Food Shopping: Tips for Making the Right Choices
It is estimated that a third of the products purchased in supermarkets are impulse purchases, that is, they were not initially planned by the buyer. However, such purchases are often "entertainment products", rarely good for health and for the line, because it is easier to fall in love with a piece of chocolate than a kilogram of apple. PasseportSanté gives you tips on how to improve your food shopping.
Prepare your shopping list
Going to the supermarket without a shopping list is the best way to browse the shelves for items that will remind us of what we've forgotten, thus tempting products that are not only unnecessary, but not very good for your health. On the contrary, setting up your shopping list allows you to optimize your time, budget and the contents of your basket.
The idea is also to organize your shopping list according to the location of the shelves in the store. In this way, we limit the round trips and thus the temptations that exist in other sections.
Prepare your lists in advance
Planning your weekly menus not only increases your chances of achieving a balanced diet but also puts the basic necessities on your shopping list, thus saving time and money. In fact, there is no danger of doing too much shopping or, conversely, not doing enough and spending time in the store.
However, this way of planning things does not leave much room for the unexpected, so the purchase of some extras is not reasonably excluded.
Be wary of nutritional or health claims and low-fat products
Some food products may include nutritional claims such as "high in fiber" or health claims on their packaging, indicating the presence of certain minerals or vitamins 1.
These claims are highly structured, for example, a "high-fiber" food means that a 100-gram portion of this product covers 30% of the recommended daily amounts of the respective nutrient, while the same portion of "source fiber" will only cover 15% of the allowance. The recommended daily allowance for this nutrient. The regulations therefore ensure that this information is not misleading.
On the other hand, it would be wrong to confuse these health claims with a healthy product. In fact, the product can be rich in some nutrients but harmful to your health, because this information does not say anything about the content of refined sugars or bad fats in the product. If sources of fiber can very well be found in the cake department, they are nonetheless a delicacy that should be eaten in moderation.
By the same token, products that are reduced in fat, or light, are not necessarily diet-friendly. In fact, fats contribute to the feeling of fullness after eating. Thus, consuming a light product fills us up with less time, which encourages us to snack.
Also, to compensate for the loss of consistency or flavor, as in the case of yogurt, the manufacturer may add thickeners and sugar. So the product is very low in fat, but in the end it is not better for your health than its regular counterpart. Likewise, "low-sugar" products are not necessarily lower in calories than their counterparts.
Read product labels
To avoid falling into the trap of attractive packaging and hygienic formulations, it is essential to know how to read product labels.
First, you should know that the ingredients, as they appear on the packaging, are categorized according to their importance in the product. So the first component is the component present in the largest amount in the final product, and the last component is the least present. The first three components give a general idea of the quality of the product.
It's also about understanding the ingredients on the list. Some manufacturers may double up on the names of the same ingredient so it doesn't appear first on the list. Sugar, for example, can be divided into "glucose syrup", "fructose syrup", "maltodextrin" or even "corn syrup".
By the same token, the inaccurate mention of “vegetable oil” often betrays the presence of palm oil, which can be found in large quantities in sweet products and ready meals, but contributes significantly to deforestation1.
Finally, beware of long lists of ingredients that are very likely to contain preservatives, flavorings, colorings, and other chemical additives.
Nutritional values give a more accurate idea of the proportions of nutrients present in a product. However, they are often given for 100 grams of the product and not for a portion. So a quick diversion is necessary to know what we're really ingesting. It can also be helpful to know what the amounts actually represent: know that 5g of sugar represents the level of 1 teaspoon of sugar, 5g of fat and 1 teaspoon of oil.
Prefer raw foods
To be sure of what you are eating, there is nothing better than buying raw foods, i.e. all unprocessed products such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, oilseeds... which are an ingredient in themselves.
Thus we avoid all preservatives, artificial flavors, colorings and sweeteners and control the sugar, fat and salt content of what we cook.
If the budget allows, organic foods - recognizable by their label - ensure that pesticide residues are reduced. It is sometimes necessary to check the ingredients of frozen products, such as vegetables, to make sure there are no added fats or other additives.
Obviously, this is simply perfect to strive for, because preparing your meals takes time. For those who are in a hurry, careful analysis of the labels will allow you to choose the right meals.
Do not go to the supermarket on an empty stomach
Between the shelves of chocolate, pastries, sugary drinks and supermarkets all the temptations of consumers focus, and it is difficult to resist them when you are hungry or thirsty.
In this case, we are effectively driven by the sole goal of satisfying ourselves as quickly as possible and become prone to impulse purchases 1. Our appetites are stimulated further as everything is done to make you want to eat, thinking especially of the smells of bread and pastries coming out of the oven.
A simple rule of thumb not to throw yourself on any greasy or sugary product is to go shopping after a meal or at a time of the day when you don't feel hungry. In addition, it avoids going over budget.
Several studies went further by showing that consumers who ate something healthy or supposedly healthy, like an apple or "healthy biscuit" before shopping, bought more fruits and vegetables than those who ate nothing, or ate nothing healthy.
Choose the right products
Since indulgence is not taboo, on the contrary it is important to enjoy, you can also include snacks in your shopping list, but again, some options are better than others, and reading labels is crucial.
Spending your time comparing products allows you to choose the best. If you can't do without chocolate, for example, you'll prefer a dark chocolate bar over a milk chocolate bar because the former has less sugar. And since it is the dose that makes the poison, nothing prevents the accidental consumption of gourmet products.