If you’ve been trying to eat a healthier diet but you are still not losing weight, maybe you are suffering from the “health halo” effect. (1) A study was conducted that showed that people trust a “healthy” source of food and are more likely to underestimate the calorie count involved. This is similar to GREENWASHING. For example you are eating a salad so you feel like you made a healthy choice so you “treat” yourself with a cookie. Words such as “multi-grain” and “trans fat free” trigger this effect.
Of course you know that when you walk into your local supermarket, endless planning has been done to make sure you part with the most money possible. Every section, shelf and aisle has been meticulously planned and items prominently placed to garner your hard earned dollar. Manufacturers pay for the space they occupy so the best “eye level” shelving is the most sought after spots! Make sure that you are getting the most out of every penny you spend by following a few simple ideas:
If possible leave the kids at home. However, because I know from personal experience that is a rare treat, you will want to know how to distract your children. Did you know that cereal manufacturers spend more money advertising to the children than any other packaged food category? According to the FTC, they are willing to invest big bucks to obtain the lower shelves in the grocery aisle where your sugar loving children can see their products. Seeing is wanting, am I right? You know what happens next! “Can I have it mom, please?” So look for brands that are healthier and also cheaper than their big name counterparts, or do what I do…skip the cereal aisle.
Start shopping in the back of the grocery store to lower your grocery bill. Typically, the staple items are in the back, milk, eggs, bread and so on are placed as far back as possible to entice you to buy all the junk food you see on your way back there. Don’t even look to the left or the right! Just head right straight back and grab your staples first! After you have filled your cart with the essentials, you will want to be very cautious about heading down the middle aisles of the store. Studies show the most successful shoppers stay around the outside perimeter of the store while only briefly popping in one or two middle aisles. The highest calorie foods are found in the snack aisles with cereals following close behind.
Pay careful attention to the ingredient list. This is not the Nutrition Facts. Read the actual list of ingredients. Know exactly what is in your food. Just because the label says “trans fat free” or “gluten free” or “sugar free” or “fat free” doesn’t mean it is a health food. You must Read The Label!
When you are looking for items in an aisle always search the top and bottom shelves first. The items with less sugar, higher fiber content and less sodium usually occupy these shelves. Hit the produce section last. Not only will your produce stay fresh longer since it was placed in your cart last, it will also help you finish on a good note, keep you from wasting cart space on junky foods and prevent you from thinking you are buying healthier foods than you are. Research has shown that when shoppers go to the produce section first they typically spend more money in the store, because everything looks healthier after staring at the beautiful bounty of fruits and vegetables!
I honestly dislike the self checkouts, but according to recent studies, impulse purchases drop by almost a third when women use the self checkout aisle! This is not only great for your budget but also for your waistline!
If you truly want to control your diet and your health you will need a properly stocked pantry and fridge. So, know well in advance what you plan to eat and have your list ready when you go shopping!
Some quick tips for adding healthier choices to your cart:
- Skip farmed salmon, it has more inflammation causing omega -6 acids because of the soy based feed, this has a negative effect on your heart, opt for wild salmon instead or rainbow trout
- Think about switching from dairy to almond milk, however avoid brands with carrageenan, a thickening agent that has been linked to gastrointestinal problems.
- When choosing nuts, pass up on the roasted ones. They are usually cooked in partially hydrogenated oils which can raise bad cholesterol, look for raw nuts or skip entirely. Add plenty of flax and chia seeds to your pantry as well.
- Want great breath? Don’t get it at the cost of your health! Most artificial sweeteners in gum are health destroyers. Look for brands like Pur and Glee instead.
- Never underestimate the power of spices, cinnamon can actually help to stabilize blood sugar. Turmeric is helpful for fighting inflammation. Herbs and spices can replace some of the salt in the meals you cook, too!
- Eggs are one of the best dietary sources of the B vitamin choline which is used by all the body’s cell membranes!
- Avocado is a great choice for satiety, add it to salads, make guacamole and use veggies to dip!
- Eating organic apples with the skin on will help reduce fat and shave away pounds.
- Add some organic coconut oil to your cart to really boost your health!