A key step to staying healthy or starting new healthy habits is learning how to buy the right foods at the store. With so many options, choosing healthy foods can be overwhelming—but March is National Nutrition Month and the perfect time to start establishing better eating habits. Healthy eating plays a critical role in cancer prevention, and a balanced diet can help you reduce your cancer risk. Get ready to shop for your next meal with these tips:
- Be prepared with a list
Plan what you need before going to the grocery store. This will prevent you from wandering down aisles and impulsively tossing unnecessary items―like packaged chips, cookies or snacks―into your cart.
- Ignore the displays
Food companies pay grocery stores big bucks to place their products in prime spots. Don’t be enticed by the flashy displays at the end of aisles or the junk food at the register.
- Shop local
Ask your grocer about the fresh and local produce in the store. It’s often less expensive, since it does not have to be shipped, and the produce will be the freshest available. Produce loses nutrients and flavor the longer it sits out.
- Load up on veggies
An easy way to eat healthier and add more nutrients to your meal is to eat more vegetables. You may think you’re eating enough, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that less than nine percent of American adults eat enough vegetables. For lunch and dinner, the CDC recommends you eat about 1 ½ cups of vegetables at each meal.
- Skip the processed meat
Eating too much red and processed meat can increase your risk of cancer. Replace beef, pork, ham, bacon, sausage and hot dogs with fish and poultry. You can also get protein from non-meat sources like beans, quinoa, tofu or nuts.
- Stick to your budget with frozen foods
Frozen fruits and veggies can be a cheaper and healthy alternative to fresh produce. Just stay away from veggies with added butter or sauce and fruits with added sugar.
Before you put any food in your grocery cart, always read the Nutrition Facts and ingredients list. Stay away from foods with more than 16 grams of sugar or a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce. By filling your cart with fresh produce, whole grains and lean proteins, you can help reduce your cancer risk. To learn more about healthy eating and cancer prevention, visit preventcancer.org.