The grocery store is a place we hold with such positive connotation, but it is the largest enabler you will ever encounter and truthfully does not want you to succeed. In preparation for this article I did some research and was so surprised at my findings, but now applying it to my grocery store visits, it all makes sense and has definitely enabled me in the past to make choices I might not have if I had known better. With that said, and my new knowledge retained, I want to forward this on to you and help you succeed in the isles of the grocery store to ultimately live your healthiest life ever!
You enter the door and the marketing starts. We are so suppressed to the millions of messages we get every day, buy this, choose that, wear this, drink that, go here, purchase there, eat this, try that…. It’s amazing what we are exposed to on a daily basis, but the ability to make the proper decisions comes down to the knowledge that we have to be consumer smart! Here’s how!
5 ways to outsmart the Supermarket! (supermarket tips that will help your healthy lifestyle success):
1) Stay away from the isles and shop the parameter:
This is where the fresh, whole food items are kept. Fresh, whole foods are the ingredients that lead us to living our healthiest lifestyle. Keep these key tips in mind:
- Purchase items without an ingredient label or with very few ingredients on the back.
- Purchase items that are as close from farm to table as possible. This can be tough for us in the winter months, but now that spring and summer are here we can take advantage of the true fruits of our provinces labor.
- Plan a trip to the store every 3-4 days. Do not feel the need to buy pre-packaged foods just so that you can limit your grocery shopping to one day a week. The convenience of grabbing fresh food as you need them is much better for your healthy lifestyle and will expose you to fresher ingredients.
- Avoid canned, packaged or preserved foods or items that use a lot of additives to elongate shelf life.
*Outsmart the grocery store: Avoid the ‘end cap’ trap. End caps of isles are filled with ‘deal’ items that are there to lure you in and lead you through the isles. This way you can purchase items you didn’t need and leave more money at the store and in the companies profits. These items are the profit items for companies, but are typically not nutrient dense or conducive to your goals of living your healthiest lifestyle.
2) Eat before you shop and be prepared for the drive home:
If you are a typical snacker as you shop, after you shop and on the way home from shopping, prepare for your snack habit in advance and don’t leave it to baking section of your grocery store. Mindless snacking will add to your daily calories without even registering as a meal and signaling satiation to your appetite….you will still head home to have supper regardless of the snack habit.
Make sure to:
- Have a mini meal before shopping. This way you can purchase what you need instead of what the grocery store is marketing you to buy…the packaged goods that sound so good, the baked goods that smell so good and everything in between.
- Keep your shopping to the point and avoid shopping with influencers that will emotionally grab goodies and add to the cart.
- Have a snack option for the drive home ready for you. This can be a serving of nuts, veggies or a Quattro Shake. If you feel the need for hand to mouth, make sure its something that will help you succeed and not hinder your success.
*Outsmart the grocery store: Grocery stores are set up strategically to welcome you. They usually start your experience with a display of fresh flowers at the entrance, stimulate the eyes with the produce section that follows the flowers. Then to make you hungry and encourage you to shop emotionally, there lays the bakery. We first shop with our eyes and now are stimulated by smell to shop for everything in site. By eaten before you shop, you will not be enticed to purchase items out of hunger and emotion.
3) Leave the processing, seasoning and packaging for home:
No matter how much the store seam to be telling you that it is not convenient to cut your own veggies, separate your servings or make your own snacking choices, trust yourself. You can create a snack out of any healthy option you are eating. The more color the better and have fun with it! Try something new and mix things that you normally wouldn’t. Create your own yogurt cups, overnight oats, veggie mixes, mini quiches, pancakes or fruit and nut mixes. The options are limitless and can all be created from whole foods prepared by you. It does not mean hours of slaving in the kitchen. It just takes a bit of preparation and planning.
Save the cost of having them package it for you and use it to buy Tupperware and a cooler bag that you can take with you for the day! This makes staying on track much easier.
- As you put the groceries away, make it a family affair to prepare your groceries in servings so that everyone can grab and go throughout the day.
- When cooking, cook multiple servings and use different flavor profiles to create multiple meal options with the same ingredients.
*Outsmart the grocery store: Letting them add a process for you to make your life ‘easier’ allows them to create value and increase price of the item. Convenience products usually have added ingredients used to preserve the items longer for you, but usually these are unnecessary ingredients that do not aid in your lifestyle.
4) Get out of your routine, be inspired and try something new:
- Try new fruits and veggies that you have never tried before. Expand your pallet and implement new flavors to the dinner table. A lot of the time we stick to foods we are comfortable with. When implementing a new flavor, we savor the taste more and tend to not overindulge on that food as much as we would on something we are accustomed to eating regularly.
- Make the right choices for everyone in the family if you are shopping for more than just yourself. Do not justify your reasoning to buy a temptation item your husband or children love it and don’t need to be dieting. Again, this is not a diet or sacrifice, it is a lifestyle and the whole family can benefit from your new knowledge. We all know, if it is not there, the urge to consume it goes away. Making healthy choices for your family does not mean punishment or sacrifice. By introducing new items into the mix you enhance the culinary awareness and the ability to adapt to new situations, new cultures, new tastes and appreciation for the taste of fresh ingredients.
*Outsmart the grocery store: Grocery stores are set up typically for you to experience the store counter clockwise taking you in a direction to make purchasing choices differently a.k.a. spend more. The exit is typically only accessible once you have journeyed through the entire store. Shop with a list and buy only what you need, not what the store tells you you need. When you want to try something new, purchase the raw ingredients and create at home!
5 -Be Label Smart! If you are living your healthiest lifestyle and doing a lot of your own food prepping, creating and processing at home, most of your food items will not have labels and if they do, the labels should be short and precise and legible. If you are enticed by a new product and want to try it out for fun, be aware of the hidden tricks behind a label.
- Sugar Added – Sugar is seldom labeled as such on the back of a product. It hides in many forms and has many aliases that may not seem so bad when you are purchasing a product. Beware of common ingredient names that are simply just sugar (fructose, sucrose, glucose, lactose, concentrated fruit juice, beet sugar, corn syrup) ….the list goes on and on
- Ingredient list order of importance – the main ingredients are listed first and tapered off as the weight decreases in the ingredient list. This is a way that the product manufacturers can hide sugar abundance. There may be multiple forms used allowing them to list it later in the label, but when all summed up, the sugar content is larger than it seems.
- Sodium – sodium is in foods naturally and a bit of added sodium is ok, but it is easy to over consume and may be out of control if you are doubling or tripling some serving sizes of seasonings and sauces.
- Serving sizes – make sure you are serving size smart. Even healthy items can work against you if you eat too much of them. Our body only needs and can only process certain amounts before that ‘healthy’ food is held on as excess weight.
- Added ingredients to whole foods? Is fresh the same as frozen or canned? This is in line with the convenience factor. Watch out for pre cooked, pre prepared, pre packaged convenient items. The pre cooked chicken breast that you are buying as a handy snack in place of the raw chicken breast? Look out for the added oils, salts and who knows what. Suddenly that innocent snack is filled with unnecessary ingredients and has a nutrient profile totally different from the real thing.
- Calorie Free: Companies can list anything that is < 5 calories as “Calorie Free” However, if your serving size is the bag and the bag is 10 servings that can add up to 40-50 calories of a ‘calorie free’ snack.
- Fat Free: And I repeat: Companies can list anything < .5g fat as “Fat Free” However, if your serving size is the bag and the bag is 10 servings that can add up! Also, by cutting the fat, there may be added sugar so watch out for this too.
*Outsmart the grocery store: Check the labels and don’t pay attention to the front of the box/packaging. This is where you are being marketed to and told what to buy. Flip the item over and do your research. Follow steps 1-4 and you will rock your label every time.
Remember, we can choose to eat whatever we want, buy whatever we want and enjoy whatever we want anytime and in moderation. Make sure that you have fun with living healthy and that you align your goals with your actions. Learning these methods and tips will help make the process more rewarding. It may not be easy, it may be frustrating, but know that there is a beautiful path through your journey and that the reward of living healthy is far superior to being marketed to or told what, when and where to live your life.
When we know better, we do better. – Mayo Angelou