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Dietitians Dish: Try shopping cart makeover

Dec. 21, 2010 at 6:21 a.m.

Linda Crisp

By Linda CrispWant a handy reminder to choose healthy, nutritious foods every time you go the grocery store? It's right at the tip of your fingers. The standard grocery cart.

The grocery cart you push around the store is the perfect shopping makeover tool. The small basket section of the cart can be reserved for items you know should be limited or restricted in your diet such as sweets, salty items, or foods with high amounts of saturated fat. Most of us pick up these items for limited or occasional use. If you stick them in the small basket area you'll 1) See them plainly instead of mixing them in with your healthy purchases, and 2) Be reminded to limit your purchases of these foods by the small size of the basket section.

Let's see how this could work on your next shopping trip:

In the fresh produce section, these items can all go into the large basket area. Place your tender fresh veggies and fruits where they won't get squashed, and away from raw meats. Choose a colorful variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, and don't forget nutritious potatoes, onions, peppers and garlic.

As you move through the store, the low-fat cheese, lean meat, fish and poultry can all go into the big section of the cart. Occasional purchases of high-fat bacon, sausage, or processed meats, and high-fat cheese now must go into the small basket section.

All grains, cereals and breads that are whole grain, with little or no sugar, go right in the large basket, but sugary cereals, cookies, low-fiber breads and salted, high-fat crackers and chips get banished to the small basket section.

Pretty soon, some choices will have to be made. For example: Skim or 1-percent milk will have to be your choice for the large basket section because the small basket where the whole milk would have to go is already filled up with the chips and dip that you bought for a special occasion.

There's still plenty of room in the large part of the cart for plain frozen vegetables, yogurt, reduced-fat ice cream and a vegetarian pizza.

If you have children or a friend shopping with you, everyone can get in on the fun deciding where to put the foods.

We could all start seeing our shopping cart as our new best ally in the quest for healthy eating. Just think how proud you'll be of your food choices in the check out line, and how great you'll feel when you eat all of that healthy food.

Linda Crisp is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian who is a Board Certified Spec ialist in Oncology Nutrition. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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