Essentials for Eaters and Dieters

What's in Your Shopping Cart?

What you buy is what you eat
Below are examples of common shopping carts. Read below and see if one looks similar to yours! With this tool you can learn how to maintain your weight and still buy the foods you love.

Shopping cart #1

This shopping cart contains many calories with very little protein, fruits or vegetables.

Shopping Cart 1Chocolate ice cream – though technically in the dairy food group, this food’s high sugar and saturated fat content places it at the tip of the Food Guide Pyramid. Ice cream is a fine dessert every once in a while. It is healthy to enjoy treats in moderate amounts after you’ve eaten the foods you need from the base of the Food Guide Pyramid.
Frosted Flakes cereal – fortified cereals contain 10-100% of the Daily Value of many vitamins and minerals. This food is easy to fit into a balanced and healthy eating pattern. Since this grain product is low in fiber, this shopper needs to get more fiber from fruits and vegetables.
Packaged Fruit Snacks – there is no ‘fruit’ in these snacks. Fruit snacks are more like candy than anything else. This shopper needs to choose which items he/she will like best as an occasional treat: chocolate ice cream, fruit punch, or fruit snacks.
Fruit Punch – similar to fruit snacks, there may be very little fruit juice involved. Check the labels to make sure that the juices you do buy are 100% real fruit juice.
White bread – this is okay. Whole grain bread is more nutritious, but enriched white bread is fine in a diet full of fruits and vegetables (including fiber-rich legumes like beans and peas). Most “wheat” breads are not nutritionally different from white bread, so compare labels to find 100% whole grain breads.
Jelly –Again, sugary foods like jelly are fine in small amounts. You don’t need it every day.
Diet Cola – drink sparingly. Even though this product is low in calories, it contains artificial sweeteners which can affect your appetite (see Nutrition 101 section)

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Shopping cart #2

Shopping Cart 4This shopping cart is high in saturated fat with no fruits and vegetables. We need to replace some of the saturated fat by choosing low fat or skim milk instead of whole and adding more fruits and vegetables.

Creamy peanut butter – A good source of protein and unsaturated fat.
Sausage links – Contain more saturated fat and cholesterol than protein. These are okay occasionally, but most protein should come from leaner sources.
Velveeta cheese – Cheeses can contain a large amount of saturated fat. Read the labels. If you choose to eat regular cheeses, practice moderation. Most of your calcium should come from low fat sources (low fat or skim milk, legumes, vegetables). There are numerous low fat cheeses on the market today.
Pop tarts – Pop tarts are high in sugar and don't go well with meat and vegetables. Treat them like candy and use sparingly.
Cottage cheese – Low fat varieties of cottage cheese are a great source of protein for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Try it plain, with fruit, or mixed with sweetened low fat yogurt.
Whole milk – Very high in saturated fat. Low fat dairy is better for your heart.
Highly marbled steak – The more marbled a piece of meat, the higher the fat content. Look for leaner meat selections.

Shopping cart #3

Shopping Cart 2This cart needs some work. We’ll need to remove much of the saturated fat (cream cheese, bacon, regular ground beef) and add plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains.

A dozen eggs – Eggs are a good source of protein but they are also high in cholesterol. Eggs can be part of a well-balanced and nutritious diet when limited to 2-3 egg yolks per week (including eggs in baked goods). Egg whites are rich in protein without the cholesterol.
Bacon – This food is high in saturated fat and should be used sparingly. Try leaner smoked meats for variety: turkey bacon, Canadian bacon, lean deli ham, lean sausage
Cream Cheese – Like ice cream, cream cheese belongs in the dairy group. Also like ice cream, the saturated fat content of cream cheese places it at the very tip of the dairy group. Foods high in saturated fat should be limited. Try low fat or whipped cream cheese instead. Whipped cream cheese is fluffed with air so you get less saturated fat in the same volume.

Lowfat Cottage Cheese – a great source of lean protein that works well as part of a meal or a snack.
Ground Beef – A good source of protein, but most varieties are high in saturated fat. Select leaner blends (80-95% lean) and drain the fat after cooking, if possible.
Canned tuna – Large cold water fish like tuna are rich in essential fatty acids (omega 3, omega 6) and highly unsaturated fats. These fats are good for your health. Buy tuna that is packed in water, not vegetable oil, and limit the amount of mayonnaise or salad dressing you add to it.
Cauliflower – A great addition to this cart. Add canned and frozen vegetables for variety. This cart needs some fruit, too.
Salted peanuts – Peanuts are a good source of protein and unsaturated fat. Try unsalted nuts—they taste sweeter and don’t make you thirsty.

Shopping cart #4

Shopping Cart 4This shopping cart is fairly well rounded. Notice that even though not all of the foods are considered ‘healthy’ foods, they can be part of a well-planned weight maintenance diet.

Rice a Roni – a good compliment to a meat and vegetable dish.
Skim milk – By drinking low fat or skim milk, you’re getting all the same protein, vitamins and minerals as whole milk without all the
saturated fat.
Assorted fruits – oranges and pineapple – Whole fruits (fresh and frozen) are high in fiber than juices, and are a great source of essential nutrients. They compliment any meal.
Frozen pizzas – Look for varieties that are lower in saturated fat. Frozen and homemade pizzas generally contain less saturated fat than fast food pizza. Before baking, pile your pizza high with a few extra vegetable toppings: sweet peppers, fresh baby spinach, artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, steamed broccoli, pineapple, onions and mushrooms.
Orange juice – Look for 100% fruit juice and 100% fruit juice blends. Remember that whole fruit satisfies your appetite better than fruit juice, so try to get most of your fruit servings from whole fruit.
Sliced deli turkey – Normally low in fat, a great source of protein.
Loaf of wheat bread – This “wheat” bread is not very different from white bread. Add more servings of fruits and vegetables or choose 100% whole grain bread to get enough fiber.

Shopping cart #5

Shopping Cart 5A well-balanced cart. This cart contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, energy from carbohydrate and very little saturated fat. It needs only a little more lean protein to balance it out. This person may even add some sweets if desired.

Fruit – Low in calories and high in essential nutrients.
Vegetables – High in fiber and essential nutrients, low in calories.
Brown rice – Complex carbohydrate with more fiber than white rice.
Spaghetti noodles – Low fat, low fiber source of carbohydrate that can provide a substantial amount of energy.
Fish – White fish is a low fat meat providing adequate protein. The addition of beans, eggs, low fat milk or another lean source of protein to this cart would ensure adequate protein intake.
Low fat yogurt – Good source of lean protein, calcium and essential nutrients.
Flavored water – Satisfy thirst without adding extra calories.

Essentials for Eaters and Dieters | Version 2.0
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