Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail: Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a pain in the butt

TDB Fitness Newsletter 8/22/2021

Part of executing a healthy diet includes intentionally stocking your fridge and pantry. Therefore, how you do your grocery shopping matters. In this week’s trainer’s tips, learn how to plan for grocery store trips that support your fitness goals.

Tip of the week:

Hack the grocery store

Does anyone else dread grocery shopping every week? Grocery shopping is one of those tasks that I always feel ends up more burdensome than it should be. Contemporary American grocery stores can be overwhelming; shelves overflowing with more options than we need to maintain a healthy diet.

The choices you make at the grocery store impact your entire diet. You can set yourself up for success all week by intentionally planning your grocery trips. Here are a few things to keep in mind as. you do so:

  • Keep a grocery list going at all times. Making a grocery list may not be new to you. However, we find that when we sit down to write our grocery list all at once, we end up forgetting a lot of what we need. Instead, Vinnie and I started a running grocery list in a document we both have access to via our smartphones. Whenever we realize we need something, we pull out our phones and put it on the list. That way the little things – like spices, condiments, staples – don’t get forgotten.
  • Eat before you go. It feels cliche to say “don’t go to the grocery store hungry,” but don’t go to the grocery store hungry.

Seriously, my hunger nudges me to add things to the cart my rational brain would recognize as a waste of money (even if the extra-large box of Lucky Charms is on sale).

  • Start with produce. This is Vinnie’s grocery store cardinal rule. At the beginning of your grocery trip you have the most energy, the most patience, and the most room in your budget. Starting with produce means utilizing this positive decision-making power on loading your diet with the healthy stuff.
  • Avoid the center aisles. There isn’t a standard for grocery store layouts. However, the center aisles are usually where you find the tempting, expensive, unhealthy stuff. This often includes seasonal items — which always includes candy. Avoiding these aisles altogether means avoiding the temptation to spend the extra money on food that isn’t good for you anyway.

Maintaining a healthy diet takes building healthy habits over time. Take some time to reflect on your grocery shopping habits. How often do you grocery shop? What do you buy while you’re there? What do you spend the most money on? Do you eat everything you usually buy?

Are your grocery store habits supporting your fitness goals?

Boredom and stress snacking

I do it too… here’s how I try not to:

Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

Most of us have used food to cope with boredom or stress. Eating food, especially food you really like, makes your brain produce dopamine; a happiness chemical. Dopamine helps relieve feelings of boredom and stress. Unfortunately, if we rely on food in this way, we end up eating far more throughout the day than our body needs. This can lead to serious mental and physical health problems, especially if we’re snacking on processed and/or sugary foods. Work on changing your relationship with snacking by trying the following:

Practice self reflection often

As with any habit you want to change, the first step is noticing. Notice when you’re eating and ask yourself some questions. Are you really feeling hungry? What feeling or urge inspired you to grab this snack? How much water have you drank today?

Practicing mindfulness is a key factor in holistic health. Understanding what you’re feeling and why will always help you modify your behavior in the moment. We eat when we’re hungry. We also eat when we’re thirsty, when we’re bored, when we’re stressed, etc. Being able to identify and define your own emotions can help you build healthier habits around eating. If you notice you’re not actually hungry, put the snack away.

Support your mental health

Building habits around maintaining positive mental health overall can help us cut down on snacking. Your “mental health” refers to your ability to regulate your emotions, cope with stress, make decisions, and relate to others. The stronger your ability to do these things, the less likely you will be to rely on food as a crutch. This also includes giving yourself grace if you make mistakes or missteps on your journey to building new habits.

Stock your pantry with healthy snacks

Let’s be real, we’re all human. And snacking brings a lot of joy to my life. I’ve tried to stop snacking altogether. At a certain point it felt counterproductive to constantly feel deprived of something I love. So, where snacking is unavoidable, set yourself up for success while you’re at the grocery store.

You have control over how you stock your fridge and pantry. If you know you’re a snacker, but you still have fitness and nutrition goals, select your snacks with intention. If you choose to buy something unhealthy, make sure it is really worth it. Otherwise, spend time and money selecting snacks that will fit into a healthy diet.

Snacking when we’re bored or stressed has become a habit for many. That means, training yourself out of that habit takes some work. If your goal is cutting down on snacking in this way, be patient with yourself. Self reflect, give yourself grace if you make mistakes, and set yourself up for success at the grocery store. The Team will always be here to support you on your journey.

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