How to make healthy choices at the supermarket

Nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin shares how you can make sure your trolley is packed with smart food picks for the whole family.

So many options on grocery store shelves can lead to confusion when it comes to making healthy food choices for the family.

A report by the Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll says 57 per cent of parents struggle to establish which foods are healthy.

It also says parents are giving their children too many treat foods, such as biscuits, lollies and soft drinks, with 41 per cent of pre-schoolers getting treat food most days of the week.

House of Wellness nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin says parents can feel overwhelmed about deciding what to give their children.

“Clever marketing creates much confusion,” Zoe, 39, says.

“Statements such as ‘natural’ or ‘no artificial colours’ can be misleading and make parents think they’re buying healthy options, when in fact the product may actually not be a good choice nutrition wise.”

Reading food labels

  • Aim for less than 5g of sugar and no more than 10g per 100g serve
  • Select products with less than 4g saturated fat per 100g serve

What to watch out for

Zoe says the most common products that trip up parents are muesli bars, flavoured yoghurts, cereals and natural fruit juice.

“When reading ingredients lists look for added sugar, artificial colours and flavourings and preservatives, and try to buy products with as few ingredients as possible,” she advises.

“If buying a muesli bar made from oats, make sure the first ingredient is oats as opposed to sugar.”

How to make smarter choices

Zoe says there’s plenty parents can do to ensure their kids are getting the right food to fuel their growing bodies.

“Try to support children in developing an interest in vegetables by taking them to the markets, starting a home garden or encouraging children to help prep dinner using the vegetables they selected from the markets or shops,” she says.

To address health issues in children who are overweight or obese, Zoe advises it’s all about making small changes.

“Avoid singling out one child, and encourage and emphasise a healthy lifestyle for the whole family,” she says.

“This may involve prioritising home-cooked dinners, eating out less often and scheduling in outdoor activities, such as bike riding or bush walks, as a weekend activity. It’s about creating a sustainable lifestyle for the whole family.”

Get more healthy food tips and recipes from Zoe Bingley-Pullin, and more delicious and nutritious recipes the entire family will love.

In search of… Shopping Healthy with Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Written by Erin Miller

Originally published on 23 April 2018.