Are You Really Making the Best Choice at the Grocery Store?

This morning I had the pleasure of appearing bright and early on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta to discuss what are better choices at the grocery store. I was also there to promote tonight’s Diet 411 event: a free call-in and live chat from 6 to 9 pm tonight for anyone in Georgia to speak to a registered dietitian. For more information, go to

Food manufacturers are savvy marketers. They know how to put their products in the best light and use buzz words to make their products appear better than they really are. Often when I talk to people or take them on a tour of a grocery store, they are surprised to find that their favorite foods may not be the best choices. While I never like to label a food bad, below I’ve listed the “Not So Good,” “Better” and “Best” choices among the different categories. Of course there are many other products that could fall into the categories below, but these are just a few that I’ve found.

Yogurt is a great snack or part of a meal because it is provides a healthy dose of calcium, protein and probiotics (the good bacteria for your gut). Many on the grocery store shelves, however, are laden with added sugar. While there is naturally occurring sugar in yogurt, the flavored ones often have a good deal of sugar added to them. Fortunately many manufacturers have foregone artificial food colorings in yogurt, though many are still unnecessarily colored.

Not So Good

Yoplait: With 26 grams of sugar in 6 oz, it is overflowing in sugar, even when you account for what is naturally occurring. Despite a long ingredient list, there is only 1 live active bacteria culture.

Kroger Lite: Looks may be deceiving with this one with only 9 grams of sugar in a 6 oz container, but it contains 2 artificial sweeteners. There are 2 live active bacteria cultures in this one, but there are better choices.


Fage Cherry Pomegranate: While this Greek yogurt does contain 16 g sugar in the 5.3 oz, you actually have control of the sweetness as the fruit is separate from the yogurt and you can mix for your own preference. Use less for less sugar. It also contains 13 grams of protein and 5 live active bacteria cultures.

Stoneyfield: While the flavored Stoneyfield does have more sugar than I’d like with 16 grams of sugar in 6 oz, it does contain the most live active bacteria cultures than the rest at 6. Best bet is to go with their plain yogurt.

Chobani: Chobani has wonderful flavors and is a favorite of mine though still about 16 grams of sugar in 6 oz. It does provide 13 grams of protein and 5 live active bacteria cultures.


Choose plain yogurt of your favorite brand and add fresh fruit. A drop of honey can also go a long way if you need to sweeten it up a bit.


Cereal is one product where food manufacturers are using slick front of package marketing to make the consumer forget what really is healthy. Many are jumping on the whole grain bandwagon and touting whole grain as the first ingredient. But it is important to still read the label and look at the other ingredients as well as the nutrients. Many still have more sodium and added sugars than you want and the serving size listed is much smaller than what most people typically eat.

Not So Good
Apple Cinnamon Cheerios is one example where whole grains may be the 1st ingredient, different forms of sugar are also the 2nd and 3rd ingredients. In a ¾ cup serving there is 10 g sugar,but most people probably eat 2 – 3 times this amount.

Fiber One sounds healthy but in a 1 cup serving there is 210 mg Na and 14 g sugar. While it does provide 11 g fiber, the type of fiber used is really not the most beneficial for health.

Kashi Shredded Wheat is one of my favorites. A serving is 29 biscuits and provides no sodium, 6 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar and 6 grams of protein.

Kashi Heart to Heart is another one of our favorites at our house. A ¾ cup serving provides only 86 mg of sodium, 5 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar and 3 grams of protein.

Oatmeal that you make yourself is really the best option for cereal lovers. The toppings are endless and you can control your own amount of added sugar. Not in the mood for a hot breakfast, or think you don’t have time in the morning? Then try Overnight Oats – no cooking involved and no excuses! Using almost equal parts of oats, yogurt and milk, stir together at night and then let it set overnight in your fridge. In the morning, you have a lovely bowl of oats to top however you want. You can eat it cold or pop in the microwave to warm up if you prefer.

Peanut Butter is a great source of protein and heart healthy fats, not to mention extremely convenient and diverse in its uses. There should really only be one ingredient in peanut butter and that is peanuts! Most of the ones lining the grocery store shelves however, have a laundry list of ingredients.

Not So Good
Natural Jif sounds like it would be a good choice, but look at the ingredient list. It still contains sugar and palm oil, which is high in saturated fats, the kind you don’t want to add to your diet.

Peter Pan Reduced Fat is another that may sound healthy but really isn’t as it contains hydrogenated oils and corn syrup. Pure peanut butter does contain a good deal of fat, but it is the healthy kind, so just watch your portion size.

Kroger Natural and Whole Foods brand, 365, both are good choices with only 2 ingredients: peanuts and salt.

Trader Joe’s is my favorite and comes unsalted , either creamy or crunchy. Only one ingredient on that label as it should be and that is peanuts!


Granola Bars are a favorite grab and go snack for many people. Many are full of sugar, not always whole grain and either have little in the way of fiber or do not have the most beneficial types of fiber.

Not So Good
Fiber One again sounds healthy, but this isn’t the type of fiber you want. It also contains artificial colors and 10 grams of sugar in one bar.

Special K is another one that pretends to be healthy but it contains hydrogenated oils. While it only has 6 grams of sugar, it also contains sugar alcohols which are not completely digested and cause gastrointestinal issues for many people.

Quaker Chewy granola bars only have 7 grams of sugar, but also contain sugar alcohols. In addition, it has artificial colors and flavors added. They make a less sugar variety now but it really is no better either.

KIND Bars are great as they are full of nuts and dried fruit. They do contain some honey so there is some added sugar but are a great option for those on a gluten free diet.

Lara Bars are some of my favorites and has a very simple ingredient list, usually just dates, nuts and dried fruit. There is no added sugar and in terms of allergens are some of the most friendly as it is gluten free, dairy free and soy free.

Making your own granola bars is also a great option and really doesn’t take much time. Meal Makeover Moms, Grab-and-Go Granola Bars, are some of my favorites. The recipe only has ¼ cup honey and ¼ cup mini chocolate chips in the entire recipe, yet it has the perfect balance of sweetness.

Did you see any of your family’s favorites on the above list? Are you a dedicated label reader like I am?