Super Shopping Tips for When You’re Counting Calories

By Dr. Jean Harvey, Ph.D., R.D., Joyce Hendley, M.S., EatingWell Editors, "Aisle by Aisle: A Supermarket Buying Guide," The EatingWell Diet (2007)

How to stay on course in the 6 major aisles of the supermarket.

5. Canned/Packaged Food

While these sections can be a minefield of temptations, there are plenty of healthy staples to be found. Choose whole-grain pastas (there are some astonishingly tasty brands now available) and brown rice, as well as “quick” whole grains like whole-wheat couscous, quinoa and quick-cooking barley. Look for canned fruits packed in water or their own juices, and vegetables canned without salt. For convenient protein fixes, try canned beans, water-packed tuna, canned salmon and sardines—and reduced-sodium soups based on broth or beans.

Looking for a good salad dressing? Focus on flavor rather than worrying too much about the fat content, since the whole point of dressing is to get you to eat more salads. “Reduced-fat” and “fat-free” dressings often contain similar amounts of calories and might not be worth the flavor trade-off. Don’t forget to pick up some interesting vinegars, which add calorie-free flavor to just about anything; try balsamic, sherry and apple cider vinegars.

In the cereal aisle, seek out brands labeled “whole-grain” (with whole grains as the first ingredient) and with at least 8 grams of fiber per serving. Check the label to avoid added sugars; you can always add sweetness with your own sliced fresh fruit. In the snack section, best options include whole-grain snack crackers, whole-wheat pretzels, brown rice cakes, whole-grain crispbreads and popcorn (choose “light” microwave variety or—even better—pop it yourself in an air popper or on the stove, in a heart-healthy oil like peanut or canola).

Next: 6. Bakery »

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