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  • Writer's pictureAli

Effortless Grocery Shopping Guide

Updated: Jan 11



Grocery shopping can be a daunting task that often leaves people feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Supermarkets use behaviour design psychology to influence buying habits, which can drive the purchase of ultra-processed foods that are unhealthy. 


If you go to the store without a plan, it's easy to fill your cart with convenient yet unhealthy foods. Fortunately, this guide provides easy steps to help ensure that you leave the grocery store feeling guilt-free, happier, and with the right foods to support a healthy diet.


CREATE A SHOPPING LIST.

Studies have shown that a grocery list decreases impulse buying, leading to improved weight control and healthier food choices, prioritizing nutritious food. 


To get started: 

  • Make a list of all your cooking staples, most of which you won't have to buy every week. 

  • Keep the staple list in a notes app or stuck to the fridge. 

  • Copy the list each week and remove anything you don't need that week. 

  • Plan your weekly meals. 

  • Choose several recipes for the week that fit your eating plan and add all the ingredients to the same list as the staples. 

  • Create different grocery lists for specific stores. 


SHOP THE EDGE OF THE STORE FIRST.

When you go grocery shopping, it's important to know where to look for healthy foods. Typically, fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins, and other perishables can be found on the outer perimeters of the grocery store. Try to start your shopping there and then move to the aisles for other items. 


Don't make the mistake of avoiding the aisles completely though. You can find healthy nuts, seeds, whole grains, and frozen foods throughout the aisles. Just remember to stick to your grocery list and focus on nutritious items to stay on track.


AVOID CARTOONS.

Cartoons on food packaging serve two purposes. Firstly, they attract children to develop a lifelong affinity towards the product. Secondly, they target adults' sense of nostalgia, which often overrides their common sense. To avoid consuming junk food, it is advisable to stay away from any food item that has cartoons on its label. 


If you don't want to consume unhealthy food, make sure not to have any cartoon-packaged products in your house.


FIVE INGREDIENT RULE.

It's a good idea to avoid packaged foods that have more than five ingredients. The more ingredients a food has, the more likely it is to be ultra-processed and contain artificial ingredients that may not be beneficial for your health. 


However, keep in mind that some product marketers are aware of this rule and may list some products as "only five ingredients," so it's important to still check the ingredients list. Even if a product has only five ingredients, if they are artificial, it's still best to avoid it.


FOOD LABEL TRAP.

Research has shown that adding health claims to food packaging can lead people to believe that a product is healthier than it actually is. For instance, a 3kg bag of organic certified, gluten-free, plant-based essential sugar is still just a bag of sugar. 


Here is another example: in the 1920s, the typical American breakfast was a small coffee, maybe a bread roll, and orange juice. At this time, the largest bacon producer in the US was struggling. They reached out to Edward Bernays, an American pioneer in public relations and propaganda and the nephew of Sigmund Freud. 


Bernays contacted 5,000 physicians and asked them if a more substantial breakfast would be beneficial. The majority (4,500) agreed that a larger breakfast would provide more energy and be good for the health of the American people. Bernays arranged for this finding to be published nationwide and encouraged articles stating that bacon and eggs should be a central part of a bigger, healthier breakfast. As a result, bacon sales increased exponentially, and it became a staple "breakfast" food. 


Manufacturers often use misleading health claims to sway consumer choices, so it's important to keep that in mind while grocery shopping.


THE BOTTOM LINE.

Most grocery stores promote unhealthy eating by encouraging impulse purchases of ultra-processed foods. To stay healthy and focused while grocery shopping, create a plan and prepare in advance.


Use this quick action list to keep on track: 

  • Ignore discount signs designed to encourage unhealthy eating. 

  • Buy mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods.

  • Shop off of your list or weekly meal plan.

  • Avoid purchasing foods based on the packaging. 

  • Read the nutrition labels and ingredient lists of packaged foods. 

  • Stick to your plan to avoid impulse buying. 


 

Written by Ali.

Live in Harmony Co-Creator.

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