Here are some tips to help you navigate the aisles. Happy shopping!
Don't shop on an empty stomach. This applies to you and the kids. If you are hungry, you are more likely to rush things and make poor choices. Treat foods are more appealing when you are running on empty and everyone is cranky.
Give yourself some time to read the labels. You don't have to spend hours in the supermarket reading the nutrition panel on every product that you buy, but it's worth trying to gradually increase your knowledge. This week check out the frozen pizzas to see which one is lowest in fat. Next week, have a look at the nutrition and ingredients labels for the ice creams. The nutrition content isn't the only reason to buy a product, price and taste may be just as important, but at least if you know the facts you can weigh up the pros and cons for each food.
Watch out for salt, fat and sugar. When you're reading food labels, the main nutrients to watch out for are fat, salt and sugar. Too many of these nutrients can contribute to long-term family health problems. You don't have to cut out your favourite foods, but when comparing products try to choose those that are lower in salt, fat and sugar.
Keep a healthy balance in mind. Try to keep the food groups in mind as you travel through the supermarket. Check your trolley before you finish. Do you have plenty of starchy foods and whole grains for meals and snacks? How much fruit and vegetables have you picked up? Do you have enough dairy foods to keep the whole family going all week? Are treat foods a big feature of your shop? If they are, consider putting some back and opt for a healthier balance of foods.
Resist pester power. The fact that kids are almost always looking for sweets and other treats when they see them at the supermarket is not abnormal. Think about what you were like when you were little. Try to talk to them in advance about what they will be allowed to buy so that they know what to expect. This way, you may be able to take some of the stress out of the situation.
Give them some choices. Giving the kids some choice while you are shopping is an important part of their learning. Try to limit the number of choices you give 'Do you want jam or honey for your toast? Do you want crisps or chocolate for a treat on Friday night?' These closed questions are easier for a child to cope with, but will give the feeling of being important and involved. It's an especially good way of teaching them that their limit really is one treat.
Load up on fruit and vegetables. It doesn't matter whether you choose fresh, frozen, tinned or dried fruit, they all count towards your five or more a day target. Pure fruit juice counts too. Get the kids involved by asking them to help you choose as many different coloured fruits and vegetables as possible. This helps them learn the importance of variety in their diet. The more delicious juicy fruit and vegetables you eat, the better.
Be a conscious consumer. Make sure your local supermarket can answer all your questions on food and nutrition. If they don't stock a product you'd like to buy, why not ask? If enough people ask they'll be more likely to stock the healthier foods you prefer to buy.