It’s time for your dreaded food shop. You head to the same superstore that you do every week and follow the same journey around the store to gather your groceries and head to the till.
Where do you look first? What part of the store do you drift to?
Where do you spend the most time and money?
Imagine your local super market.
If you looked at it from a Birdseye view you’d see probably that the layout of these aisles are strategic. You move quickly past the fresh produce and into the aisles stuffed with processed goodies. Crisps, chocolates, treats; they’re all jam packed into the middle of the store where people tend to spend the most time mooching and browsing.
At the end of the day, eating these foods makes us feel good: there’s a dopamine hit, an endorphin rush, and being surrounded by them is going to make it more likely that they’ll end up in your trolly.
Supermarkets are a business. They want to tempt you into buying these things to up their sales. They aren’t fussed about your fitness goals. They understand consumer psychology and will pull you into the naughty aisles by any means necessary.
Even if you don’t need it, it will end up in your basket.
My golden rule has always been to consume, nutrient dense, wholesome food 80% of the time.
I find that makes the nutritional side of fitness not so restrictive that you can’t sustain it, but there’s enough structure to see progress and hit your goals.
Does this percentage reflect what you see when you look down into your basket?
If the answer is no then I’d probably guess you didn’t spend 80% of your time in the vegetable section either.
If you want your basket to be filled with more nutrients, you need to spend more time browsing those sections, and limit the time you spend drooling over the bakery items.
My first piece of advice would be to take a different route through the shop.
Go against your natural instinct.
If you try to stick to the outside of the store for most of your time in there, you’ll find yourself facing much more wholesome foods.
Fresh fruit and veg, meats, fish, eggs, dairy- they all live around the outside.
For some people you’ll be able to look around at what’s on offer and imagine heathy and tasty meals as you go along.
For others, you’ll need a list made in advance to make sure you have all the ingredients for a wholesome week of food.
Then, once you’ve finished packing as many nutrient-dense items into your basket, you should stop and evaluate the situation before you head for the treats.
Firstly, see how much have you spent- if you’re already close to your budget that might deter you from going crazy on chocolate...
Another thing to consider is how many days is this going to last, and try not to overshoot that with goodies. 3 days worth of meals to 7 days of naughty snacks is likely to end in you eating all of it in the same time frame.
Sugary sweets might not be your ‘other 20%’ though. It might be fizzy drinks or alcohol.
Yep, if a big old bottle of wine is in your weekly shop, there isn’t much room for a packet of doughnuts if your trying to follow the ‘80-20’ optimum ratio, so prioritise! It’s all personal choice.
The frozen section is a bit of a danger zone.
It’s half naughty and half nice, so don’t fall into the trap of “I’ll pop and grab some frozen veg” and end up spending the next half an hour filling your trolly with ice cream.
Lastly, when you’re done, you’re done.
Head to the checkout. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200. Do not just “peep down the crisp aisle to see what’s on offer.”
Go and pay.
So there are some pretty easy procedures to follow to conquer your next trip to the supermarket, and keeping you heading towards your goals.