Every week or fortnight, you visit the supermarket, you go through the aisles and put products in your cart. But, when you get home, you realize that you have bought foods that you had never intended to buy in the first place. You also realize that there are foods sitting in your bags which are not healthy and you don’t even remember picking them up. Sorry to burst your little bubble, but it was YOU who actually picked them up, put them in your cart and paid for them.
Try to remember when you walked past the aisle that stocked chocolate spreads, how it made you weak in the knees and called you out to pick it up; and you did. Or when you tasted instant noodles in your mouth by just looking at the bright yellow packet. See, this was how those unhealthy food items landed up in your shopping bags.
Believe me, we have all been there and it is not because of your lack of determination entirely.
You have been played!
Just like an amusement park, your journey through the supermarket maze has been cleverly designed for you to make these choices. It takes more than your determination to swift through these hurdles and not make the choices that would hurt your goals.
As a practicing health expert, I can unhesitatingly tell you that all the ‘eating healthy, moving more’ mantras go down the drain if you don’t have a pantry full of products that not only nourishes you, but also provides you with the joy of eating. Your health fate for the next week or 2 weeks is sealed the moment you make your choice at the grocery store. That one choice between a pack of potato chips and a pack of nuts is what is going to determine your health journey.
What if we empower you to navigate the supermarket aisles like a pro to make informed choices that won’t undermine your efforts towards eating clean. Here is how you can master the art of grocery shopping:
- Make a list
Yes, it may sound traditional but making a grocery list can provide a disciplined approach to your shopping spree. Making a list is not a time consuming or tedious affair as it is perceived to be. Just take out 5 minutes from your routine and look at your staples and perishable produce, plan meals if you can, contemplate on what you and your body need and jot it down. As simple as that! Virtual diaries and health apps make it effortless and interesting by helping you to stay at the top of your game when it comes to meal planning.
- Keep it simple and seasonal
Seasonal and simple local produce ensures that you are having the tastiest and healthiest natural foods. This produce is at its peak on nourishment, flavor and texture which is what you exactly need. Do not indulge in produce of another continent that was harvested way before its peak to be refrigerated, chemically ripened, packaged and transported to the store nearest to you. Ensure that you eat the produce that was grown at the same time of the year you get to eat them.
- Weigh your options
‘Save 25% on a jumbo bottle of cola’ makes your eyes pop out and before you know, there is an involuntary force that drags you towards the shelf. Food packages are getting larger than ever in size and we are constantly fooled by the feel of getting more value for our money. Researches now claim that people eat more when they are confronted with larger portion sizes. When at the supermarket, do not give into marketing gimmicks that make you buy larger portions than you need.
- Never buy food when you are hungry
How many of us regret the decisions that we made when we were hungry? Science now backs up the fact that grocery shopping on an empty stomach is not a good idea. Researchers found that hungry shoppers find high-calorie foods tempting and that hungry shoppers spent more money, and bought more products, than less-hungry ones.
Game up and trick your mind before it tricks you into making choices that can sabotage your health. Couple a fruit with some nuts before you hit the store to provide you with balanced nourishing nutrients. Other smart options you can look out for are a fruit milkshake, a stir fry, toast sandwich etc.
- Read food labels carefully
Read the food labels thoroughly. A food label is a declaration of the ingredients, their amounts, their nutrition values and how much of it you should be eating at one go. Cautiously go through the nutrients and decipher important facts like: if it has too many carbs coming from plain sugar, a chunk of trans fat, too much salt, uses chemical preservatives or stabilizers and contains content that you cannot pronounce. Learn to decode food labels with bon happetee here.
- Watch out for marketing gimmicks
Did you know that every part of the super market, from the parking to the billing desk is designed for you to buy more than you need. I once went to the supermarket to buy fruits and veggies and stepped out with a pint of ice cream, a bag of nachos, some organic bread (couldn’t resist the smell of the bakery) and loads of chewing gums. And I can’t explain why! Have you wondered how you have to cross the entire supermarket to reach the dairy aisle for milk? Well, this and many more marketing gimmicks are the reason you are buying all the unnecessary items. Steer clear of these traps and make informed choices
Use the above hacks to shop wise and stay healthy. Try the bon happetee app and experience hassle free meal planning, menu suggestions and unparalleled food wisdom that bestows the new wave of healthy eating.
Akansha is the Founder and Consultant at Beyond the Weighing Scale. With a wide range of expertise and skills, she is adept to speak about nutrition, health, lifestyle management and physical activity. She is a popular food columnist, a passionate foodie, a health enthusiast, an avid traveler and a happy yogi.