Looking for a rainbow of colours in your shopping trolley can help you stay healthy and prevent you becoming obese, according to Ann Marie Lydon, Community Dietician with the Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE West. Obesity is fast becoming a serious health concern in Ireland, with one in eight Irish people being obese and every second person being overweight. As a nation we are becoming progressively heavier as can be seen from a 30 percent increase in reported obesity levels over the past four years. The good news is that every one of use can make daily choices which can prevent us putting on too much weight. Ann Marie believes that how you shop for your food can have a major impact on your weight, and says that shopping is one of the first steps to healthy eating. If you put some thought into your weekly shop, then you are more likely to eat healthily for the week, she adds. There are some golden rules that will help you with your weekly shop. The first thing to avoid is shopping when hungry. If you shop when you are hungry you tend to buy more ‘quick fix’ high sugar and high calorie foods, so it is always a good idea to do your weekly shop after you have eaten. Variety is one of the key components of a healthy diet and it is important to plan your meals over the week. You can decide to eat a variety of fish/ chicken/red meats over the week with different vegetables and a combination of potatoes, pasta and rice. Make a shopping list before you go to the shop and stick to this list. Buy a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. Look for the rainbow of colours from your fruit and vegetables in your shopping trolley. Fresh foods are obviously the best for you, but in today’s busy schedules it may not always be possible to prepare a freshly cooked meal every day. However, you should try and buy more fresh foods than processed foods in your weekly shop. Frozen vegetables are a useful and nutritious alternative to fresh vegetables and are quick to prepare. Another golden rule is to buy more wholegrain and high fibre foods. Choose a variety of wholegrain breads, rolls, pitta breads and wraps. Try and make a point of eating more brown bread than white bread, says Ann Marie, and, if possible, try and avoid buying high sugar sweets and biscuits in your weekly shop – If it’s not in the cupboard, you can’t eat it! The Community Nutrition & Dietetic Service of HSE West are offering a free health service called ‘Supermarket Tours’. This involves a qualified nutritionist accompanying you through the aisles of the supermarket, giving you the opportunity to get free advice about your food shopping. If you would like a copy of ‘ A Guide to Supermarket Shopping’ or would like to attend a Supermarket Tour with a Community Dietician, please contact the Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service on (091) 548335.