So you're trying to watch what you eat and lose weight. How do you resist temptation when you're in a grocery store surrounded by all kinds of food and food-like products, and all kinds of marketing efforts to get you to buy the food?
Remember Your Five P's
It's a little saying used in the military that applies to most things in life. What are the Five P's, you ask? Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. It means that if you take the time to plan your action, you'll figure out the problems ahead of time and avoid mistakes.
This little nugget of wisdom is especially helpful when it comes to grocery shopping. Sitting down and planning out your weekly menu, then writing down precisely what items you'll need prevents impulsive buying and a cart full of junk food. The Five P's is the antidote for a multitude of food shopping don'ts, including these:
Don't … Go to the Grocery Store Hungry
A hungry person in a grocery store is like a fox in a henhouse or a thief in a bank vault. The temptation of all that food is too overwhelming. Your decision making will be influenced by your desire to eat, and the chance of making poor choices is high. (This is a smart tactic for those on a budget too.)
Don't … Decide What's for Dinner as You Shop
While plenty of men cook, the fact is that in most households, it's the woman who decides the answer to that age-old question, "What's for dinner?" If that means you, forget the idea that you'll be inspired to cook something new by browsing around the grocery store. That store is a business with one purpose: to get you to buy more stuff. So they're going to promote items that they need to get rid of—overstocked items, food that's about to expire, or goodies that food companies pay them to promote to gain more customers.
Food companies and grocery stores couldn't care less about your health or weight goals, so don't buy what they're promoting that day. Buy what you already planned to eat before you entered the store.
Don't … Stroll Up and Down the Aisles to See What's New
We're busy chicks, so the idea of walking around a store just to see what's new sounds like an extraordinary waste of time. To us, grocery shopping is simply another chore on the list. But we know plenty of gals who thoroughly enjoy browsing any store and being the first to try to the latest products featured on the end of the aisle. If this sounds like you, try to channel your shopping energy toward workout clothes, running shoes, or anything other than food. Sampling newly produced food items isn't good for your waistline because no company has ever invented a new kind of fruit or vegetable, which is what we should all be eating. In fact, if the food we're eating actually has to be invented and created at a factory, it probably doesn't belong in our shopping carts.
Don't … Buying Something Because It's on Sale
Should you buy that macaroni and cheese "dinner in a box" because it was a two-for-one deal this week? No way! Instead of saving two dollars, you actually spent two dollars to create twice as many fat cells.
Have you ever noticed that healthy foods like vegetables, lean chicken, and fresh fish rarely go on sale? Ever received a coupon for asparagus or tilapia? Nope. But sugary breakfast cereals, sodas, and tortilla chips are always on sale. That's because junky, processed foods are so cheaply made that manufacturers can afford to give them away to get new customers hooked on them. Only buy fake foods (processed foods) that are on sale if you're willing to work off your "savings" in sweat.
Now that you know what supermarket pitfalls to avoid, let's see how to use the Five P's to shop with a purpose, and other shopping do's, including these:
Do … Plan Your Menu
Take the time to sit down and write out what you'll eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next five days. This will ensure that you buy only the healthy foods you'll need and will prevent you from having unhealthy food in the house to snack on during weak moments.
A menu will also solve the what's-for-dinner problem. Every day you'll know precisely what's for dinner because you've written it down and have the ingredients in the house. Menu planning also helps you stick to your 500-calorie dinners. You've already got the recipe and the ingredients, so you'll be sure to make it. It also prevents last-second trips to fast-food restaurants that are usually motivated by empty refrigerators and lack of planning. Remember the shopping mantra: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.