If you open your pantry and refrigerator and all you see is frozen/processed foods then chances are you do not have a very balanced/healthy diet. A lot of the time the reasons people load their shopping carts with these types of foods is either because they don’t know how to cook real food or they don’t know what types of food they should be eating to maintain a healthy diet. This is probably the most frequent question I get asked and that is which foods are considered “healthy”. Well, don’t worry everyone; I am here to guide you through your grocery store struggles! There are a few things to consider when you are about to venture off into what I like to call “The Land of Ultimate Temptation”, otherwise known as the grocery store. Do you ever walk into the grocery store with the idea that the sole purpose is to buy ____, ____, ____ (fill in the blank) only to find a mountain of groceries sitting on your kitchen counter and an empty wallet? As you stare at the pile that will ultimately bring you to an inevitable downward spiral of over indulgence and overeating you say to yourself, “How did I get here?” Well the answer is because you weren’t MENTALLY prepared to go grocery shopping. You need to show up to the grocery store guns hot, ready to kick those cravings out the door! Now, I understand how enticing it can be walking in and seeing all of your favorite treats on the shelves whispering to you, “Put me in your basket, you know you want to take me home”. Trust me, I get that feeling every time I see box of Reese’s Puffs cereal…seriously my guilty pleasure. However, if you want to eliminate these temptations and maintain a clean, healthy diet then here is a list of what to do and what not to do when you are about to go shopping:
- Never go to the grocery store hungry! This seems to be a huge factor in unnecessary purchases once you hit the check out counter. If you’re hungry you’re more likely to grab items off the shelf that look good to eat. Remember, MIND OVER MATTER!
- Bring only cash! How you pay for your groceries may actually influence how much impulse buying you do on cheat foods, according to research from Cornell University. The researchers looked at register receipts over a six-month period from a random sample of 1,000 loyal shoppers at a supermarket chain. The scientists studied what types of foods were purchased in 100 different food categories as well as the payment method. They reported in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research that when shoppers used a credit or debit card, they made more impulse buys on “unhealthy” food products than when they used cash.
- Read the labels! More times than none people don’t even read the labels on packaged food. Food companies advertise that their food is healthier by using marketing tactics like writing “Low Calorie” or “Fat Free” etc. on the front of their product. Well, although they may be low calorie or do not contain and fat, read the label because chances are it’s packed with all sorts of stuff you probably can’t even pronounce! Trust me, just put it back on the shelf and walk away. This leads me to the next topic…
- If you can’t pronounce it, it isn’t good for you! The less “ingredients” a food has, the better it is for you. For example, a bag of Hot Cheetos contains 46 ingredients. FORTY-SIX! Now, if you ask me I’d much rather have a snack that contains ONE ingredient like an apple. Not only is an apple extremely nutrient dense (meaning that it provides substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals and relatively few calories), but it doesn’t contain ingredients like enriched corn meal, ferrous sulfate, and thiamin mononitrate (the first three of 46 ingredients found in a bag of Hot Cheetos).
- Avoid the isles! If you want to stick to a clean diet, then shopping on the rim of the grocery store is where most of your shopping will take place. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats! Your shopping in the isles should be limited to beans, rice and legumes.
Elizabeth Brown is 22 years old born and raised in San Jose, California. Sheis a full time student in the process of transferring to San Jose State University to complete her Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology. As Bodybuilding.com’s 2012 Fit USA Winner, Fitness Model, Spokes Model for Bodybuilding.com’s upcoming B-Elite clothing series, NPC Bikini Competitor, and newly Certified Personal Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, she aspires to build a career in the Health and Fitness industry to further help and inspire others to achieve their fitness goals.