How to Make Good Food Choices at the Store

Woman Choosing Food Product

The average supermarket has nearly 50,000 products lining their shelves. With an overwhelming number of options that carry misleading labels like natural or healthy, how do you know what to buy and what to avoid? Making good choices at the store can be simplified by following these guidelines.

Shop the Perimeter

Grocery stores typically line the perimeter of the store with the freshest foods. Lean meats, dairy, and fresh produce can be found along the outer edges. By sticking to the outer perimeter of the store, you will naturally buy the freshest food possible. Many of these items do not carry any label at all because they do not have ingredients; they are ingredients in and of themselves.

Learn to Recognize Misleading Claims

Some words you frequently see on packages such as "all natural" or "healthy" have very little meaning. These words are meant to attract you to a product but are not regulated by the Food and Drug Information and, therefore, have no standardized definition. When you select a processed food from the shelf, read the ingredient label carefully. Choose items that have few ingredients with low levels of added salt and sugar.

Avoid Ingredients That You Cannot Pronounce

While you are reading the ingredient label, look for words that you cannot pronounce. Long, multi-syllable words usually indicate a high level of food processing, preservatives, and colorings.

In every case, let common sense be your guide. A breakfast cereal that you see advertised on television by a cartoon character and comes in a rainbow of colors is not going to be a sound nutritional choice, no matter what the label claims.


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