Grocery Shopping Therapy
Ah, grocery shopping, a topic that will never cease to be a part of a Dietitian’s life. Heck, most grocery stores these days have a Dietitian on staff for you to use whenever you need help with shopping or your most pressing health questions. Certainly, for those of you who have me in your phone book or on your Facebook messenger, I often act as that person, and I don’t mind one bit.
However, if you came here to hear me say “shop the perimeter” or “don’t shop while hungry” or even “make a list” let me stop you right there. Sure, I could tell you all the tips and tricks that you could easily google and find out for yourself, but I wanted to give you tips that people are not telling you to help you make the most of your shopping trips, or perhaps, as you’ll find out, non-shopping trips.
They say most women enjoy shopping and that they indulge in “retail therapy,” and when I say “they say” I have no study to support this, just a hunch. However, I enjoy food shopping and occasionally a good shoe shopping extravaganza, but let’s be honest I wear sneakers or slippers 99% of the time, so food is more important.
I used to love going into the grocery store with my mom, and hated when she’d leave us in the car (back when that was not frowned upon and I did not die…see I made it). I would follow her lead, even though I secretly wanted to go down every last aisle. I also always offered to put the groceries away, not because I was the best daughter ever, but because I just loved looking, touching, smelling and enjoying the company of food. I’ve been a food lover forever and it just morphed into a career. Grocery stores, farmers markets, you name it, if it has food, I’m down to peruse and take my time, just ask JJ.
With all that being said, I never realized how daunting or anxiety-inducing a trip to the grocery store could be for most until I became a dietitian. After working with client after client who said they dreaded making a shopping list or even going to the grocery store I started to think, huh, I guess I’m not the norm. I get excited anytime it’s grocery shopping day (okay, let’s be honest that’s a FEW times per week for me) and use it as therapy to unwind, take my mind off of anything stressing me out and educate myself on what’s out there.
Confession, I don’t stay out on the perimeter. While, yes, 95% of the food I purchase is found on the perimeter, I like to live on the edge and peruse the aisles to see what I can laugh at or what I can make faces at. I also, have a guilty pleasure of checking out other’s grocery carts, not to judge but just to see what kind of life they lead. Are they a meat-eater? Do they like to snack? What recipe could they be making with all of that? It’s a fun game.
Any way, I like to think of picking up my food for the week as a food therapy, which is even more ironic when I tell you my #4 tip about a local meal delivery company by me, called “Food Therapy”.
I want to lower the barrier for success while grocery shopping and help everyone out there love picking out their food even just a close to the way I do. If you stick around long enough, you’ll even see there is a giveaway going on over on InsideTracker.
My Top 4 Grocery Shopping Tips
Let’s be honest…you probably are just here for the tips, not the rambling….
Read the Ingredients FIRST.
That’s right, if you are looking at calories or marketing claims, you are doing it wrong. Now, of course, if you had just stayed on the perimeter this may not need to happen at all, but, even on the perimeter there are labels. Look for ingredient lists that are short, easy to read (unless the list is in a language you do no read) and with no questionable ingredients or vague wording. What does “natural flavors” mean anyway? Stop glaring at the calories and start focusing on what you are putting into your body first and foremost.
Go where you are comfortable.
There is no hard and fast rule as to where you should be shopping, and stop judging others for where they shop. If you want to go to a store because it’s close and convenient? Awesome. Want to go to a place that you know the layout best? Excellent choice. Want to go to somewhere where you know you’ll find what you want even if it’s a bit more expensive? Have at it. Prefer to go to a place where the cashier is extra friendly? Be my guest.
What I’m trying to say is, do not let others dictate where you shop (unless you shop at Fast Food chains, then please stop…) because at the end of the day, it’s your hard-earned money and your precious time and you should go where you enjoy to go and where you can pick out the best food for you. (See #4 below if you don’t like going anywhere.)
Now, this might not be the best advice if you have a crabby husband (mine doesn’t mind grocery shopping so I’m not throwing him under the bus here) or if your kids are uncontrollable in the candy aisle (not judging you, I’m sure I was that kid). For the rest of you, it might be super beneficial to go with someone. Why? Because I find that when I’m with others, it’s an enjoyable time, I end up not buying impulse buys (because you know they are watching) and I have someone to bounce ideas off of. For those of you that struggle with #2, this is probably a sure-fire way to find a place you enjoy, try it next time.
Don’t grocery shop at all.
What? You might say. Yes, I said it, stop grocery shopping all together if it stresses you out and makes for a less than healthy household/lifestyle for you and your family. There are so many options out there right now and you could easily get by without going near a grocery store except for emergencies (seriously, toilet paper disappears sometimes). There are resources like Amazon Prime Pantry, to deliver groceries to your door every week or month. Online meal prep companies like Green Chef, Hello Fresh, or Pete’s Paleo all provide you with food on a weekly basis without you having to even think of the dreaded “What’s for Dinner?” question, and some of them let you cook the meals so you can enjoy that part of it all.
Then, there are local companies, like my favorite here in Albany, Food Therapy or Kettlebell Kitchen found all throughout NYC or MyPowerSupply located on the East and West Coast. Finally, CSA shares or produce delivery services, like Field Goods, are great because they allow you to get fruits and veggies that are local and in season, win-win-win.
It is becoming even easier these days to eat healthy without having to do a lot of prep. Listen, I get it, working a full-time job with a new puppy and coaching here and there all while trying to keep up with a blog and have a life, eating healthy gets hard. Avoiding the grocery store is no longer a recipe for disaster. If anything, it may help you keep the snacks out of your house and keep your sanity when your significant other or child asks “What’s for Dinner”
Oh yes, and there is also the Farmer’s Market, we cannot forget about these precious local gems. This experience can work under all of the above AND you can bring your dog 🙂 (Bode has yet to experience the Farmers’ Market, we’ll take him in the spring.)
Have at it, and let me know which tip helped you the most!
InsideTracker’s Ultimate Grocery Grab Bag Giveaway
Good news for those of you who are still reading this post and noticed the title said (+ A Giveaway). You may (or may not) know that I work for a company called InsideTracker. We are a personalized blood analysis company specializing in customized nutrition, health optimization and schooling the world with the future of all things health, wellness and performance.
We are doing a GIVEAWAY that started last night and goes until Sunday, October 23rd. Head on over HERE, sign up and you could win the following:
- 1 InsideTracker Ultimate test ($499 value)
- A $100 Whole Foods Market Gift Card
- A 30-minute consultation with a Registered Dietitian (HINT: IT’S ME )
- A branded lululemon t-shirt (guys) or tank top (gals)
- 2 InsideTracker Grocery Tote Bags
- 1 InsideTracker Blender Bottle
- InsideTracker syringe pens & band-aids
A giveaway to help your grocery shopping, win-win!
Share Your Thoughts
Alright, now I want to hear from you!
What helps you be a savvy and confident grocery (or non-grocery) shopper?
Share in the comments.
Sassy (& Bode)
ps. I have a YOGURT post coming later this week stay tuned 🙂