Grocery Shopping 101: Your Guide to the Cereal, Bread and Snack Aisles

Article posted in: Nutrisystem
cereal

Your Nutrisystem diet plan gets you started on the path to weight loss by providing you with a variety of nutritionally balanced meals and snacks, all prepared using high-quality ingredients. As you feel and see the results of eating a healthy diet—the pounds melting away—you’ll be ready to begin shopping for good food for yourself.

Supermarkets offer you so much more selection than ever before. The bread, cereal and snacks aisles can be especially overwhelming, because many of the products make confusing claims about their nutritional benefits. But with the information here, you’re sure to find the healthiest options for you.

Before we get to the specifics in each category, let’s talk about carbohydrates, the primary nutrient in grain-based foods such as bread, cereal and most packaged snacks. Simple carbohydrates, like the white flour used in many of these items, digest rapidly, giving your body a quick but very brief energy boost that leaves you hungry again when it’s over. SmartCarbs are high in fiber, which keeps you feeling full long after you eat and helps to sustain energy levels. With SmartCarbs such as whole grains, you also get B vitamins, iron and other essential vitamins and minerals. A serving of SmartCarbs has 80 to 120 calories and at least one gram of fiber.

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BREAD

Look for: 100 percent whole grains. Bread that’s brown or labeled “wheat bread” is not necessarily a SmartCarb choice. Products can be labeled “whole grain” if only 51 percent of the ingredients qualify. Instead look for labels that say “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain.” While you’re at it, look at the sodium content—good choices have no more than than 200 milligrams per slice.

Beware of: “Enriched bleached flour” or “wheat flour” are other terms for white flour, which is lower in fiber. While these flours are OK in moderation, try to make most of your choices whole grain. Also pass on any bread that contains sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup.

Best options: For maximum nutrition, try bread made from grains such as whole barley, brown rice, whole oats or whole flax.

CEREAL

Look for: As with bread, the key to finding healthy cereals is in checking the ingredient list. You want to find those with “100% whole grain.” Also look for the amount of fiber—popular cereals range from less than one gram to more than 10 grams per serving. The higher the fiber content, the healthier the cereal is likely to be. Granola can be a healthy food, but many brands contain excessive amounts of added sugar and fats. Some store-bought brands contain as much as 25 grams of the sweet stuff.

Beware of: Even with whole grain cereals, too much sweetener can ruin an otherwise good choice. Dried fruits, such as raisins, blueberries or cranberries, provide extra nutrients but in many cases they are coated with sugar.

Best options: Cooked grains, such as oatmeal or quinoa, have the most fiber, so they keep you feeling full longest. You can also flavor your hot cereal with nutritious ingredients such as fresh fruit, nuts or calorie-free cinnamon. Or try Nutrisystem’s Granola Cereal, Sweetened O’s, NutriFlakes, Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal or Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal for a guilt-free take on all your morning staples.

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SNACKS

Look for: You may find many varieties of chips, pretzels and crackers made with whole grains, but even the best of these products can be high in fat and sodium. If you’re craving a crunchy snack, flavored kale chips or chickpeas roasted until crisp and seasoned with spices are healthy choices that are widely available

Beware of: “Energy” or granola bars are often loaded with sweeteners—be sure to read the labels and choose those with the most fiber and the least amount of sugar. Sweet snacks, such as cookies, that claim to be a healthy choice because they are low in fat—or even fat-free—often contain even more sugar than their standard counterparts.

Best options: Whole foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruit and unsalted nuts, provide you with vitamins and minerals, and they keep you energized between meals. Or, try our Top 20 Nutrisystem Snacks and Sweets!