Build a Healthy Diet with Smart Shopping



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The Power of Choice!
We have the power of choice to decide which foods to buy at the grocery store. Making the healthiest food choices when shopping and eating out is a key to consuming a well-balanced diet.


Guidelines for a Healthy You

Healthy food choices are important for good health and well-being. Eating well means eating a variety of nutrient-packed foods and beverages from the food groups of MyPlate and staying within your calorie needs. This, combined with choosing foods low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and salt (sodium) will help to ensure that you are eating a healthy diet while helping to maintain a healthy weight. If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly and in moderation.

For great information on how to meet these goals- both at home and when eating out, take a look at Let's Eat for the Health of It (PDF|968 KB). This brochure is based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (the federal government's science-based advice to promote health through nutrition and physical activity). View the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans here and visit MyPlate.gov for more guidance and tips for eating healthy.

Basic Healthy Shopping Skills

Keys for making your shopping the most healthful:

  • Know Your Store!
  • Bring a List!
  • Use the Facts!

KNOW YOUR STORE
Grocery stores have thousands of products, with most food items grouped together to make your decision-making easier. Many grocery stores have sections where foods are shelved much like the food groups of MyPlate.

The MyPlate food groups put foods with similar nutritional value together. These groups are:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Milk (calcium-rich foods)
  • Meat and Beans (protein-rich foods)

Where are these food groups in your store?

Food Group Typical Store Location(s) Best Choices
Fruits Produce Aisle
Canned Goods
Freezer Aisle
Salad Bar
Variety! Fresh, Frozen, Canned and Dried Fruits.
Vegetables Produce Aisle
Canned Goods
Freezer Aisle
Salad Bar
Pasta, Rice & Bean Aisle
Variety! Fresh, Frozen and Canned (especially dark green and orange). Dry Beans and Peas.
Grains Bakery
Bread Aisle
Pasta & Rice Aisle(s)
Cereal Aisle
Whole Grains for at least half of choices.
Milk,Yogurt, & Cheese
(calcium-rich foods)
Dairy Case
Refrigerated Aisle
Non-Fat and Low-Fat Milk, Yogurt, Low-Fat and Fat-Free Cheeses
Meat and Beans
Fish,Poultry,Eggs,
Soy,& Nuts
(protein foods)
Deli
Meat & Poultry Case
Seafood Counter
Egg Case
Canned Goods
Salad Bar
Lean Meats, Skinless Poultry, Fish, Legumes (dried beans and peas), Nuts.

Don't forget that your local farmers market is a great place for finding healthy foods, Find a Farmers Market in Your State.

Resources for making healthy food choices:

BRING A LIST
And stick to it! Healthy decisions start at home. Planning ahead can improve your health while saving you time and money. Before shopping, decide which foods you need, and the quantity that will last until your next shopping trip.

Consider creating a shopping list based on the MyPlate food groups to include a variety of healthy food choices. Think about your menu ideas when adding items to your list. Write your list to match the groups to the layout of your store.

Have everyone in your family make suggestions for the shopping list. Kids (and adults too!) are more willing to try new foods when they help to pick them.

USE THE FACTS
The Nutrition Facts that is! The Nutrition Facts panel on the food label is your guide to making healthy choices. Using the Nutrition Facts panel is important when shopping to be able to compare foods before you buy.

What are the facts? When reading the Nutrition Facts panel consider this:

Keep these Low: Look for More of these:
  • saturated fats
  • trans
  • fats
  • cholesterol
  • sodium
  • fiber
  • vitamins A, C, & E
  • calcium, potassium, magnesium & iron
  • ** Use the %Daily Value (DV) column when possible: 5%DV or less is low, 20%DV or more is high.

    Find out more about using the label:

    ENJOY!
    Enjoy food shopping while exploring different foods and learning about their Nutrition Facts. Healthy choices can make a healthy you!

    Try What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl for ideas on making healthful meals.

    Check out Family Meals- Fast, Healthful! for tips on how to create speedy meals that are good for you.

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    Developed by Colette Pester and Dr. Lora Wilder, RD, 2005
    Reviewed March 2011
    Questions or comments? Contact Us