Food Shopping: With Almost Everything Called “Natural”, What to Do?


Many of my personal training clients are either attempting to lose weight, eat more protein and whole grains, and/or are generally concerned about eating less sugar and increasing more “health” food in their diets. Sometimes I’ll offer food tours with them so I can show them healthier options in the grocery store they typically use. These food tours open my eyes to the myths they have about food and how these myths have influenced their habits over the years.


I felt awful during one of my food tours when I looked at the disbelief in a client’s face when I showed her just how she had been shopping wrong for countless years.


I can understand how sometimes they feel overwhelmed with the choices offered now in the stores, shopping for health can be confusing!  Stores have many aisles now that proclaim healthy foods!  However, just because food items are sitting on the shelves of the health aisles does not mean it is all healthy so it is important to read food labels.  It is also integral to understand what the food labels means.  Simple things to notice are the ingredients; if you cannot pronounce an ingredient it probably should not go in your body.


Additionally, one of the first messages I give my clients is that there are so many items on these healthy food aisles stating they are natural, however it does not mean they are healthy!


Let’s take cereals.  Most often clients would confuse certain cereals as being healthy when in fact it was laden in sugar. Another large misconception is when people choose low-fat or fat-free when in fact these items are also loaded in sugar or sodium.  Not good!


Here are a host of other myths in healthy grocery shopping.  One common myth is that choosing multi-grain bread is the healthiest way to go.  The more grains, the more bang for your buck in health benefits, right?  Multi-grain is often higher in calories but not as high in nutrients. Whole grain is the healthiest choice, it has more fiber, fewer calories and more nutrients.


So here are a few simple tips to help you guide the grocery store with confidence!  Avoid the ready-made frozen meal aisle.  Why in the world would you put a frozen, high in sodium, processed dinner into your body?!  So avoid this aisle.  If life is just too busy to prepare a meal every night, use your Sunday each week as meal prep night.  On meal prep night, you can cook your meals, and freeze into small containers so you will have your healthy meal prepared in advance for the week.  This will help you to stay on track to dieters’ success!  One of my recent personal training clients did this and within a month she lost over fifteen pounds.  Why?  She planned for success and she greatly succeeded.


So plan for your healthy week and after positive results, you will be so thankful you did.  The results will pay off as your skinny jeans fit comfortably.


But dieters need not to worry because once you have the knowledge in just how to navigate the grocery store, you will look at food shopping in a whole different light.  You will learn to food shop for your health rather than your daily cravings.  And the scale will reflect the positive changes that you make.  As the number on the scale begins to drop, as it did for my recent weight loss client, you know you are making the right choices.  Then increased energy kicks in and you are winning even further!  You may even have more energy for your workouts.


Another simple way to get on track to slimming down your grocery list is so basic; just write a list.  Make a list that includes veggies, fruits, eggs, and whole grains; then stick with this list.  If you want to see great results, do not buy anything that is not on the list.  In my personal experience as a mom of four, I find sticking to a list to be ultra-important.  It is easy to go off track if you go food shopping with excited toddlers ready to grab everything they want off the racks.  But if you stick to the list, you can never go wrong.


Another client recently followed just this and she has her toddler now loving salmon and salad.  Not only will life become easier, as she will no longer have to make separate meals, but she is also creating a healthy lifestyle he will learn to follow for a lifetime.


And this is a pay-it-forward process because through these shopping trips you will be teaching your children just how to food shop healthily as they grow.


So you see food shopping is not just about you but in this great big world you can teach your children, friends and family members the healthy way to stock your shopping cart.


And I promise you that you will be so thankful you made these changes as you begin to feel better and have more energy!



Tara Zimliki is a nationally recognized weight loss expert, personal trainer, health coach, health writer and founder of Tara’s Bootcamp, the Premiere Bootcamp of New Jersey. Tara also runs her own blog,