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Published on Monday, May 7, 2018

Give your grocery list a makeover for better health

Aubrie HooverThe following article was written by Public Health Educator Aubrie Hoover. It was originally published in the Hibbing Tribune.


Whether you find grocery shopping to be a tedious task or look forward to it as a welcomed timeout, it is undeniable that the task itself has a powerful impact on the health of you and your family. What you eat and drink matters! Working in Public Health, this is a message we emphasize over and over again. The choices you make will affect your health – either positively or negatively – now and in the future. 

Eating healthy foods to promote a well-balanced diet can be quite challenging if you don’t have nutritious foods to choose from. Therefore, healthy eating truly begins in the grocery store with the foods you select and bring into your home.  Any person taking part in the grocery shopping process is considered a nutritional gatekeeper. They decide what foods get brought into the home and ultimately what the family eats.

The grocery shopping process begins before you even enter the grocery store. When it comes to grocery shopping there are several ways to plan ahead. Below is a series of strategies to consider before your next grocery store excursion.


  • Looking at weekly shopping ads to plan around sales. 
  • Make a meal plan for the week ahead (or two weeks if you shop bi-weekly).
  • Make a list and stick to it. This helps you avoid those impulse buys.
  • Avoid grocery shopping on an empty stomach to limit the pitfall of buying more than you need because everything looks delectable.

Being a savvy consumer once you reach the grocery store is easier than you think.  These tips may enhance your grocery shopping experience, even if you start by focusing on one tip at a time.


  • Shop the perimeter of the store. This is where you will find the healthiest foods, such as fresh produce, lean meats and poultry, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Buy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables focusing on a variety of colors. If fresh produce isn’t an option for your family, select frozen as the next best option.
  • Focus on lean meats. Look for “loin” such as tenderloin or sirloin. Buy skinless poultry and lower fat ground beef. Try a protein substitute such as beans, eggs or nuts. Try to incorporate fish into your weekly line-up.
  • When purchasing grains (bread, cereals, pasta) focus on making at least half of your grains, whole grains containing four or more grams of fiber per serving. Look for the word “whole” listed as the first ingredient.  
  • Look at selecting low-fat or non-fat dairy products.  You will keep the nutrition but consume less saturated fat. 
  • Limit highly processed foods that tend to be higher in fat, sodium, and additives while offering minimum nutrition such as hotdogs (luncheon meat), frozen dinners, ramen noodles, and pop-tarts to name a few.
  • Spending more upfront for convenience like pre-washed or pre-portioned foods might save you money in the long run if you’re more likely to eat foods requiring minimal preparation.
  • If you know you can’t go down certain aisles without buying an aggressive amount of junk food, it’s probably best to steer clear of the temptation until you can explore it in moderation. 


The next time you find yourself embarking on the grocery shopping experience, remember – as the nutritional gatekeeper, you have a very important role in the health of your family. As the nutritional gatekeeper you are responsible for providing an environment that promotes healthy lifestyle behaviors around food and dietary practices. Since kids learn what they live, role modeling healthy practices now will help your kids or grandkids establish their practices around food and eating for years to come. 

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Author: Dana Kazel

Categories: St. Louis County Spotlight



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Public Information
Dana Kazel 
Room 213
100 N 5th Ave W
Duluth, MN 55802
(218) 725-5049
«May 2018»

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