Good nutrition practices fuel your body for great workouts and a happy life in general. That all starts with your trip to the grocery store. Here are our top tips for a successful visit:

PREPARE - Before you step in the store or start your online shopping cart, start with two things: an inventory of your pantry/fridge and a forecast of your week ahead. Knowing your schedule for the week can help you plan for when you’ll need quick recipes or when you’ll have time to try something new. Then, look at what you already have and make a list of your needs. Sticking to a list helps minimize food waste and keeps your wallet happy, too.

EAT - Literally. Eat some food before you step foot in the store. Being hungry tends to turn us into unsupervised children at a birthday party. Everything looks tasty and all willpower goes down the drain. Eat prior to arriving so you’re not overwhelmed.

THE TRAFFIC LIGHT - Consider your overall nutrition needs as Red, Yellow, and Green. Red foods are seldom eaten or not at all. Examples are anything that gives you digestive issues or tend to derail your otherwise healthy eating train. Yellow foods are okay, just maybe not all the time. Consider them “treats.” Green foods are your daily staples like quality meats, fruits, vegetables, and complex carbs.

DON’T FALL FOR GIMMICKS - These days every brand has a “fill-in-the-blank-FREE” or All Organic option. But a gluten free cookie is still a cookie. Read your labels and don’t fall for fancy marketing tactics. The rule of subtraction/addition usually applies. When something is sugar/gluten/sodium free, that often means they’ve added something else to make it not taste like dirt. When in doubt, stick to whole, minimally processed foods or learn how to make it yourself!

CHECK THE CART - After you’ve picked up everything on your list, but before you check out, take the time to observe your cart as a whole. Is it mostly green light foods? Do I really need this many yellow light foods or can I substitute with a healthier option? Ask yourself if your inner health nut would be proud or disappointed.

INVESTMENT - Eating healthy can be more expensive but remind yourself it’s an investment in your overall health and well-being. Consider that bag of kale and bunch of bananas as your body’s retirement plan. The more good stuff you put in now, the less you’ll spend on hospital visits and medication later. Plus, when you eat well and feel good, you can have more fun!

Need more? We recommend checking for a reliable resource on all things nutrition.

~Kirstin Henry, MPH

Louisville, Kentucky

P.S Most people know they can use reusable grocery bags to help their impact on the Earth. But did you know plastic produce bags can create just as much waste? Consider buying reusable ones like these. I highly recommend them!