We鈥檝e all been there. Six o鈥檆lock hits and you鈥檙e starving, so you hit the grocery store. As you鈥檙e cruising through the aisles, those bag of Doritos or a container of cupcakes calls your name. When checkout rolls around, you鈥檝e somehow managed to buy a Super Bowl-worthy spread, instead of a week鈥檚 worth of nutritious eats. This cycle is all too common (trust us; we know!), so to kick the habit, we consulted Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. Vice President of Nutrition, Communication & Education Colette Heimowitz. She gave us some healthy tips to implement the next time we hit the supermarket.

Grocery Store

First things first: Heimowitz recommends never shopping hungry. The expert suggests noshing on a low-carb snack before hitting the store to prevent any 鈥渁isle wandering鈥 along the way. 鈥淢ake sure you鈥檙e hydrated and have a low-carb snack before you go, so you鈥檙e not tempted to grab a high-sugar snack that will just cause your blood sugar to spike and crash and slow you down,鈥 she instructs.

Then, once you鈥檙e there, the expert鈥檚 no-fail plan of attack is to shop along the store鈥檚 perimeter. 鈥淭his is where the balance of high-fiber carbohydrates, optimal protein, and healthy fats are located: fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, and fish,鈥 she says. Layout dependent, the order of these sections is important too. 鈥淚 start in the produce section and fill my cart with a rainbow of colorful vegetables. From there, I hit the deli counter for roasted meats and cheeses, then the meat and seafood counter, and finally the dairy section,鈥 Heimowitz says.

With colorful veggies in the cart, Heimowitz goes on to say why you should steer clear of the middle of the store. 鈥淭he center aisles usually feature the food you are trying to avoid 鈥 the items that are high in carbs and packed with 鈥榟idden sugars鈥 (carbs that digest in your body and affect you the way sugar would),鈥 she says. Of course, there are always a few exceptions. 鈥淚 usually hit the center aisles only for canned tuna and salmon, canned vegetables, broth and bouillon, spices, oils, and condiments. I also hit up the tortillas section and get my low-carb wraps, which are great for stuffing with your favorite sandwich fillings, scrambled eggs, and more,鈥 she adds.

Grocery Hack 2

With a renewed sense of how to approach our local TJ鈥檚 or Whole Foods, we deferred to Heimowitz on her favorite healthy foods to pick up. Her advice? 鈥淭ry to purchase a nice balance of high-fiber carbohydrates, optimal protein, and healthy fats such as colorful vegetables, high-fiber/low-glycemic impact fruits (i.e., berries), fish, poultry, meats, eggs, dairy products, and oils. In my new book, Atkins: Eat Right, Not Less, I include a whole section on how to create a low-carb kitchen, including tips for your grocery shopping list,鈥 she says.

Of course, all good foods come at a price (literally), so we asked for Heimowitz鈥檚 recommendations of affordable foods to scoop up. The list includes surprising items like canned tuna, lentils, bluefish, bean sprouts, cabbage, cottage cheese, and greek yogurt. Pair those with anything you can freeze or buy in bulk, and you鈥檒l walk away with one affordable haul.

Whether you鈥檙e planning on revamping your shopping strategy or grocery purchases altogether, consider us officially inspired to hit the store in a healthy state of mind.

What are your favorite foods to pick up at the grocery store? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)