelling
Do not trust brand - always check the label of a new product. We like Weetabix and very often buy it. But when the flavoured versions came up I was really tempted buy the banana flavoured Weetabix. Well, it has a high sugar content, so we stayed with the basic product.

6. Do not buy anything just because the label claims it is healthy

Front labels are to sell the product, back labels tell you the naked truth. Just because the product gluten-free low-fat, reduced fat, low-sugar, or addressed to children - that does not mean that they are healthy and good for you. Gluten-free does not mean that the product is low in sugar or calorie. It means only that it can be consumed by people with gluten intolerance.

7. Buy less quantity but always quality

You do not need to eat much from nutritious food, so it is better to concentrate on quality. Choose local, free range and organic products - specially meat, poultry and eggs. And obviously it better to choose local veg and fruit which are in season - they give their best in season without travelling through continents.

8. Discover other shopping channels

 Like farm shops or from-farm-to-door vegetable and fruit box retailers. If you know the source of the product you can trust more the quality. And do not think it is more expensive than supermarket food - quite the contrary.
I know to visit a farm shop weekly it is a bit hassle - but you can freeze the meat in portions if you can go only once a month. Visiting a farm can be a really good family program too. Kids love farm animals and at least they will not think that chickens are made in factories...
The other option to get high quality products is to order meat/veg/fruit boxes which are delivered directly to your door. This is very convenient - good for you and good for the local economy too.

+ 1 Never do shopping with empty stomach. 

When we are hungry we are prone to buy more junk food and eat it as soon as we left the shop. Have a healthy snack before shopping, so you will be able to make the right choices.

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