how to find healthy food at grocery store

It's A Junk Food Jungle Out There {And How to Get Out!}

Common junk foods like most chips, snacks, sodas and sweets are the obvious offender to a weight loss goal and healthy diet…but what about those hidden food traps? There are so many! The deception is everywhere...from foods that are blatantly, falsely advertised as healthy, to everyday choices we thought were great options, but as we learn more and more about this, we realize they aren’t.

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An even greater crime is that food marketers target kids!

Most children’s commercial foods have more added sugar, food coloring and additives and preservatives in them than they do nutritional benefits! Oh, like fruit juices. Orange, apple, grape…UGH – read the label! Huge sugar boobie traps.

Take fruit snacks as another example: there is not a fleck of fruit in them! Yogurts are another “Whhaaaatttt? I can’t believe it!” food. Watch those added sugar amounts, and check the nutrition amount...then choose the lower-sugar version, you can always flavor it with fruit, honey, or stevia on your own.

Beware of the bountiful amount of unhealthy foods our “wonderful” manufacturers offer us, even (and maybe especially) the ones marketed to those of us watching our diets and food labels. They are not always what they seem to be.

There is so much more about this in my book, FRESH Start for Health - where I share in a refreshingly simple and grace-based way…it’s a Junk food Jungle out there, but we’ve got a way to hack through and get out!

*Junk Food Jungle - How To Find Your Way Out*

Sometimes maneuvering the grocery store aisles without derailing the FRESH eating plan brings more stress than the thought of teaching your teenager to drive! (Pulled completely from personal experience here LOL!)

We head straight to the veggie & fruit section, only to run right into a stand FULL of candy plopped right in the middle of the bananas and pineapples (and some of it is disguised as NUTRITIOUS!)

We avoid the chips and crackers aisle just to find them screaming at us from a corner stand at the seafood section! Yes, it is a Junk food jungle and no one is safe from the false labeling & marketing slogans that convince you that kind of food is actually good for you (when many times, if food has a label, it isn’t!)

So how to get out of the grocery store (errr Jungle!) without too much harm?

First matter of business has to be setting yourself up for grocery shopping success before you leave the house. {Chapters 6 & 7 in the above-mentioned book give the low-down on exactly how to do this! My mission - and I DO choose to accept it - is to help you eat FRESH and get out of the junk food jungle!}

Part of the survival plan at the market is to go in with your armor...your shopping list!

Make a meal plan, and then put together your shopping list for that plan - before you ever leave your house! {Need an example of a family-friendly meal plan that is FRESH food to follow?}

One of the best ways to get out of the Jungle and still be on track is to always use a list, and always eat healthy before you go! Another tip if you truly struggle with temptation and need to pull back for a bit - use the new “pick up” services that most stores now offer. Win-win.

Here’s the TOP 5 sugar traps to watch out for in the store:

1.  Yogurt (especially the squeeze kind) – contains 15-27 grams of the white stuff (added sugar) per serving. Read closely also to see HOW they are sweetening the yogurt, and how many ingredients are in it. Try to purchase yogurt that lists 5 or under ingredients and have ideally less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

{FRESH Fix: Get low-sugar OR plain Greek yogurt instead and flavor with fruit, honey, etc – try to stick to under 7 grams per serving. The kind I buy my kids uses Stevia as the sweetener}


2. Cereal – This stuff is BAD…and it’s tough, because our kiddos think it’s GOOD. There is an entire aisle in the store with boxes and bags of it for a reason. (Demand!) However, when each “serving” of cereal is between 11-23 grams of sugar and kids usually eat 2 or more servings PER meal, we have a problem! Add in the milk, and its 11 grams of sugar PER 8 ounces. OUCH. Plus, there’s hardly any nutrition at all in this “food.”

{FRESH Fix: Choose homemade low-sugar granola instead, or whole grain varieties of store bought. Try to get away from cereal as a staple and turn it into more of a treat - only serving it on rare occasions.}

3. Juice boxes and other “kid-friendly” sugary drinks – There’s not enough nutritional benefit to these drinks to justify the sugar and chemical content, no matter what the package marketing says. Just steer clear of the TWO AISLES of packaged drinks in the store altogether.

{FRESH fix: Make homemade teas and real-fruit-infused water instead, there’s many varieties that are TASTY and with low to no sweetener! Try fruit-infused waters with fresh mint, and healthy homemade iced coffee drinks. We also occasionally have Truvia-sweetened PURE Crystal Light drinks. It’s a great treat choice, and is a “better” choice than aspartame-sweetened ones.}


4.  Granola bars and commercially prepared “breakfast” foods – Watch out! The 13-30 grams of sugar PER SERVING in these marketed-like-they’re-healthy choices will spike your kiddo’s blood sugar before the day even begins. Plus they contain little to no nutrition or, the nutrition found within is processed versions, bringing all kinds of complications with it.

{FRESH fix: Make homemade choices instead, or try these two FRESH Start-approved choices – Nature Valley Protein Bars (6 grams sugar) and Kashi (make sure to choose the under 10 grams sugar ones.}


5. Fruit snacks or roll-ups – there’s NO fruit in them. They are little expensive pieces of chemically-produced, gelatin-filled, sugar-laden blood spikers that do nothing for hunger but actually create a ravenous hunger driven by the spike in insulin in a child’s body. (Can you tell, I DON’T LIKE THESE at all!) They also promote dental cavities and other dental health issues.

{FRESH fix: Eat REAL fruit instead. Help your child rediscover what they LOVE about grapes, apples, bananas, kiwi, mangoes and dozens of other choices. Use creative and fun ways to enjoy them - make smoothies out of them that taste like ice cream, freeze the grapes, put fruit chunks on a kabob stick, cut pineapple into flower shapes, etc. Once you’ve helped their taste buds get reacquainted with fibrous sugar, they will begin asking for fruit again!}

Tell me in the comments below what your experience is in the Junk Food Jungle called the grocery store?

Is this an area you are working on changing?

Join the conversation in our FRESH Start Club for more about this oh-so-real challenge we all face!