Here in the 4th post of the series, it’s time to talk about some smart strategies in the grocery store. I know a lot of posts you see are talking about making thrifty choices while grocery shopping, but these are some little tricks that will help you stick to these better choices even on days when you are feeling distracted or rushed.
**This post may contain affiliate links.
One of the foundations behind these little tricks is this – If you want to BE skinny, then DO what the skinny people do. I think that’s an amazing concept and I think it’s so simple to do. If you could follow a skinny person around a grocery store, you might notice that they are making many different choices than you might make, seemingly without even thinking about it. That’s exactly what the researchers did for this book and they came up with some very intriguing tips.If you chew gum, you will effortlessly buy 7% less junk food Click To Tweet
- One thing that has been very successful in these experiments is to mentally divide your cart in half. Decide that the front half of the cart is going to be your healthy choices, while the back half can be the pizza, cookies, and other foods you enjoy. That way 50% of your food is guaranteed to be healthy choices.
- This is also a super-EASY and way to diet. Forget all the counting points or calories or weighing and measuring. Instead, just make a commitment that HALF of your plate needs to be healthy choices. The other half of the plate can be whatever you want – pizza, steak, fettuccini alfredo, whatever. You can even have seconds, so long as you eat the veggies in proportion to the yummy stuff. Try it – according to the research, you’ll lose weight that way.
- Traditional wisdom says that you should never shop while you’re hungry. Brian agrees with this assessment, but for a completely different reason. He’s done extensive research on this. Surprisingly, you will not buy MORE food if you shop while you are hungry. However, you will make WORSE CHOICES, both from a nutritional and a budgetary point of view. So don’t go hungry, no matter what.
- You will spend approximately $1 per minute for every minute you spend in the grocery store. Therefore the message is MOVE IT. Walk briskly. Grocery stores deliberately choose slow music to encourage you to move slow. Outsmart them by using your headphones and playing your most upbeat music. Comfy tennis shoes also a good choice.
- According to Brian, the first items you see are more likely to end up in your cart. Later in the trip when you are getting fatigued, your judgment and willpower are somewhat less effective. So, your best strategy is to start in the produce area and make sure you walk completely around the area to spot all the best choices. Remember, you have half a cart to fill with this and you are going to need a lot of good choices to fill up half your plate at each meal.
- Hit the sugary cereal aisle and frozen foods last. As your cart gets more full, you will be more choosy than you were in the first few minutes and buy these high-calorie items in more moderation.
- Part of what we do when we are thinking of buying a particular food is that we visualize how it will taste in our mouths. That is what makes cookies and potato chips such a big temptation because they have a great mouth-feel – they are carefully engineered that way. Do you know how to outsmart this problem? Chew gum. Mint flavored is best. If you chew gum, you will effortlessly buy 7% less junk food.
- A lot of the time when we are on a health kick, we go overboard and fill up on rice cakes and kale chips, and other foods that we feel are “virtuous choices”. However, it isn’t nutrition if you won’t EAT it! You want to make some good choices, but it’s silly to waste your money on foods you or your family definitely don’t like and aren’t likely to eat. Instead focus on smaller changes that don’t seem like a big deal, like low-fat mayo instead of full fat mayo, or healthy popcorn rather than potato chips. It will add up over the long run.
- Bonus tip – use your phone’s camera to help you manage your eating. Tell yourself that you can have ANYTHING you want, so long as you are willing to take a photo of it first. You don’t have to embarrass or fat-shame yourself by posting it on Facebook or whatever, but just the act of even thinking about taking a picture of your food, makes you stop and think about your choices, and you are very likely to end up making some better choices. It’s easier than food journaling and it’s just as effective.
Most of these ideas came from a book by a brilliant behavioral scientist called Brian Wansink. He has written several books, but these are my favorites:
Here’s a link to an earlier post I did on his previous book Mindless Eating. Again, it has tons of ideas for how to easily change your eating habits for the better and how to get your family on the healthy eating bandwagon too, without ANY whining and fussing from your kids OR your husband!
Here are the other posts coming up in the series (I’ll add links once they are published.)
#1 – Beat the Buffet – Posted Jan 1st
#2 – Skinny Size Your Kitchen – Posted Jan 2nd
#3 – Snack Proof Your House – Posted Jan 3rd
#4 – Outsmart the Grocery Store – Today!
#5 – Revamp the School Cafeteria – coming Jan 5th
Note: To my regular readers – this series may look a little familiar to you. I tried posting these around Halloween and discovered that was a terrible time to start a series on weight loss when everyone was slavering over their Halloween goodies and planning their Thanksgiving meals. So, I have revamped them and added some snazzy graphics for the New Year’s resolution crowd. Sorry for the repetition.