Eating Well As You Get Older

Frequently Asked Questions

26. How can I choose healthier foods when shopping?

Planning ahead can help you choose healthier foods when you shop. It can also help you get the most for your money. Make a shopping list of foods you will need, and then buy only the items on your list. To avoid impulse buying, try to do your shopping when you are not hungry or rushed.

Plan to buy low-fat, nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables and fruits, seafood, lean poultry, lean meats, and whole-grain cereals and breads. Also put items such as low-fat or fat-free dairy products, eggs, beans and peas, and unsalted nuts on your shopping list. Many of these items are usually found in the outer ring of the grocery store.

Try not to buy convenience foods, even if they're on sale. These foods, such as candies, cake, cookies, crackers, and chips can be high in sodium, sugar, and fat. They give you few nutrients for the calories you consume. Limit the amount of lunch meat you buy for the same reasons unless you are buying the special lean, low-fat, low-sodium products.

You might want to take time to read the Nutrition Facts printed on food packages and cans until you are familiar with them. The Nutrition Facts can help you choose more healthy foods and compare the contents of different brands. When reading the Nutrition Facts, be sure to read the serving size and how many servings the package contains.

(Note: The FDA recently proposed updates to the Nutrition Facts label to reflect the latest scientific information linking diet and chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease. Proposed updates include a new design that better highlights key parts of the label such as calories and serving sizes.)