Girl 1: I ran 3 miles today.
Girl 2: Good for you! I walked 2!
Girl 1: That's awesome! What are you gonna have for dinner?
Girl 2: Frozen Lasagna. It's organic.
Girl 1: Mmmm. Me too! I can't wait for summer, we're gonna be so skinny!
Yeah, sorry to say girls, it doesn't exactly work that way.
If you ask me, I'd say healthy eating starts at the grocery store. If you don't have crap food in the house, you can't eat it. Problem is knowing what exaclty is crap food, and how to avoid it ever making it into your pantry in the first place. Now keep in mind, just like any other skill, smart grocery shopping habits are going to take practice. Hopefully though, this provides you with a little jumping off point.
8 Tips For Grocery Shopping For Weight Loss:
1.) Make a list. Yes, I know, you already knew this one. But it's incredibly important. A list gives you baseline so you're not wondering willy-nilly up and down isles of nutritional landmines, not to mention something to fiddle with when you pass devil's food cake mix and need to keep your hands busy in order to make sure it doesn't "magically" end up in your cart.
On that note, make sure your list needs is done right. This means list things you need, not things you want. Out of Ho-Ho's? Fine. Do you need more? No. You may want more, but that doesn't mean they go on the list. The longer you can go without junk food in your house the better. So leave the Ho-Ho's off.
2.) Pay with cash, and bring only the amount you need. This is rather old school, but it works. Most people go to the grocery store with the best intentions of spending a certain amount and buying nutritious food, so they become frustrated when, once again, they go over budget and end up with a cabinet full of mac-n-cheese and Oreos. Paying with cash (and only bringing cash) gives you an absolute budget, which means there's no room for bargaining with that inner child. Think the itemse on your grocery list are going to cost roughly $26? Bring $28. That way, as soon as you have the items on your list, you won't be able to go back for the Ho-Ho's because you simply can't afford it.
This, combined with making a list, will give you a game plan before you ever get into the store. It gives you a leg up on all that temptation you're sure to encounter.
4.) Beware of the health food trap. Low-fat, organic, low-carb, "great source of protein"; these are all phrases that can be absurdly misleading. Just because something is low-fat doesn't mean it's health food. Look at the candy bar known as a Salted Nut Roll. Right on the package it says, "A great source of protein." Well sure it is, it's covered in peanuts, and the 13 grams of protein found in a King Size Bar aren't all that bad, but the 40 grams of sugar? Not so good.
Same thing with the term "organic". Organic basically means the food was grown without the use of pesticides, but the general nutitional information of the product is going to be the same. Let me be clear on this: "organic" does not necessarily mean "healthy" (as the girls quoted in the above conversation obviously didn't know). I'd recommend choosing organic with foods with edible skins (apples, pears, tangerines, etc). With foods that have removable skins (oranges, bananas, avacados), or are more processed (soup) I wouldn't worry about it too much. Your money is better spent elsewhere.
6.) Watch the extras. Canned peaches and pears are great, but when they're packed in heavy syrup, you might as well be eating a donut while working the stairmaster. When buying canned tuna get the kind packed in water, not oil. When buying frozen veggies get the kind without the sauce. All of these little extras add up to a huge calorie intake, so avoid them whenever possible.
7.) Stay focused. This is my personal downfall. "I think I want to make tacos for dinner, but ooooh bbq sauce! Maybe I should make shredded bbq chicken sandwhiches instead. I haven't made sandwhiches in awhile. Or paninis! I need roasted red peppers for paninis. I could make roasted red pepper hummus! Or pesto! Mmm pesto manicotti would be good..." and before you know it I've completely blown my list. Get what's on the list, and get out of the store. Think about it, the entire place is specifically designed to make you buy as much food as possible. Why would you want to hang out in an environment like that?
8.) Try something different. Pick up at least one random thing in the produce section. Try a grapple (grape crossed with an apple) starfruit, dates, fennel, spaghetti squash, or artichokes. How do you know you haven't found your favorite food yet? I tried "ugly fruit" a couple weeks ago, and it's delicious! Like a cross between an orange and a grapefruit (but super sweet, seedless, and oh-so juicy), I had no idea what I was missing out on!