Some people love it, others avoid it like the plague, but no matter which camp you fall into you are guaranteed to be spending plenty of money there each week — your local supermarket.
So what if I told you that the way you shop each week could actually impact your weight? Indeed some very simple supermarket tricks can go a long way in helping you keep the number of calories that make their way into your supermarket trolley much, much lower.
So if you know that you are buying items each week that you don’t need or even want to be eating, here are some simple hacks you can use to outsmart the supermarket.
Shop in the morning
Many of us make our way to the shops after school or on the way home from work but the truth is that self-control can act a little like a muscle, which means we want to use it when it is fresh and not fatigued.
When we wait until late in the day to shop we are less likely to be able to resist temptation. It is also the time of day when we are more likely to be hungry and looking for sweet, carbohydrate-rich foods to satisfy us, so it is going to be much harder to walk past the Tim Tam’s on the specials display. Shop early in the day and save yourself the need to practise extreme self-control.
Make a list
Making a shopping list is one of the easiest ways you can avoid buying foods you do not need. A list immediately focuses your attention to the items you do want to buy, as opposed to being lured by tempting visual displays that are all around in supermarkets with their discounted items and front of aisle displays.
Making a list also facilitates meal planning, which is another easy way to support calorie control each week.
Get a small trolley
The bigger the trolley, the greater the number of items you will fill it with, similar to the way we eat more when we serve our food on larger plates.
Even better, reach for a basket to keep your shopping haul under control, especially when you are ducking into the supermarket quickly to pick up a couple of things.
Skip aisles and avoid temptation
The way supermarket aisles are structured makes it very easy to skip certain aisles entirely. If you don’t need soft drinks, snacks or confectionery, there is no need to visit these aisles at all.
Rather, you can stick to the fresh sections on the outside, pick up any sauces or tinned goods and make your way to the freezer section, skipping the more tempting offerings completely.
Do something else at the same time
While behavioural specialists generally encourage mindfulness, there is a lot to be said for being a little distracted when shopping, by talking on the phone or listening to music. Here, you will remain focused on what items you really need and came in for, as opposed to what crosses your eye line.
Go after eating
Going to the supermarket when you are hungry is a recipe for disaster, as low blood glucose levels will drive you to seek out high carbohydrate, sweet-tasting foods.
On the other hand, the sight of more food after you have just eaten a satisfying, nutritionally-balanced meal will keep you on the straight and narrow.
Go less often
One of the biggest issues with the way we shop in modern life is that we go to the supermarket multiple times each week, generally buying far more than we need each time.
An easy way to cut back on what you are eating is to basically buy less and only shop when you have almost nothing left to eat in the house. Not only is this a great way to minimise food waste but it will save you lots of extra calories and lots of extra dollars — and perhaps even squeeze in some incidental exercise from all those extra trips to the shops.
Or go online…
One thing supermarkets do not want us to do is stop visiting them, as it is the two-for-one offers, heavily-discounted junk food and end-of-aisle displays that they desperately want us to see so we buy more.
Although online shopping isn’t entirely free of eye-catching specials ads, there’s definitely less temptation than what you’ll encounter in a store. Not only does shopping online help to facilitate meal planning each week and save lots of time, but it also means you have much more control over what you buy and ultimately what you eat.
Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, co-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.
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