Weight loss success starts at the grocery store. After all, most of us don’t grow our own food-we buy it. So shopping is a necessity in our lives. But the grocery store can be a dangerous place if you are trying to lose weight-it is filled with all sorts of temptations. If we take precautions however the grocery store can be our best friend and ally during our weight loss journey. Here are 5 simple tips that turn the grocery store from foe to your new BFF!
1. Eat before you shop.
You’ve heard it a before, I know…don’t go to the store hungry. The reason you’ve heard it a gazillion times because it is true! When we are hungry we tend to put more in our cart, because it all looks good. And what are we putting in the cart? Is it more apples and salad? Nope, we’re apt to grab a candy bar or bag of chips while standing in the checkout line on top of all the other “food” that we grabbed on every aisle. Eating a meal or healthy snack BEFORE we shop helps control cravings so we aren’t tempted by the goodies and we make healthier, conscious choices and buy foods that support our health and weight loss goals.
2. The List: Make it, Bring it, Use it
Lots of people tell you to make a list. It makes sense. The shopping list can help you buy what you need-either for tonight’s stew or to restock the pantry. The list can help save your money and calories. But what good is the list if it is on your kitchen counter? I cannot tell you how many times I have left the list behind and then stood at the grocery store with my eyes closed trying to “see” what was on the list! So sure, make a list-but bring it along and stick to it! You don’t have to be a dictator about the list-if the store is having an awesome sale on something you use regularly (and your budget will allow it) I’m all for stocking up. Where sticking to a list really helps is to reduce the impulse buying of things that sound/look/smell good at the time but we just don’t need right now, or are not things we want to be eating because we are losing weight. I’m not saying you can never buy a treat, just that if you really want chocolate or chips then it has to be on the list. Don’t buy them just because they are on sale. Make it a fully conscious choice to buy the food you have in the house (because we all know if it makes it to the house you are going to eat it…at least if it is chocolate!) The mere act of writing it down is often enough to convince yourself you don’t really want it! Shopping from a list also stops the “I’ll just pop in for a few things on the way home” drive by shopping when a lot of high-fat/sugar/salt items make it into the cart completely on their own, of course.
3. Pay with Cash
A study by the Journal of Consumer Research indicates that if you buy your groceries with cash your cart will tend to hold less junk food! Want junk food? Must have the cash to buy it now. Don’t put the calories on your credit card and your hips at the same time! If you are really disciplined with your list (and good at math) you can take this one step further and calculate how much money you will need for your groceries and bring only that amount of cash. Amazing how much easier it is to put down the cookies when you know you won’t be able to feed your family dinner if you buy them!
4. Time it
Make your shopping trip an appointment that you have to complete within a set time. This will keep you moving, keeps down the aimless wandering and you won’t take as much time getting sucked into aisles that contain only things that aren’t on your list…and you won’t waiver over whether or not to buy something. Gotta Go!
5. Shop the perimeter
The outer parts of the store generally have the healthiest stuff. Shop there first and only go to the center aisles when you know you need something. When you do, find out what aisle that item is on and only go down that aisle and then head back to the perimeter. The foods in the middle are usually the packaged and processed foods and they are strategically placed on shelves to appeal to us. There is a HUGE science to food placement. You thought the stores were there for us? Well, they are…but their goal is to make money and they make more money if we buy more stuff! They really don’t care if we buy what is healthy for us or not.