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Shopping Tips for When You're Counting Calories

From the produce section to the snack-food aisle, how to pick foods that will make losing weight easier.
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WebMD Feature from "EatingWell"

Shopping TipsWhen you are grocery shopping your goal is to stock up on healthy food and only buy what you truly need. But remember that your supermarket’s goal is to get you to buy as much as possible! Between enticing free samples and displays filled with junk food, you will need to be prepared for temptation. Here are a few tips to keep you on course one aisle at a time.

Produce

Let yourself be seduced here; fill your cart with plenty of colorful produce. Aim to try something new each week—an exotic fruit, or a vegetable you’ve never seen before—even if it costs a little more. You might discover a new healthy passion. Likewise, prewashed, ready-to-eat produce like salad mixes, baby carrots and broccoli/cauliflower florets may seem a splurge, but not if they get you to grab them instead of chips when you’re craving a snack. (Admit it: would you pinch pennies so vigorously in the snack-food aisle?)

Poultry/Fish/Meat

If convenience is all-important, go for skinless poultry cuts and boneless for quickest cooking. You’ll save some calories and fat by choosing white meat over dark, too—but don’t sweat the difference if you’re planning to broil or grill; most of the fat will drip off anyway. For ground chicken or turkey, make sure you’re getting lean breast meat without skin added (read the label).

In the fish department, you can opt for white-fleshed fish for fewest calories, but don’t forget fatty fish like salmon or tuna, which contain omega-3 fatty acids that dramatically lower your risk of heart attack and stroke if eaten regularly; just choose a moderate portion to keep a lid on calories. Ask which fish is freshest (or check the Date Packed if it’s precut) and reject anything that looks suspect or smells fishy (if it’s wrapped in plastic, fillets should be firm to the touch, with no liquid in the package—a sign of improper thawing). Frozen fish is just fine—and sometimes it’s the "freshest" choice. Just be sure to thaw it properly: overnight in the refrigerator.

Many successful weight-loss veterans make red meat a special-occasion rather than daily purchase, since it’s higher in saturated fat. Look for cuts with "loin" or "round" in the title, and select well-trimmed cuts with the least visible fat. Choose ground beef labeled "90% lean" or higher.

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