Unless you have a wonderful person in your life that does all the food shopping for you, you most likely visit the grocery store at least once a week. And if you’re trying to eat healthy, the grocery store can be a challenging place for you. Sleeping well and exercising are important to maintaining your good health. So is eating well.

I like to eat nutritiously but I also like to treat myself to the occasional sugary and salty foods. I’m challenged just as you are to eat well in our society of excess processed and packaged foods. According to the American Council on Exercise, here’s how to shop for healthy foods at the grocery store. I’ve applied this information to my own life and it does work.

Shop the perimeter of the grocery storeThe middle aisles are usually the area where the snacks and treats are located. The area around the middle aisles are where the whole, real foods are located. Foods like lean protein, dairy and produce. Don’t completely avoid the middle aisles because you can find seasonings and low sodium canned vegetables. Just be mindful of where you are and what may jump out at you to entice you.

You don’t always need the bulk. Most shoppers are buying for two to four people. If you buy too much, you may end up throwing the food away and wasting your money. I’m pretty sure we’ve all wasted food at some point. I grew up hearing our eyes are bigger than our belly. It’s true. Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry and buy only what you need.

Be careful on the endcaps. When you get to the end of the aisle, be careful. Companies pay premium prices to catch your eye. It works doesn’t it? Those food displays at the end of the aisle really attract us and potentially distract us from our shopping list.

Always go to the grocery store with a list. I like a list. It keeps me focused on my priorities. Once I’ve found the things I need then I may look for a few things I want. Most of the time though, I’m ready to checkout.

If you can’t say it, don’t buy it. Read the ingredients. Especially in packaged foods. If the food product has a lot of ingredients from the top down that you can’t read and don’t understand, don’t buy it.

Be careful with organic foodsUsually organic foods are more expensive than the conventional foods. Your budget may only allow you to buy the conventional produce, for example, so buy it. It’s better to eat the conventional, non-organic produce then to not eat produce at all.

Natural means nothing. There is no widely accepted standard for the use of the word natural on a food label. I’ve often seen the word “natural” on packaged foods. To me, packaged foods are not all that natural.

Enjoy your grocery shopping trips and be mindful of your health. Here’s to you sleeping well, exercising and buying healthy foods.

Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the November 10, 2016 edition of the Seaford Star.