Do you have a plan when you enter the supermarket?
Or do you wander aimlessly through the aisles hoping to pick out what you need? It is imperative to have a goal while you shop.
Otherwise, you may come home with an assortment of healthy food that don’t go with each other. Or you’ll find your shopping cart full of comfort food, leaving you without healthy options for the week. If you want to live a healthy lifestyle or lose weight, your shopping cart will be the denominator of that success. Here’s how to make the most of it.
Make a Shopping List Before Entering the Market
Being impulsive can be wonderful, but not when you’re trying to prepare for a week of healthy eating. A shopping list will give you two advantages when you go to the store. It will help you put together healthy meals.
Without a list, you’ll probably end up buying lots of processed meals, ingredients that don’t make a complete meal or the same boring standards over and over again. If you want to bring some variety into your diet, pick one new recipe a week and add the ingredients onto your shopping list. But at the very least, make sure you have a list, because it is one of the best ways to keep you responsible for what goes into your shopping cart.
Start Shopping from the Periphery of the Store
Where are the healthiest items in the supermarket? They’re in the periphery of the store. The periphery of the store is where all the fresh fruits and vegetables are displayed. It also houses chicken, turkey, fish, eggs and dairy products.
It is where you can find healthier snack items like hummus and nuts. Approximately 2/3rds of your shopping cart should be filled before you get to the inner aisles. There are some healthy items that can be found in the center of the store like grains, legumes, frozen vegetables and coconut oil. But most of your healthy food choices will be found before you start walking down the aisles.
Try a New Vegetable
Ever take time looking through the produce section? You probably realize that there are vegetables that you can’t identify, let alone know what they taste like. A fun thing to do is find out the name of a new vegetable (there is usually a placard to identify each vegetable) and then get on your phone and look-up a quick recipe.
This is a great way to combat healthy eating boredom as well as get new nutrients into your system. Just make sure to add the other ingredients from the recipe on your shopping list so you have something to do with your new vegetable once you get it home. You might become surprised about all the great, healthy foods which you’ve never tried.
Don’t Forget to Purchase Snacks
Too often, people overlook snacks when shopping for a healthy diet. But that becomes problematic if you get hungry between meals. Without healthy snacks on hand, you’re likely to run to the work vending machine. Or you’ll raid the fridge the second you get home. It is important to not only think of healthy snacks you would enjoy but find ways to make them portable.
And look beyond fruit when you consider your snacking options. Options with protein can also come in handy. So think of nuts, turkey slices, unsweetened yogurt, and hummus. But prepare for healthy snacking or you’ll be at the mercy of whatever food item is in front of you at the moment.
Take a Label Reading Challenge
I talk often about the dangers of all the hidden sugar in the food we eat. A great challenge is to read the ingredients label of every food item before putting it in your shopping cart. If a label contains sugar (or artificial sweetener), leave it out. When in doubt, if a word ends with “ose”, like in sucrose, dextrose or fructose, it contains sugar.
You must read every label because sugar is often hidden in healthy food like salad dressing, tomato sauce, canned soup, dried fruit and more. I try to shop sugar-free and save my treats from when I’m away from home. That way I’m less likely to overindulge. Do this for one week to see how it changes the look of your shopping cart as well as how you feel.
Avoid your Own Personal “Danger” Aisle
We all have a weak spot. Something that helps us come undone with our diet. The kind of food that we’re more likely to overindulge in. The section of the store that houses your problem food is your danger aisle. The first step to overcoming being unraveled by this food is to keep your shopping cart as far away from that aisle as possible.
The great thing about supermarkets is that they have more than enough food. You don’t need to go down every aisle. And if you want your favorite food from time to time, buy it when you’re out. That way you can have it in small amounts where it is less likely to make you binge.
Buy Yourself a Treat That Isn’t Food
When you’re feeling deprived by what you’ve left out of your shopping cart, look for other ways to fulfill your needs. Buying candles, bath salts or fun magazines are good alternatives. Whatever it is, make sure to get something that allows you to feel like you are treating yourself. Taking care of yourself should never be about deprivation, but about treating yourself in healthier ways.
The choice to eat healthy starts with your purchases. So develop a plan to get the most out of your shopping experience. When you come home with healthy food to sustain you through the week, you’ve conquered your first diet-change battle. And from there, success is within your reach!