Healthy Grocery Shopping Can Be Accomplished with These Tips

PARIS, TN – Americans have been forced to adjust their lifestyles due to COVID-19 and those adjustments include our eating habits. Restaurant closures or seating limits have forced families to eat more meals at home in 2020. According to Kim Dempsey, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES, registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist at Henry County Medical Center, healthy eating at home starts at the grocery store.

Part of Dempsey’s job at HCMC is to counsel patients on health eating, including choosing the right foods for their specific medical conditions. When it comes to shopping, she said consumers are more aware of shopping the perimeter of the grocery, but she says that is not a hard and fast rule.

“We can always find unhealthy choices on the perimeter and also some healthy choices on the inside aisles,” she said during a recent trip to Lakeway IGA in Paris. “A great goal is to fill about 75 percent of our cart from the healthiest choices from the outside aisles and 25 percent from the inside aisles.”

Grocery stores tend to put their produce sections right up front, and Dempsey recommends starting there because fresh fruits and vegetables offer many benefits.

“People who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to have less chronic diseases and have an easier time managing their weight,” Dempsey explained. “There are lots of vitamins and minerals that we get specifically from fruits and vegetables.”

When it comes to the meat section, Dempsey emphasizes choosing lean cuts of meat, whether it’s red meat, chicken or fish.  On the bread aisle, Dempsey recommends choosing 100 percent whole grain (or whole wheat) breads.

One stop on the perimeter that consumers need to make, according to Dempsey, is the dairy section. But not just for fresh milk.

“A recent article from the Advisory Committee for Dietary Guidelines recognized eggs as an important first food for babies and toddlers,” she said. “They also recommended increased egg consumption for pregnant and lactating women because eggs are a great source of the nutrient, choline. Choline is important for brain development as well as brain health.”

She added that a recent Harvard University publication determined after a review of studies form the last 30 years that dietary cholesterol from eggs is not a dietary concern for adults. “Increased egg consumption does not increase risk of cardiovascular disease.”

As for the rest of the grocery, Dempsey recommends consumers choose beans for an additional protein. “Beans provide budget-friendly proteins.  If you choose canned beans they should opt for beans with no salt added.”

Dempsey offers individual nutritional counseling by provider referral, so those individuals interested must talk with their primary care or specialty provider.

To learn more, call Dempsey at 731-644-8575 or go to our website at  You can also watch videos on this subject and others on our YouTube channel:

There are also some great healthy recipe videos on the channel as well.  You can also access them at

Located in Paris, TN, Henry County Medical Center is a progressive, integrated healthcare organization committed to serving the healthcare needs of Henry County and the adjoining region.  Including a 142-bed hospital and other facilities, the medical center provides a variety of outpatient services, as well as inpatient care. Additionally, HCMC owns and operates 7 provider clinics in various specialties.  Henry County Medical Center is a county-owned and operated nonprofit institution. For more information: