1. Go With a Plan
The rule here is: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Grocery stores have science on their side, with tricks to make you want to buy things that you don’t necessarily need. They play on your impulses, so make sure you go in with a grocery list. You may find one or two things that you need for your week’s meals that you forgot to write down on your list, but going into the store knowing what you should be coming out with will help you too avoid too many impulse buys.
2. Don’t Bring Your Kids
Kids are affected most buy the subliminal science that gets you to make impulse buys, since they haven’t learned all of the bull* that brands try to sell to you. Kids play on your impulses too. They know exactly how to get you to do what they want, whether having a fit in the aisles, to giving you those adorable puppy dog eyes, to saying “just this time pleeeease”. Kids don’t hold you accountable for your health; they’re just after the colourful cereals and chocolate bars so that they can get their fill of kid-coke (aka sugar).
On top of that, no one wants to hear your spoiled kids screaming while they’re trying to pick up ingredients for a romantic dinner, or trying to ring you through. It’s rude, it’s annoying, and it’s completely avoidable… don’t bring them in the first place.
3. Don’t Go Hungry
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve gone to the grocery store with a list for my meal preps, ready to start a healthy week, and then ended up buying way too much junk and spending way too much of my paycheque. I’ve figured out that every time this has happened, I had gone to the grocery store when I was hungry. My body was craving anything and everything.
When you’re hungry, you’re not as capable in resisting temptation. This has been seen in several studies of will power. When you go to the grocery store hungry, you’re most vulnerable to advertising techniques and end up impulse buying more than ever. So, do yourself, your waistline, and your wallet a favour, and eat before you head into the market.
4. Avoid the Aisles
This is the key to buying and eating healthy foods. Most foods in the aisles (other than rice, legumes and nuts) are processed and filled with “ingredients” that slow down your digestion and leave you craving more junk. This is also where you find your junk foods like candy bars and sugary cereals. When you hit the canned/jarred food aisles, you find foods saturated in sugars, salts and preservatives since those are what increases the product’s shelf life. I recommend that you only head into the aisles with dried beans/lentils, rice and raw nuts when you need to stock up on them. Other wise, sticking to the outside aisles leaves you with the fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, less processed deli cheeses, meats, eggs, dairy and breads. All of which will help you build a healthy meal plan for weight loss.
5. Compare Your Foods
When heading to the bread section, for example, you’re faced with many options which can leave you with the desire to impulse buy. Low prices, magic marketing words and nutrition labels can play tricks on you to have you thinking that you’re getting the best value when you’re not.
When it comes to prices: Some products may be listed as a lower price but then you’re not getting as much of the product, so if you keep buying it again and again, you’re actually spending more money in the long run. Check the pricing labels for the “Price by Unit” (it will usually be in a smaller font size). You could be buying something for $5.99 instead of $6.59, but spending $0.576 per 100g as opposed to $0.293 per 100g… again, spending more in the long run without even knowing it.
When it comes to nutrition: Look at the ingredients first and decide which one has the most “real food” ingredients. Don’t get tricked by the percentages on nutrition labels; one product may have 1/2 of the calories, but be showing 1/4 of the serving size (therefore actually being double the calories). On the other hand, it may still have the best nutrition label, but contain a ton of added preservatives and fillers (usually the words that sound too scientific to be in a tomato sauce) to make the nutrition label look better. Buying butter over Becel means you’re buying one whole food ingredient over a bunch of chemicals and oil mixed with milk powder. Buying sprouted grain over whole wheat bread means their are more nutrients for your body to thrive off of. Educate yourself on what you are buying before you buy it. You are what you eat, after all.