I frequently tell my clients that good weight loss programs start with bringing healthy food into the house and eating out less frequently.  Cook or at least assemble your meals at home and you will be on your way to healthy eating for weight loss.

It is estimated that every time we eat out we consume an additional 200 calories, but I think restaurant dining, with its huge portions and heavy reliance on butter and salt, as flavor enhancers, adds many more calories than estimated.

But, navigating the grocery store without chips, dips and cookies jumping into your cart can be a tricky endeavor. The only way to construct a good weight loss program is to bring healthy foods into the house and banish the junk.

10 Tips from Nutritionists to Make the Most of Your Shopping Experience

1. Make a List

Know your grocery store and go with a list of healthy foods in the order they are laid out. That will help you resist temptation, and it speeds up shopping because you’re not wasting time cruising the aisles for what you need.”

2. Don’t Go Hungry

“Healthy eating choices start with the groceries you have on hand. Grocery shop with a plan and shopping list. Do not attempt to grocery shop when you are hungry, as you will be surprised at the significant number of impulse buys in your cart.”

3. Pick Lots of Produce

“In my experience, most people tend to under-shop the produce department. Remember: We’re supposed to be eating five servings of veggies a day. As a rule, vegetables should take up at least a third — or even half — of the real estate on your plate.”

4. Stock Up On Canned Foods

“Many shoppers overlook the canned foods aisle because they don’t realize that canned fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh and frozen. Plus, canned foods are always available. I stock my pantry with canned veggies, fruits, legumes and broths so I can make a healthy meal in minutes.”

5. Go Plain

“The original versions (most often plain-flavored) foods and beverages — like cereals, soy milk, yogurt, pasta sauces and more, are usually the most nutritious. That’s because as brands extend product lines, they move into more decadent offerings that cost more and have worse nutritional profiles.”

6. Be Selective When Buying Organic

“My best tip, and the one I use for myself always, is to buy produce according to the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists. Buying all organic isn’t realistic for most

[people] … but you can easily and affordably minimize pesticide exposure when you buy according to the lists.”

7. Read the Label

“Bypass the front of the package and rely mainly on the nutrition facts panel and ingredients lists. If you’re looking to bump up fiber or protein intake, or lower fat/saturated fat intake, the nutrition facts panel can be a one-stop shop for all nutrients and can simplify the process of comparing products.”

8. Try Something New

“Trying something new? Use the bulk food aisle to scoop up a small portion of buckwheat or bulgur or millet or dried beans.”

9. Don’t Buy At Eye-Level

“Look high and low on store shelves for the least expensive items in their category — and often the most nutritious. Brands pay higher slotting fees to be placed at eye level, and those costs are generally passed on to consumers.”

10. Do a Final Check

“Before you pull into the checkout line, pull over and do a final cart check. Make sure your cart has visually 50 percent fruits and veggies, 25 percent lean and plant proteins, 25 percent whole grains — and don’t forget to double check there are enough healthy fats.”

Follow the rules of these expert nutritionists and you’ll be well on your way to creating a good weight loss program.

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