At Sleekgeek, we know that shopping for the right kind of food can feel really complicated and daunting at times…
The good news is that with a clear system to follow it becomes just about effortless!
Strangely enough, being able to create a healthy shopping list, confidently navigate the shops, and identify food labels is a set of skills that is commonly overlooked and taken for granted by many sources of health and nutrition advice. Don’t worry, we are here to help!
Food List = Shopping List
The Sleekgeek Food List easily doubles up as a convenient shopping list to help you stock up on more healthy and nutritious foods.
With a shopping list full of nutritious foods, you can hit the grocery store, get in and out quickly, and leave knowing you’ve bought all the things you need to be prepared in the days ahead.
If you just wander around waiting for something to catch your eye so that you can put it in your basket, you are more likely to end up with unhealthy rather than healthy choices.
Use the list to identify a few of your favourites from each food group.
For example, I personally like:
- Quality Proteins: beef, lamb, chicken, eggs, hake, salmon, tuna, calamari, milk, cottage cheese, yoghurt, protein powder, and lentils.
- Colourful Vegetables: onions, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, sweet corn, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, green beans, lettuce, and sugar-snap peas.
- Smart Carbs: potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, oats, quinoa, rice, sprouted grains, beans, chickpeas, and most fruit on the list.
- Healthy Fats: coconut oil, olive oil, walnut oil, almonds, cashews, pecans, chia seeds, sesame seeds, avocado, butter, olives, and peanut butter.
These are foods that I like and will actually eat.
Remember, as per our Kitchen Makeover Guide, it’s important that you design your environment to support you. You don’t want to ever be caught without convenient, healthy food available. Set yourself up for success, not failure.
Expand Your Choices
There is absolutely no food that you must eat to be healthy.
This is why we suggested above that you first focus on what you actually like. There are more than enough healthy foods out there that you can take your pick and make healthy eating an enjoyable experience with foods that you enjoy rather than a chore of eating foods that you hate.
But, there is something to be said for trying new things and deliberately expanding your choices.
Our taste preferences tend to adjust based on exposure. In other words, sometimes you have to try a thing a few times (in some cases many times) before you develop a liking for it.
For example, almost no one likes the taste of coffee, beer, wine, olives, sushi, etc the first time they taste it. But, over time, with enough repeated exposure we grow to absolutely love the taste.
This holds true as well for things like bitter vegetables or more unusual foods such as barley, sweet potatoes, lentils, seeds, healthy cooking oils, and so on. If this interests you, check out 3 Reasons you might not like vegetables and 3 things that you can do about it.
Try 3 new foods from each food group:
This is where things get exciting! As we grow up we come across less and less new experiences. Finding something to try for the first time can be rather hard, so here we go!
Keep in mind that this is not about success or failure.
If you try golf for the first time, watch a ballet for the first time, or go watch a new movie, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is. If you enjoy it, great! If you don’t, that’s OK too, you didn’t fail. You can decide if you want to give it another try in the future to see if it will grow on you, or you can decide then and there that this is definitely not for you. We all have different preferences when it comes to sports, movies, music, and hobbies… food is no different.
So, when ready, identify 3 new foods from each food group in the Sleekgeek Food List to try over the next couple of weeks.
For example, for me it might look like:
- 3 Quality Proteins: ostrich, crab, and tofu.
- 3 Colourful Vegetables: rhubarb, eggplant, and artichokes.
- 3 Smart Carbs: amaranth, chickpeas, and persimmons.
- 3 Healthy Fats: Avocado oil, brazil nuts, and coconut milk.
I’ll then decide which of those I absolutely hate, which are worth trying again, and which I could see quite easily being part of my regular diet.
These “new foods” don’t even have to be completely new to you. It could just be foods that you forgot about or don’t find yourself buying very often. For example, I know that I love prawns, but I only end up having them like 4-5 times a year. This is something I would like to change, as it would benefit me in expanding my variety of protein options and making some of my meals more interesting.
Adjust according to your needs:
Again, there is absolutely no food that you must eat.
Nutrition is personal, so adjust it according to your needs and preferences.
- If you are already following a specific diet like Banting or Paleo (and it’s working well for you) then that is fine, scrap whatever on the list doesn’t fit.
- If you are vegan or vegetarian then leave out the meat, stock up on legumes and vegan protein powder, and consider eggs, fish, and dairy as a supplemental source of protein.
- If you have other special dietary requirements around religion, allergies, or you absolutely do not like some of the foods on this list then simply focus on whichever foods you can eat.
Four of our most important tips for shopping are:
- Always shop with a list. Whether that’s ours or your own is up to you. If it’s not on the list, you don’t buy it. That saves you time AND money.
- Know supermarket geography. Most supermarkets are laid out the same way: The healthy stuff is generally around the edges while most of the stuff to avoid is in the inner aisles and at the checkout points. Stick mostly to the perimeter and be cautious when venturing deeper down the aisles or when checking out (waiting in the queue is the perfect time to pull out your phone and browse Sleekgeek for a bit as a distraction from tempting, well-positioned sweets).
- Try to avoid shopping on an empty stomach. When you are hungry or simply haven’t eaten in a while, you are significantly more likely to make impulse food choices and spend money unnecessarily.
- Get in and get out. All three of the above points will likely help you to speed things up, but a bit of intention and focus on getting your shopping done as quickly as possible rather than browsing can go a long way to reducing your impulse buys.
Learn to read labels
Perhaps one of the most valuable shopping skills out there is the ability to read food labels correctly.
The best-case scenario is that you are mostly single-ingredient foods that do not even come with a food label or more than one ingredient, however, there definitely will be exceptions to this from time to time.
- The packaging: The first thing people normally look at when buying foods is what it says on the front of the box. This is a bad idea, as marketing is all about appealing to consumers by putting bold words on the front of the packaging. In fact, most foods marketed as healthy are often exactly the opposite, whereas foods that build the foundation of health (such as in The Sleekgeek Food List) tend to be sold as they come and don’t need to convince consumers that they are healthy.
- Nutrition facts label: The next place where people often get confused is they look at the nutrition facts label on the back that shows the amount of calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and other possible stats such as vitamins and minerals. This is great when you are trying to watch your calorie intake or get extra protein, but keep in mind that things like zero-calorie sweeteners or nutritionally sparse foods can skew your perception of a product’s nutrition and don’t necessarily mean that it is healthy.
- Ingredients list: The best thing to do is to look beyond the marketing buzzwords and macronutrient / calorie nutrition label to examine the list of ingredients closely. This will tell you exactly what you are putting into your body. Then, you can use that knowledge along with the nutritional information and your own personal beliefs or trusted guidelines around nutrition to make an educated decision.
You can read more about How to Read Food Labels here.
What to do now?
Now it’s time to put this all into practice.
- Step 1) Download the Sleekgeek Food List if you haven’t already.
You can read more about the food list here or go straight to the download here.
- Step 2) Create a shopping list.
Use the list to identify your favourite healthy foods that you like and will actually eat. Refer to our Kitchen Makeover Guide on how to design your environment for the better by stocking up on these foods.
- Step 3) Expand your choices.
When ready, experiment by trying 3 new foods from each food group over the course of the next few weeks. Decide whether they are yay, nay, or maybe.
- Step 4) Share with the Sleekgeek Community.
We’ve created a discussion thread here in the Sleekgeek Facebook Group where we would love it if you shared some of your favourite foods from the food list and your experience with trying new foods.
What’s up next?
Up next is our Healthy Meal Template.
This is where we bridge the gap between “knowing” and “doing”, showing you how to easily start constructing healthy, well-balanced meals.
If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the Sleekgeek Health Revolution Newsletter so we can keep you up to date.