Learning to Grocery Shop

I’m sure that if you have any interest at all in eating healthily, you’ve read or been told to “shop the perimeter of the store.” What exactly does that mean? Today I found out.

The dietician at the hospital where I attend the diabetes support group arranged a tour at the supermarket across the street from the hospital. As we walked through the store, we “shopped the perimeter.” We started in the produce department, took a quick stroll through the in-store bakery on our way to the meat department. We stopped and examined various packages of fruits and vegetables and in the meat department she pointed out some “bare naked” chicken to us. This was chicken breast totally stripped of skin and fat. Moving on to the display of pork, she pointed out the marbling we should avoid and we inspected the ground beef for fat content as well.

We veered down one aisle where this particular store has lots of whole grains and its bulk bins. We were just barely inside the interior of the store. We walked over a few rows and inspected the soup display for sodium content and serving sizes. As it happened, the cereals were on the facing side of that aisle so we checked those out for fiber. We came out of that aisle and headed for the fresh seafood.

From seafood we explored part of an aisle of frozen foods for plain vegetables, packaged meals meant to be steamed and other frozen items. Here, again, we were checking mainly for sodium content. Back out of that aisle we headed for the dairy section where we checked out milk, yogurt and cheese options. Our tour ended at that point … and we’d walked all around the perimeter of the store and made only short sorties into interior aisles.

This particular supermarket also has a healthy product program and marks those items with a “be healthy” mark. Of course, we were also looking for the American Heart Association’s mark indicating a heart healthy item.

I’m going to challenge myself to shop the perimeter more in the future when I go to my own supermarket. I do that to some extent but wander down other aisles in the interior where I don’t really need to go.

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