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health-conscious shopping tips

Shop with a List You'll be less likely to toss random items into your cart if you have a preset list of what you're going to buy. It'll cut down on your time in the store and help you make better choices.

Don't Go Hungry Shop on a full stomach. You'll be less likely to let your stomach do the shopping and more likely to stick to your eating plan.

Limit Your Time Get in and out as fast as possible. If you spend too much time strolling leisurely through the store, you'll leave with a full cart full of diet downfalls.

Eat Right: Shop Healthy Before Your Wedding

Shopping for prepackaged, processed foods is easier, but if you stick to healthy eats, you'll prepare yourself for a nutritionally balanced happily ever after. We've laid out the picks and skips for your shopping cart with our pre-wedding grocery list.

The key to sustainable weight loss? A balanced diet -- do a thorough sweep down these aisles.

Dairy

Essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, dairy products also help to build strong bones, slow bone loss, and reduce fragility.
Skip High-fat dairy products like ice cream, sour cream, and mayonnaise.
Pick Fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt.

Meat

Lean meat contains all of the essential amino acids the body needs and is a great source of protein. Up to 15 times more iron is absorbed by the body from beef than from spinach.
Skip Processed meats like bacon, sausage, and hot dogs -- they're high in fat.
Pick Beef and pork cuts with the terms "loin" or "round." Loins are flavorful, requiring little sauce or seasoning, and are naturally lean. Rounds offer leanness and tenderness. Try beef tenderloin or top round; both are high in protein and zinc.

Fish

This high-protein, low-fat food is immensely important for cardiovascular health. High in omega-3 fatty acids, eating fish helps regulate blood clotting and vessel constriction; omega-3s can also improve the condition of your skin, hair, and nails.
Skip Fish known for high-mercury levels, such as king mackerel and swordfish, which contain nine times as much as "low-mercury" fish like tuna and salmon.
Pick Salmon, tuna, or tilapia -- all are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Grains

Don't skip the carbs! Grains are filling and nutritious; they help to curb an appetite and aid in long-term weight loss. They're also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Skip Less complex carbohydrates and grains like white rice, nonwheat breads and pastas, and any grain high in refined sugar. Grain products with high amounts of refined sugar and flour raise insulin levels in the blood, which depresses the immune system and leads to fat storage and weight gain.
Pick Whole grain pastas, breads, and cereals that are high in fiber, B vitamins, and magnesium. These complex carbs will create fuel for your body and leave you feeling fuller and more satisfied.

Vegetables

The perfect energy source, vegetables are typically low in calories, so you can fill up on them. Flooded with fiber and nutrients, vegetables help boost energy.
Skip Veggies doused in butter, oils, and cheese sauce -- especially prevalent in frozen dinners. The high salt and fat content of these extras cancel out the health qualities of the vegetables.
Pick A variety of fresh or frozen vegetables without the extras. Try these veggie heroes: Broccoli is rich in vitamins A and C; tomatoes are high in flavonoids that help prevent heart disease and cancer; and the vitamin B in mushrooms helps with red blood cell functioning.

Beverages

The never-ending aisles of beverages can be hard to navigate, but sticking with the right drinks will help hydrate your body, give you the necessary nutrients to strengthen your immune system, and regulate body temperature -- essential for a busy bride- or groom-to-be.
Skip Steer clear of any beverages high in sugar, especially fruit juices (fresh-squeezed is a different story), sodas, and fatty milk products, which contain "empty calories." Soda is especially bad for you because it contains phosphoric acid, which may contribute to bone loss.
Pick Sparkling water, antioxidant-rich teas, 100 percent fruit juices (try half water, half juice to cut calories and get more water in your diet), or diet soda. It's better to forgo the soda indefinitely, but if you're really craving one, make it a diet, which doesn't contain all the sugar.

Snacks

A snack isn't just a treat -- it's a way to maintain your energy throughout the day. Healthy snacking helps you maintain a higher metabolism, lower cholesterol, and keep your body alert (read: no energy mid-afternoon energy crash).
Skip Prepackaged unhealthy snacks, such as chips, cookies, or candies. While those 100-calorie cookie snacks may seem like a good idea for portion control, they're not filling, so you're more likely to snack more often.
Pick Opt for a mix of lean protein and high fiber snacks, such as a low-fat cheese stick and whole wheat crackers. Eating small snacks two to three times a day helps create lean muscle and decrease overall body fat.

Grocery Shopping Cheat Sheet

Beverages
Sparkling water
Antioxidant-rich tea
100 percent fruit juices

Dairy
Low-fat or fat-free milk
Low-fat or fat-free yogurt
Egg whites or egg substitutes

Fish
Salmon
Tuna
Tilapia

Grains
Whole grain pastas
Multigrain breads
High-fiber cereals

Meat
Beef and pork cuts with the terms "loin" or "round"
Beef tenderloin
Pork top loin roast

Vegetables
Fresh or frozen vegetables without the extra sauce
Cauliflower
Spinach
Carrots

Snacks
Low-fat cheese sticks
Whole wheat crackers
Fruit: apples, pears and oranges

-- Tia Albright

Source: Dr. Susan Mitchell, PhD, RD, FADA, and author of Fat is Not Your Fate, and SusanMitchell.org

See More: Getting in Shape