Healthcare & Fitness

Tips For Making The Right Food Choices



Food shopping: tips for making the right choices

It is estimated that one third of products bought in supermarkets are impulse purchases, i.e. they are not initially planned by the buyer. However, these purchases are most often “pleasure products”, rarely good for health and for the line, because it is easier to crack for a chocolate bar than for a kilo of apples. PasseportSanté gives you advice to optimize your food shopping.

Prepare your shopping list

Going to the supermarket without a shopping list is the best way to wander through the aisles looking for items that would remind us of what we have forgotten, and therefore to be tempted by products that are not only unnecessary, but also not very good for your health. On the other hand, preparing a shopping list allows you to optimize your time, your budget and the content of your basket.


The idea is also to organize your shopping list according to the location of the shelves in the store. In this way, you limit the number of return trips and therefore the temptations found in the other departments.

1. R. Thut Borner, Never shop on an empty stomach,, 2012

Planning your weekly menus not only increases your chances of achieving a balanced diet, but also allows you to put only the bare necessities on your shopping list, thus saving time and money. Indeed, there is no risk of doing too much shopping or, on the contrary, of not doing enough and spending time in the store.

This way of planning leaves little room for the unexpected, so it is not excluded to buy a few extras reasonably

Beware of nutritional or health claims and light products

Some food products may include nutritional claims on their packaging such as “high fiber” or health claims by marking the presence of certain minerals or vitamins1.

These claims are highly regulated, e.g., a “high fiber” food means that a 100 g serving of that product covers 30% of the recommended daily allowance for that nutrient, whereas the same serving of a “source of fiber” food would only cover 15% of the recommended daily allowance for that nutrient. The regulation therefore ensures that this information is not misleading.

However, it would be wrong to confuse these health claims with a health product. Indeed, a product can be rich in certain nutrients but be unhealthy, because this information does not say anything about the content of refined sugars or bad fats in the product. It is therefore quite possible to find muffins that are sources of fiber in a department, but they are still treats to be consumed in moderation.

In the same vein, low-fat products, or lightare not necessarily the friend of diets. In fact, fat contributes to the feeling of satiety after a meal. Consuming a low-fat product therefore makes us feel fuller for less time, which encourages us to snack.

In addition, to compensate for the loss of consistency or flavor, as in the case of yogurt, the manufacturer may add thickeners and sugar. The product is therefore low in fat, but in the end it is no better for the health than its regular equivalent. Similarly, “low-sugar” products are not necessarily lower in calories than their counterparts.

1. European Food Safety Authority, FAQs on Nutrition and Health Claims,, 2013
2. What’s really in low-fat products,, 2014

Read product labels

To avoid being tricked by attractive packaging and healthful formulations, it’s crucial to learn how to read product labels.

First, you need to know that ingredients, as they appear on packaging, are ranked according to their importance in the product. The first ingredient is therefore the one that is present in the greatest quantity in the final product, and the last ingredient is the one that is least present. The first 3 ingredients generally give an idea of the quality of the product.

It is also important to understand the ingredients on the list. Some manufacturers may multiply the names of the same ingredient so that it does not appear first in the list. For example, sugar can be called “glucose syrup”, “fructose syrup”, “maltodextrin” or “corn syrup”.

In the same way, the mention “vegetable oil” without precision often betrays the presence of palm oil, which can be found in large quantities in sweet products and prepared meals, but which contributes considerably to deforestation1.

Finally, beware of long lists of ingredients that are highly likely to contain preservatives, flavors, dyes and other chemical additives.

The nutritional values give a more precise idea of the proportions of nutrients contained in the product. However, they are often given for 100 g of product and not for a portion. It is therefore necessary to make a quick conversion to find out what you are really getting. It can also be useful to know what the quantities actually represent: know that 5 g of sugar represent a level teaspoon of sugar and 5 g of fat a teaspoon of oil.

1. E. Grundmann, Palm oil remains a powerful agent of deforestation,, 2013

Prefer raw foods

To be sure of what you’re eating, there’s nothing like buying raw foods, i.e. all unprocessed products such as fruits and vegetables, legumes, cereals, oilseeds… which constitute an ingredient by themselves.

We avoid all preservatives, artificial flavors, coloring, sweeteners, and we control the sugar, fat and salt content of what we cook.

If the budget allows it, organic foods – recognizable by their label – guarantee less pesticide residues. It is sometimes necessary to check the ingredients of frozen foods, such as vegetables, to ensure that there are no added fats or other additives.

Obviously, this is just an ideal to strive for, as preparing meals takes time. For those in a hurry, a careful analysis of the labels will help you choose your meals.

Don’t go to the supermarket on an empty stomach

Between the shelves of chocolates, pastries, sweetened drinks, supermarkets concentrate all the temptations for the consumers, and it is all the more difficult to resist them when you are hungry or thirsty.

In this case, we are indeed driven by the sole purpose of satisfying ourselves as quickly as possible and we become vulnerable to impulse buying1. Our appetite is all the more stimulated as everything is done to make us want to eat, we think in particular of the smell of bread and pastries just out of the oven.

A simple rule to avoid throwing yourself on any fatty and sweet product is to go shopping after having eaten or at a time of the day when you are not hungry. In addition, this avoids exceeding your budget.

Several studies have gone further, showing that consumers who ate something healthy or supposedly healthy, such as an apple or a “healthy cookie” before shopping, bought more fruits and vegetables than those who ate nothing, or nothing healthy2.

1. R. Thut Borner, Never shop on an empty stomach,, 2012
2. L. Meganem, Eating an apple can impact the way you shop,, 2015

Craving for the right products

Since indulgence is not forbidden, and on the contrary, it is important to indulge yourself, you can also include snacks on your shopping list, but here again, some choices are better than others, and reading labels is key.

Taking your time to compare products makes for the best choice. If you can’t do without chocolate, for example, you’ll prefer a bar of dark chocolate to a bar of milk chocolate because the former contains less sugar. And as it is the dose that makes the poison, there is nothing to prevent you from occasionally consuming gourmet products.

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