Navigating the Grocery for Healthy Options




The Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” also serves as a guideline to achieving a healthy grocery shopping experience, according to Crystal N. Hurley, MS, RDL, LDN, the clinical dietitian at Bayhealth’s Surgical Weight Loss program at Bayhealth Milford Memorial.

Hurley advises patients to pick a stress-free time to go to the grocery store. “I tell people not to go shopping after work. They’re stressed and hungry and the stores are crowded, so they will have a tendency to grab and go,” she said. She reminds people to make a list, and stick with the list. “Plan your meals for the week,” Hurley said.

The “gold standard,” according to Hurley, is to stick to the perimeter of the store, the produce section, especially. But with every rule, there are exceptions. Nutrient-dense foods, such as beans, sugar-free salsa, and nuts, are usually found toward the middle of the store.

The summer, she said, is a great time to find fresh, local fruits; vegetables; and eggs at a farmers’ market. “If people can’t afford fresh vegetables, the freezer section is the next best choice,” Hurley said. “The vegetables are freshly picked, and then flash frozen.”

Hurley also suggests buying foods without labels: fresh produce, eggs and meat.
“The fewer ingredients, the better,” she said.

Hurley tries to steer patients clear of foods with the “fortified” on the label, and she urges them to avoid beverages with calories, including juice, milk and sodas. “Anything more than 10 calories and you’re getting too much sugar,” she said.

This nutrition expert also encourages patients to buy healthy food, such as Greek yogurt, quinoa and nuts in bulk to save money. Wholesale shopping is one way of keeping meal-planning staples in the pantry.

Bayhealth offers inpatient and outpatient dietitians. If you are interested in talking to an outpatient dietitian, consult your primary care physician. If you have any questions about services offered by an outpatient dietitian, call 302-744-6828 or go to for more information.

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