Shopping Smart

Shopping for food is a common experience for most people in their daily life. Most of the elderly not only prepare their own food, but also meals for their family members. If the elderly know how to exercise the skills of shopping smart, they can help to provide a balanced diet which can contribute to the good health of not only themselves but also their families.

In Hong Kong, supermarkets and wet markets are places where most people shop for food. Some superstores, for instance, display a vast variety of food which carry claims such as "health food", "low salt", or "low fat" etc. However, these products may not necessarily be the best choice for every one. Some key points are listed below which can help us to master the skills of shopping smartly:

Before Shopping

1. Plan beforehand the kinds and quantities of food required. Avoid buying food that is on sale but unlikely to fit into the diet.

2. Follow recommendations of Healthy Eating Food Pyramid for the portions to be consumed daily for each person:

Food groups Daily food servings
a. Grains: 3 to 5 bowls (1 bowl ~ 2 large slices of bread)
b. Vegetables: at least 3 servings
c. Fruits: at least 2 servings
d. Milk and alternatives: 1 to 2 cups
e. Meat, fish, eggs and alternatives: 5 to 6 taels (1 tael ~ 40 grams of meat)

During Shopping

  1. Look for "expiry dates" or "best before dates" on the food labels. Avoid buying food that has already expired or cannot be consumed before the expiry date. The package of the food should also be in good condition.
  2. Consider the overall nutritional value of food items. Food that carry claims such as "health food", "low salt", and "low fat" etc may not necessarily be the best choice. Some products which are labeled "low salt" may have a lot of oil added during food processing while some products which are labeled "low fat" may have a lot of sugar added during food production.
  3. Food Selections
    1. Grains
      Avoid deep-fried products and choose items like rice noodle, macaroni, and spaghetti instead. Avoid bread with filling or biscuits laden with fat such as cocktail bun, cookies, cream wafer, etc. which are higher in fat or sugar. Wheat bread, dinner roll, saltine crackers, and tea biscuits, etc make better selections.

    2. Vegetables
      Choose more dark green leafy vegetables and side items such as mushroom, carrot, green peas, celery, etc. as well as vegetables for soup to help achieve the portions recommended by the Healthy Eating Food Pyramid.

    3. Fruits
      Buy fresh fruit in moderate portions. Avoid buying a large quantity of fruit which may cost less but are perishable.

    4. Milk and alternatives
      Dairy products are rich in calcium and can help build stronger bones. Low fat or skimmed dairy products make better selection. Other food items that are high in calcium include calcium-fortified tofu and soymilk as well as dark green leafy vegetables.

    5. Meat, fish, eggs and alternatives
      Select low fat meat such as lean cut pork, loin, poultry without skin, fish, etc. to cut down on the fat and cholesterol content of dishes and soup. There is no need to avoid buying frozen meat as it is not significantly different from fresh meat in terms of nutritional value. Dry beans and bean products such as soy beans and tofu are also good selections of protein-rich food. Deep-fried tofu and tofu sticks should not be selected too often as they contain fat.

    6. Fat/ oil, salt and sugar
      Vegetable oil such as canola oil, peanut oil, corn oil, etc. make good selections of cooking oil. Use cooking oil sparingly or moderately and avoid storing large amount of oil.
      Avoid canned and processed food as they are high in fat and sodium. Excessive consumption of food high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure.

Other key points

  • There is no need to go for expensive food items as nutritional value is a more important consideration.

  • Do not follow blindly other people's eating habits, select only those kinds of food that meet your own needs.

  • The quality of food is important. The storage, preparation, and cooking processes need to meet the standards of food hygiene.

Related Audiovisual and Booklet Package(s):

Healthy Snacks VCD
Shopping Smart