Arriving at the grocery store is full of possibilities… What delicious foods will I leave with today? Is my special milk on sale? Should I buy ingredients in bulk so I can make tacos for lunch every day?
The possibilities are endless.
Unfortunately, the temple of temptation that is my local grocery store provides just as many opportunities to eat terribly as it does to stock up on healthy meals and snacks… especially if I’m grocery shopping on an empty stomach. (Shopping while hungry really ups the ante on the, “What delicious foods will I leave with today?” question. I think, “Don’t shop on an empty stomach” should actually be a bonus rule for this post.)
So, while working towards a happier, healthier lifestyle, I decided to create a list of five habits to adopt for healthy grocery shopping:
Habit 1: Plan healthy meals (and snacks) in advance
Planning out your meals and snacks in advance can have a huge impact on your eating habits. Having meals pre-planned helps avoid last minute decisions to order pizza, and allows you to shop with a specific list of ingredients. Ensuring you always have a supply of healthy snacks with you also helps kick cravings.
Habit 2: Shop with a list
Yay! Lists! I love lists! I do not always love sticking to lists… but in the case of grocery shopping, having a list can ensure you have all of the ingredients you need for your pre-planned meals (since you’re prepared like that), and helps you avoid buying needless groceries that will either go bad in the fridge or be eaten during a midnight snack break.
Habit 3: Spend most of your time on the perimeter of the store
The perimeter of most grocery stores have all of the produce and real food, so try to fill up your cart in these areas. Don’t wander the aisles, or you might end up with four bags of chips and 2 different flavors of Oreos (… which may or may not be based on personal experience.)
Habit 4: Stop buying “fake-healthy” foods
Packaging with phrases like, “all natural” and “fat free” can often trick you into thinking you’re buying something healthy, when it’s often just marketing BS. Try to learn about what makes a food healthy and nutritious, and stick with reading food labels instead of getting suckered in by fancy packaging. When possible, try to buy real food (fruit, veg, meat, nuts, etc.), and buy organic. Also try to buy healthy proteins like grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, and free range eggs. They contain more nutrition than their grain-fed counterparts, and often have less antibiotics and growth hormones in them. (Unfortunately, these healthier options are often more expensive, so try to fit them in when it’s reasonable!) A great place to buy real, healthy foods is your local farmers market.
Habit 5: Change your eating habits over time
When I make resolutions, I am often guilty of going “all-in”, which usually leads to a big fat failure. Instead, focusing on small changes over time allows you to adopt better habits, and allows your body to adapt to new dietary changes.