Grocery stores are in the business of selling products; they don’t exist to ensure your good health. They are set up in a way that encourages you to buy as many products as possible, so their business can thrive. You may not thrive as well as the grocery store on all the products they sell.
Shopping with Blinders On
To ensure that your food shopping is supporting your health goals you may want to wear blinders the next time you visit your local superfood store. Although you would look silly if you literally did that, there are some simple tactics you can use to avoid temptation and reduce impulse buying. The key is to focus on your primary purpose for buying food – nutrition; good health through meals and snacks that will satisfy both taste and hunger without contributing to high blood sugar or weight problems.
Your metaphorical blinders are being prepared and staying focused. Use the methods below to keep yourself on track with your health and weight goals.
- Psyche Yourself Up – Remind yourself of your health and weight goals and the kind of lifestyle changes you want to make. Don’t go shopping without a clear intention that is focused on your health, otherwise you can easily be tempted by the store’s priority which is to sell as much food as possible. Pause before you shop and tell yourself that you won’t be the victim of food marketing and advertising. You can even write a goal or affirmation at the top of your grocery list.
- Don’t Shop at Mealtimes – Shopping when you are hungry is setting yourself up for impulse buying. Plan your shopping trips for after meals or at least after you’ve had a healthy snack.
- Make a weekly plan – As with the above steps, planning is a key to success. Make a weekly meal plan with a menu for each day and create your list based on that. If you’re more of a spontaneous cook, at least plan out the types of food you want to cook with for the week so you can go to the store with a specific list.
- Specify your list – The more focused your grocery list is the easier it will be to stick to your goals. If your list looks something like this: breakfast food, lunch food, dinner food, snacks, there is too much room for interpretation and impulse buying. This is why many diets offer a specific meal plan and grocery list, however it’s better if you make your own. When you make a specific list based on your preferences and health goals you are taking ownership of your health and your choices.
- Stay within your budget – A budget can do more than control your finances, it can also help you control calories and unhealthy choices. Decide ahead of time on a specific monthly and weekly food budget that will allow you to buy nutritious food but limit your ability to purchase unnecessary food. Every time you stop yourself from making an impulse buy or an unhealthy choice, you can put the money you would have spent into a piggy bank and save up for something special.
- Don’t linger in the aisles – You’ve probably heard of sticking to the outer edges of the store, but that doesn’t always work. You probably will have to go down one or two aisles to find some items, so when you do, stay focused. Don’t casually browse up and down each aisle looking for the items on your list. Use the signs above the aisles to target where you need to go and act like an arrow headed for the bulls eye. Only focus on what you need.
- Speed shop – Speed shopping is just running in and out to get a few things, literally run, or fast walk, with a focused intention of purchasing no more than 10 specific things. Do this 3 or 4 times a week. You should have a specific list, and a time limit. The benefit of this is that you spend less time in the store, and your focus is on being quick and limiting your choices.
- Exer-shop – Plan to get some exercise while you shop by moving quickly. This works best if you shop when the store is not too busy. Speed walk from one side of the store to the other to pick up the items you need, then speed walk through the aisles you need to go down moving first between the farthest ones apart. If you know the layout of the store you can plan your grocery list in a pattern that puts the greatest distance between items. Not only does this help increase daily movement, it also keeps your shopping experience focused on your health goals.
Know any other tricks that help you control your diet or health? Share them with our readers by leaving a comment.