Having a healthy lifestyle is all about making positive choices. Nowhere is this more important when you are deciding what food to buy. This is something that, when I am helping my clients lose weight, is the biggest key to their success.
It’s great being able to choose from a wide range of foods. But are we being manipulated to make choices that harm our health? How often have you walked into a supermarket with a list in your mind only to leave with things you never intended to buy? Sometimes you even forget what you went in there for.
Supermarkets aren’t there to help you be healthy. They are businesses and they want you to spend as much money as possible. Retailers invest a huge amount of time and money on studying buying behaviour. They have masses of data from their security camera recordings, loyalty cards and online behaviour about how people shop. They use it to manipulate your buying choices.
Take trolley size, for instance. The bigger your trolley, the more you’ll buy – maybe by as much as 40%. It’s no wonder that shopping trolleys are three times larger than when they were invented them in 1937. Some shops even restrict the availability of baskets so that you are forced to use a trolley.
Store layout is another way of enticing you. The entrance is arranged to make you feel comfortable. That’s why they put the flowers at the front. Flowers are fresh and beautiful and smell great; they make you happy to be in the store.
Then there’s how shops stack their shelves. They put expensive brands at eye level and the cheaper items on the low shelves. Stores place products aimed at children at THEIR eye level. Once your child has grabbed that chocolate bar it’s very hard for you to take it away.
You’ll find popular items in the middle of the aisles, so you’re tempted all the way along by other items on the shelves. Common foods, like milk and eggs are often at the back of the store for the same reason.
Most shops will infiltrate their fresh produce section with deals on clearance and unhealthy foods such as sugary breakfast bars. They are implying that these are healthy foods, which, of course, they aren’t. When you’re in the checkout queue they’ll tempt you with sweets and treats wanting you to make impulsive buying decisions.
Supermarkets try to stimulate as many of your senses as they can. They infuse their stores with smells of freshly baked bread and coffee. Then there’s those ladies with their little food tasting counters, pre-COVID of course. Your senses of smell and taste are powerful and evocative – the shops want you to fancy something you didn’t intend to buy.
They want to slow you down too. They might play music, create a few bottlenecks in the aisles or put one of those food tasting counters in your way. The longer you are there, the more you will spend. After about 40 minutes you will be so keen to get out of there that you will rush to fill your basket and end up buying things you didn’t plan to.
I’m not blaming the stores. It’s up to you to buy the right things. You can still make awesome choices – just take control and be as clever as the retailers.
Plan your shopping times and shop as infrequently as possible. This puts you in control. Make a well thought out list and stick to it. If you don’t have a list then rely on your core healthy foods (my defaults are bananas, apples, broccoli and spinach). Never shop when you’re hungry, otherwise those tempting smells will lead you astray.
Spend as little time as possible in the shop and use the smallest trolley or a basket. It’s best to shop alone whenever possible to avoid distractions. Don’t take your children shopping if you can possibly avoid it; they’ll slow you down and are more likely to trigger bad buying choices.
Go straight to the fresh produce section and fill your basket with good food. This will make you feel virtuous and set you up for the rest of the time in the store. Try to stay away from those areas that contain potentially poor choices.
When you do your next shop, keep an eye open for those sneaky supermarket strategies! Be aware and be prepared. Remind yourself of your health goals. Manage your choices.
If you find that you have no idea what foods to be eating, what kind of eating plan you’ll need to see success then I suggest you book in to have a chat with me today. In our call we can talk about your goals and lay out a simple strategy to improve your health and your choices.
Stay Strong and Keep Moving!