The smell of fried chicken as you walk in… Bargain bins… End-of-aisle displays everywhere. Marketing teams do their best to trick you into buying more at the grocery store. The result? You may wind up overspending and overeating… Not to mention buying foods that put your health in danger.
Don’t fall for these tricks. Here are five easy steps for healthier shopping.
1. Come prepared: A little planning goes a long way… A RAND Health study found people who shopped with a list ate healthier. They also weighed about five pounds less than people who didn’t.1
Dr. Ichiro Kawachi is the chair of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard School of Public Health. In his opinion, there’s a simple reason for this. He says having a plan—and sticking to it—is a great start when it comes to making healthier choices while food shopping.2
So take a few minutes to write a list of things you need before you shop. It could save you from temptations…and weight gain.
2. Eat this simple snack before you go:Never go shopping on an empty stomach… Eating before a trip to the store helps you buy less. But what you eat matters just as much.
Research out of Cornell University found eating an apple before grocery shopping led to purchasing more fruits and vegetables. It also helped subjects buy fewer unhealthy foods.3 This likely works with other fruits, too. Try eating an avocado. Their healthy fats help keep you feeling full.
3. Timing is everything: According to one study, people who shopped from 4:00-7:00 p.m. threw more high-calorie junk foods in their carts. Like candy and chips.4
So avoid shopping during these “higher hunger hours.” Aim for a time between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. instead. Subjects shopping in this window of time bought fewer high-calorie junk foods. They also bought greater amounts of healthier foods, such as vegetables and chicken breasts.5
4. The path to healthy food: Knowing how to navigate the grocery store is critical to making health-conscious decisions. The perimeter is where you want to shop. There you’ll find fresh, nutrient-dense whole foods. Steer clear of the middle aisles… They’re fully stocked with processed foods.6 These lack real nutrition.
Things like microwave popcorn…canned icing…snack cakes… Along with other foods high in trans fats. Health Watch readers know that trans fats extend the shelf life of foods—at the consumer’s expense. These dangerous man-made fats cause heart damage and cognitive decline.
5. Know how to spot “bad apples”: If you’re shopping the perimeter, you’ll want to head right to the produce section. But you aren’t out of the woods yet… You’ll want to buy the foods that give you the most benefit—and don’t put your health at risk.
One way to do this is to buy organic produce. Research shows almost all non-organic produce contains at least one pesticide. And you can’t avoid this by peeling or washing these foods… The chemicals penetrate deep. So keep walking past non-organic apples, bell peppers, celery, and grapes. You’ll get more antioxidant content from organic fruits and vegetables, too.
On the other hand, some conventional produce is safe. Like Avocados. Their thick skin doesn’t let insects in. Fewer threats to the crop means fewer pesticides. Any chemicals farmers do use on them can’t make it past the skin either. You can also eat asparagus, coconuts, and onions without getting a mouthful of chemicals. Just be sure they aren’t genetically modified (GM).7
Practice these tips. The more you do, the faster they’ll become part of your regular grocery routine. They may help you make healthier choices at the store… And help slim your waistline. You may even save some time and money while you’re at it.
In Good Health,
Publisher, INH Health Watch
6Asprey, David. “The Bulletproof Diet Shopping Guide.” The Bulletproof Executive (n.d.): 4. Web. 28 July 2015.