Healthy Grocery Shopping Tips

Today I wanted to focus on SHOPPING in particular, food shopping! One of my favorite things to do ☺. It can sometimes be a little overwhelming at the store with so many different options. We walk in and are bombarded with a plethora of choices which may either make us want to pull our hair out or simply just grab the first things we see without much thought to the process. The last thing we want to do is take the time to read the food labels to determine the most nutritious items because who has time for that, right? Well, with just a few simple tweaks to your weekly (or bi-weekly) shopping trip, your shopping trip can be enjoyable AND healthy.


I always have a list of things I need to get at the grocery store with me when I shop. Without one, I KNOW I’ll forget things that I need and will end up having to run back to the store. An easy way to keep track of things you need, is to create a list on your phone and add to it when you run out of something. That way you’re not scrambling around last minute trying to remember what you need or don’t need. You can even take it a step further and plan ahead your meals, so it’ll give you a better idea of exactly what you’ll need.

BONUS TIP: To save money, CLIP COUPONS! It takes just a few minutes to scan through your weekly Sunday ads and clip coupons of items you know you use. Some grocery stores will double the savings of your manufacture coupons too! Overtime, these few extra minutes can lead to A LOT of money saved. Don’t forget to check your grocery store’s weekly ad too. Typically the new weekly sales begin on Fridays.


Fresh wholesome foods are always located on the perimeter of the store. Here is where you are able to find fresh fruits, veggies, dairy, meat, and fish. The center isles are typically where the more processed foods that may contain additives and artificial ingredients are located. However, all food is energy (calories=energy) and moderation is key to having a healthy, balanced diet; so although some foods may be more processed than others, it shouldn’t be viewed as off-limits or ‘bad.’ This leads me to my next tip.


Here is where you will be able to determine an item’s serving size, caloric total, nutrient breakdown (i.e. fats, proteins, carbs) and the vitamins & minerals (i.e. vitamin A, C, calcium) of what you’re buying. A good ‘rule of thumb’ is to limit high sodium, cholesterol, sugar, saturated and trans-fat foods while looking for more fiber, vitamin (i.e. A, E,C), mineral (potassium, calcium, iron) rich foods. I will save ‘how to read a nutrition label’ for another post!

Some ideas in case you feel lost in regard to great protein, carb, and fats include but are not limited to:
-PROTEIN include: lean meats, skinned poultry, legumes, nuts, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs (and egg whites), seafood, tofu
-CARBOHYDRATES include: vegetables, fruits, oatmeal (i.e. rolled, steel cut, old fashioned, oat bran), potatoes (i.e red, white, sweet), 100% whole grain bread, whole grain cereals, beans, quinoa, rice
-FATS: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, peanut and almond butters, nuts and seeds, cheese


The shorter the list of ingredients the better. Limit the amount of food items you eat that contain ingredients in which you cannot pronounce. If we cannot recognize the ingredient, our bodies will not either.

Healthy eating does NOT have to be boring. Don’t be afraid to try different foods; variety is the spice of life!

Travel Tips on How to Stay Healthy on Vacation

With the summer months almost here and temperatures steadily rising, this can only mean one thing: Vacation time! So in order to ensure that you stay healthy while on-the-go and avoid the temptation to eat for convenience (which not only will benefit your health but your wallet as well) you are going to want to check out these tips I have compiled for you to use during your next trip!


                Tip #1            

Pack your own snacks so that when hunger strikes, you’re not tempted to stop at a convenience store or fast-food joint. By bringing a balanced, nutrient dense snack or meal comprised of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats, you’ll stay full and satisfied while also saving yourself money! Some great snack ideas include:

  • Nuts like almonds or pistachios
  • Nutrition bars (i.e Questbars, larabars) that are low in sugar but provide an adequate amount of protein (you don’t want to purchase protein bars that contain more grams of sugar than protein, the less ingredients the better!)
  • Fruits like oranges, bananas, or apples that are easy to travel with or dried fruit where the only ingredient is the fruit itself!
  • Pre-cut veggies like carrots, cucumbers, or celery
  • Almonds/peanut butters or hummus to pair with your fruit or veggies!

Tip #2:

As I recently visited several airports while traveling, I was able to take a look at several food and beverage options, and although you’ll still see your typical McDonalds, Wendy’s, pizza joints, and ice cream stands, there ARE places where you can make healthy choices! Here are some of my go-to eats for when I’m on the go at the airport!

  • Sandwiches- made with whole wheat, rye, or sourdough breads, lean deli meats, 1 slice of cheese, and veggies! Starbucks has several great options of pre-made sandwiches that are a good choice when on the go. There also will typically be several other sandwich places that will have similar options, where you may be able to customize your order as well!
  • Oatmeal- several places like Starbucks, McDonalds, or Au Bu Pain, will have oatmeal on their menu, which is also a great choice especially if you find yourself at the airport early in the morning before you’ve had breakfast! Stick to keeping it simple with small amounts of the add-ons like brown sugar, cream, etc. Keep to the rule of thumb of everything in moderation!
  • Yogurt- greek yogurt is a great choice (i.e. Chobani, Fage), as it has a higher protein content than regular yogurts, which will keep you full longer. These will typically be found in the magazine stores as the airport. Greek yogurt would pair nicely with fruit and some nuts to make an excellent healthy option!
  • Salads- greens are always a great option but opt for salads that have an adequate amount of protein (i.e. tofu, beans or chicken), veggies, and the dressing on the side! Asking for the dressing on the side will allow you to have more control of the portion, so you don’t find yourself with more dressing than salad 🙂 Sometimes you’ll find salads that have more added toppings like croutons, tortilla strips, or a lot of cheese than actual veggies and protein so try to keep those toppings to a minimum when looking for salad options while using the dressing sparingly.

Tip #3

Remember to stay HYDRATED! Traveling can leave you dehydrated and feeling sluggish, especially if you’re flying, so it can be easy to steer in the direction of wanting high sugar, caffeine-laden drinks. By drinking plenty of water during your travels, you will also be able to minimize feelings of jet lag after flying. Even if you’re traveling by car, train, bus etc. staying hydrated is still incredibly important. Do you know why? If not, then you MUST check out my previous post on ‘High Quality H20 and Why It’s so Important’!

Happy Traveling! 🙂


High Quality H20 and Why It’s so Important!

So we hear time and time again on the importance of water and why we need to drink it daily. We also typically hear that we need to consume 64ounces (8 cups) of water each day. This notion of 8 daily cups of 8oz of water has become popular over the years as a general rule of thumb, even though there’s no scientific evidence to back it up. While this is a good notion to live by, your water needs depend on a variety of different factors such as your physical activity level, body weight, and the temperature and humidity of where you live to name just a few.

So how much do you actually need?

According to the Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that the average, healthy female adult should consume roughly 9 cups (2.2liters) of total FLUID each day, whereas a healthy male adult should consume about 3 cups (3 liters)*. Active individuals need even more, particularly if you’re engaging in intense exercise and in hot temperatures. So the 8 cups of 8ounces each day (roughly 1.9 liters) isn’t too far off from the Institute of Medicine’s guidelines. Another important thing to keep in mind too is that the guidelines are a recommendation for your total FLUID intake, not simply just water, thus all fluid counts from water in beverages and in food (keeping in mind that some sources are better than others of course). For example, milk and juice are mostly comprised of water and, yes, even the beloved coffee has water, but sugar-laden beverages such as sweetened teas and coffees, juices, and sodas should not be the majority of your daily fluid intake and should be consumed sparingly. Some of the foods you eat on a daily basis can even contribute to your daily fluid intake! Fruits like oranges and watermelon and veggies like tomatoes, lettuce, celery and spinach are composed of mostly water too.

What does H20 do for your body?

 Water helps with:

  • Regulating your body temperature
  • Lubricating and cushions your joints and muscles
  • Protecting your spinal cord and other tissues
  • Eliminating wastes and toxins from your body

Why is it important?

Think of the plants in your garden. If you don’t give them enough water; they shrivel up, but once you give them water, they are able to perk right back up! That’s how it is for our bodies too. Water is in every cell, tissue, and organ within our bodies. Not enough water especially for athletes can lead to feeling fatigued, decreased performance, cardiovascular stress, heat illness, and dehydration. When your body is in a dehydrated state, you may experience more muscle cramping and loss of coordination. Twenty-four hours prior to vigorous exercise is particularly important for water consumption for athletes.


Easy tips to increasing your fluid intake:

Drinking plain water can be boring at times. I can definitely attest to that! Some easy ways to spice it up a bit and be more flavorful include:

  • Adding lemon or lime wedges or even mint to your water
  • Adding cucumber or oranges to a pitcher of water and letting it sit for a few hours in your fridge to enhance the taste!
  • Making ice cubes with frozen fruit and adding them to your water
  • Making iced tea with herbal caffeine free tea bags

And finally,

  • Keep a water bottle with you at all times! Places like Target, Kohl’s, or Walmart sell reusable waterbottles, such as the Contigo brand, that will not only help you keep up with your daily water intake but will also save you some money AND the environment!

*Some individuals have health problems that restrict their water intake. If you’re concerned about your fluid intake or have health issues, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that’s right for you!


American Council of Excerise (ACE). (2008) Fit Facts. Retrieved from:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2012). Water: Meeting your Daily Water Needs. Retrieved from:

Institute of Medicine (n.d.). Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride and sulfate.


From Hectic to Healthy: How to jump start your day in a healthy way!

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be easy to put our own health on the backburner when our days are filled with long hours at work, cramming for exams, lengthy commutes, driving your kids to and from extracurricular activities; the list can go on and on. Whatever the case may be, sometimes the last thing we want to do is fit in time for healthy eating right? Well, what if I told you that eating healthy CAN fit into your hectic day-to-day life by making just a few EASY and MANAGEABLE tweaks to jumpstart your day.


          I think the biggest issue is the lack of time in the morning.   We don’t want to lose any more precious minutes of sleep than we have to, so it can be easy to opt for convenience breakfast food items in the morning. One way to change this habit is to take the time the night before to have your breakfast already made for you in the morning to just grab and go! A few easy and delicious suggestions include:

  • Overnight oats: this may be one of my favorites. The flavor combinations are endless and it’s so simple and easy to make. Store in your fridge overnight and simply reheat in the morning! A simple google search can lead you to many overnight oat recipes!
  • Smoothies: have the ingredients lain out and readily available for you, so that in the AM all you have to do is dump it in your blender and go. You can even take a few extra minutes and put together a few frozen bags of smoothie ingredients to have in your freezer for mornings when you want a smoothie for breakfast.   Prepping your own pre-made smoothie bags can also save you money! Great suggestions for ingredients in your smoothies include a combination of protein (i.e. greek yogurt, milk) carbohydrates (i.e. fruit like bananas or berries), and healthy fats (i.e peanut or almond butters).
  • Hardboiled eggs: have some hardboiled eggs made and stored in your fridge to grab in the morning paired with a side of toast and fruit!
  • DIY Breakfast Sandwich: put together a sandwich the night before using a whole wheat English muffin or toast, an egg, and slice of cheese and there you have yourself a hearty, satisfying breakfast!

And there you have it! A few simple, quick breakfast ideas to kick start your day in a healthy way!

The Writer Behind the Blog!


Hi everyone,welcome to Physical Therapy First’s blog! My name is Alyssa, and I am the writer beyond this blog, here to share with you how maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be SIMPLE and MAINTAINABLE even when life seems just way too hectic! My passion for health and nutrition stems back to my college years of being a Division 1 collegiate athlete, which then brought me to receiving my Masters in Health Science and a certification in Fitness Nutrition from the International Strength Training Association (ISTA). As an employee of Physical Therapy First, my goal is for you to be able to take away some new found nutrition knowledge to incorporate into your everyday life!

*DISCLAIMER: As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any exercise program, or if you’re concerned about experimenting with a new meal plan. Although I hold a certification in fitness nutrition, I am NOT a professional nutritionist and write from my own experiences and research.