[pull_quote_right]Having a healthy kitchen is a vital component to maintaining a healthy life. This process actually starts with shopping. Cooking healthy meals in the kitchen is only possible if you have the right ingredients, so it is important to know how to navigate supermarket aisles[/pull_quote_right]

Staying healthy and even staying slim starts with the smart choices you make when grocery shopping. Winning the battle of a diet plan can only happen if you choose the right foods at a supermarket. Moreover, even if you are not on a diet, your choices are very important due to hidden dangers at grocery stores. From the entrance of a grocery store to reading food labels, there are many things that you should be aware of. As you all know, cooking healthy meals in your kitchen is only possible if you have the right ingredients, right?Supermarket shopping generally is an overwhelming task due mainly to the abundant choices you see before you on the shelves. I know it is hard to read all the labels, look out for the cleanest item and choose from among the best buys. Although it is a time consuming task, understand that selecting the right items will add to your life either in terms of quality or time.

The first thing you should do is plan your shopping trip ahead of time. Make a list before going out to the grocery store in order to avoid buying things that you don’t need. Have you ever wondered why they make the entrance doors on the right side and make you stroll counterclockwise inside? Well, studies have shown that if you shop clockwise you only buy the things you need, but if you shop counterclockwise you buy all that crap in the middle aisles. It only takes a few minutes to write down a list before heading out, but it actually saves you a lot of time inside.

The second thing you should aim for is not to shop on an empty stomach. An empty stomach urges your brain to buy more, and may not lead you to the healthiest options in the end. Making the list also protects this phase of your shopping. And don’t forget that if you are only shopping for food, make a list in accordance with the food pyramid. Have fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy, lean meat or fish, beans, and so on written down on your list. And avoid writing down the unhealthy snacks, although they catch your eye with their colorful packages. The food pyramid lets you choose from the varieties beforehand, rather than going out and buying the most purchased item in the store – just like choosing sweet potatoes instead of regular ones.

When you enter a grocery store, the store welcomes you with the fruit and veget

able section. Yet you need to be cautious when choosing your veggies and fruits. Some groceries have fruits or veggies in front of the store outside; stay away from them. Since most produce is treated with pesticides, why buy the ones that have additional exhaust discharge or street dust on them? You can find all the same products inside as well, so go for them instead. Ask the clerk what day they received the produce and put them on shelves so that you can buy them at their ripest. The best advantage of supermarkets is that you can choose every single item by hand instead of random selection, which makes it an elective shopping experience. Additionally, keep in mind how much you need and don’t buy excessively, so that it doesn’t get thrown in the trash.After buying produce, then you stroll towards the protein aisle where you choose from meat, fish and poultry. It is quite tricky here, and people get fooled a lot. The market butcher might have placed red lights in the meat aisle, which is a trick that makes meat appear fresher. Almost all doctors and medical associations advise people to eat two servings of fish per week, so now you know where to start. Here comes the question that everyone asks, though: How can we know whether the fish is fresh or not? Five things are important when selecting a fish. First, fresh fish have clear and full eyes; second, their flesh should be firm and their scales should be shiny; third, if you press your finger against the flesh, it should not break the skin; fourth, fins should be bright and red; and lastly, the color on the edges should be yellow and brown. When buying red meat, go for the grass-fed kinds, and for poultry, your one and only option should be buying organic.

The next step is to go to the dairy aisle. Some countries sell dairy fortified with vitamin D, so it can be a great source. Even if your grocery store doesn’t offer fortified dairy, it is still a great source of calcium. The trick here is to buy dairy that is low fat instead of whole fat or skimmed. When you select whole milk, you certainly get more fat, and if you remove all the fat from dairy what is left behind is sugar in milk. So even in minimal amounts, we need the fat inside to keep it balanced. But if you still like the higher fat options, it is fine to buy them, but of course keeping portions limited is important.

Healthy food storage is also another important step to keep your foods safer at home after coming back from your grocery store. Do not consume products such as sprouting potatoes when stored under improper conditions. Make sure you consume perishable foods like meat, fish, chicken and seafood within 48 hours after defrosting. Since they retain their nutritional value, you can safely choose from frozen meats if you are sure that they have been stored correctly. If you are buying packaged chicken, make sure that its skin is shiny and lighter colored. Another important thing is to freeze your fish and poultry after removing their internal organs. Fresh vegetables, eggs and fruit are perishable, and they should be kept refrigerated and consumed within one week after buying. Sugar, flour and beans are non-perishable, but they should be stored in glass or mouth vacuumed jars after purchasing. If you have purchased frozen food and keep them in the freezer, have them defrost in your fridge instead of in your kitchen so that it does not encourage bacterial growth. If they are defrosted and you have not consumed them, the only option is to throw them away. Following all these steps and more will keep your food safer at home. Now go ahead, be smart shopper and win your health in the aisles of your grocery store.