My Essential Healthy Grocery Shopping List

Last week, I wrote a lengthy post on my struggles with overeating, weight gain/loss and the relationship our culture has with food. Rather than focusing on our past habits, I believe the best way to build new habits and stay committed to living a healthy lifestyle is by focusing on the future and what we can do differently today to improve ourselves.

Depending on how you look at it, grocery shopping can be a blessing or a curse for your healthy lifestyle. Stepping into Whole Foods hungry is never a good plan for anyone, and if you’re anything like me, your eyes are usually much bigger than your stomach!

Make sure you go into it with some idea of the items you’ll need, or else you’ll end up snatching every box of gluten free cookies that calls your name. Allow yourself a few essential items, plus a few spontaneous snacks you didn’t plan on (we don’t want to suck all the fun out of grocery shopping, do we?).

Grocery shopping is truly one of my favourite activities. I find it so calming, and I could spend hours reading ingredients lists, checking out the fun new sparkling sodas, or just perusing the aisles. Since I started eating lower carb, paleo alternatives, it’s become even more of a fun process because I get to check out all the healthy and delicious creations that are available today.

I think people today are becoming increasingly aware of what’s in their food and how it affects their health, and I love that food trends are moving towards mostly plant-based, natural ingredients. I know I’ve learned a crazy amount in just the past couple of years since being diagnosed with diabetes, and it has been such a blessing to overhaul my food choices and really take a look at the things I’m putting in my body.

Sticking to a low-carb/paleo diet is easy when you come prepared. Fail to prepare, and prepare to fail! I always make sure to stock up on my favourite healthy carbs, proteins, fats and treats so I make it easy on myself to reach for something nourishing when I’m starved.

I’m always expanding my grocery list, but here are a few essentials I wouldn’t be able to live without:

1. Protein Powder. Great for smoothies, mug cakes, protein balls and more, protein powder is a life saver for breakfasts and snacks on the go. Sometimes, you just don’t feel like eating a slab of meat for breakfast, but you still need to make sure you eat something with a high protein content and low carb content to keep you satiated throughout the day. Try to find a brand with at least 20 grams of protein per scoop – I like Vega’s chocolate and vanilla flavours.

2. Quest Bars. Another essential for easy snacking and breakfast on the go, these bars have saved my life the past couple of years! While there is some controversy over the fibre content of the bar and questionable ingredients, I think of them as a treat because they taste so good, and surely they’re better than munching on a Kit Kat every day. The bars have around 20 grams of protein and about 7 grams of carbs each, so they’re a great snack between meals.

3. Nuts and nut butters. Cashews, almonds, macadamias, oh my! I really have to be careful of these foods because they’re super caloric, can become high carb if you eat enough of them, and very easy to overeat. That said, they are also nutritious, convenient and a great source of fat to keep you feeling full. Make sure you measure out your portions beforehand (aim for a quarter cup handful as a snack or in a salad) so you don’t binge like I did!

4. Lean protein sources like chicken, turkey and fish, eggs and tofu products. White meats are perfect for lunches and dinner because of their high protein content and zero carb content, and tofu is another great protein source for when you don’t feel like eating meat. I like having tofu sausages, eggs and salad for brunch on weekends. Truthfully, I would prefer not to eat meat, but you just can’t beat that zero carb content on chicken and turkey. But that’s a whole other can of worms for another post.

5. Low carb veggies. This is the part where you throw a bunch of green things in your basket and call it a day! Asparagus, broccoli, bok choy, Swiss chard, spinach, the list goes on… Anything green and leafy is excellent for pairing with your protein source. Although it’s white, cauliflower is also an excellent and versatile vegetable for low carb diets.

So there you have it! There are many more items I could have listed here, but I’m sticking to the basics in this post. These items have been my lifeline throughout this health journey of mine, and I’m so excited to discover more nutritious and yummy alternatives to the foods our culture loves.

One simple change can go a long way. Whether it’s starting to take your coffee black or drinking more water, it’s always worth it to focus on your health.

While I prefer a low carb diet because of my diabetes (and also, let’s face it, focusing on eating more protein and fewer carbs is a much easier way to stay fuller for longer, kick your hunger and break the carb addiction cycle), it may not work for you!

What are some of your grocery list essentials? I would love to hear from you.

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