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Shopping Cart Essentials

Stock Up on these Healthy Staples
  -- By Liza Barnes & Nicole Nichols, Health Educators
So, you’re going to start eating healthy. Congratulations are in order—and so is a trip to the grocery store. Stocking up on some new items is a must. If your pantry is full of healthy fare, you’ll stress less about meals, and you’ll be less likely to snack on nutritionally-empty junk.

But should you buy 12-grain or whole wheat bread? Low-fat milk or soy milk? Butter or margarine? Grocery shopping isn’t rocket science, but it can be confusing, even for those with the best of intentions. So to help, here's SparkPeople's list of shopping cart essentials—an aisle-by-aisle guide to supplies you’ll need to stock your kitchen for your healthy eating resolution. <pagebreak>

Produce: Start Here
Fresh fruits and veggies are the foundation of a healthy diet. Here are some of the best picks to help you reach your goals: What to Avoid in the Produce Section: Fortunately, nothing in this section is bad for you, and each item offers some health benefit. You can’t go wrong if you aim for variety, filling your cart with a bounty of colorful fruits and vegetables during each grocery trip.

Bread & Cereal Aisles
Bread, cereals and other grain products can often be the most confusing to buy, and healthy sounding phrases on their packages (Health Nut, 12-Grain, and more) don't make it any easier. For the best bet, ignore the claims on the front of the box and go straight to the nutrition label. What to Avoid in the Bread & Cereal Aisles: <pagebreak>
The Dairy Case
Most grocery stores place dairy in the very back so that you'll have to walk through the whole store (and past its enticing food items) to get to it. But even though it's in the back, dairy holds an important place in most people's diets. So what are the top picks? What to Avoid in the Dairy Case: <pagebreak>
Meat & Other Proteins
Meat is often more expensive than plant-based proteins, but you can buy meat on sale and freeze what you can't use within a few days. Keep in mind that a healthy diet will include a variety of protein sources, so don't be afraid of going meatless and opting for beans or the occasional tofu—both of which make healthy additions to any meal. What to Avoid in the Protein Department: Extras: What to avoid: Be on the lookout for foods that contain the ingredients below. When they do, put them back on the shelf. With a few good recipes and some creativity, the flavors of the toaster pastries and TV dinners of your past will fade faster than the green flesh of a freshly cut avocado. You'll see! Now get shopping!