Today's trip to the grocery store involves a myriad of choices and a flurry of marketing tricks (savvy marketers know it sells more, putting certain items on par, and running promotions for kids – don't let me start – don't hesitate, Use this tactic. Even smells are supposed to encourage shoppers to spend more (and usually for cheap, processed goods that don't do our waistlines at all). No wonder I come across the smell of freshly baked goods upon entering my local supermarket be welcomed.
However, if you write a weekly grocery list, you can beat the marketers at their own game and set yourself up for success with your weight loss and health goals (regardless of whether you are making life a lot easier for yourself).
I make my own lists in the Notes section on my phone and under my list I write a plan for what we have for dinner each day. In the weeks that I plan, I eat healthier and healthier. And the best weeks are when I try a new recipe or two as it introduces some new foods to me and the family and helps us stay interested and motivated. When I'm in "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" mode (ie often in summer), my disorganization often leads to my reaching for pizzas and baguettes more than usual, but luckily this point in the year my lists are back on track (and my waistline correlates).
What does research tell us?
With a weekly grocery list, not only are you much more likely to stay up to date with your weight loss plan, but you'll also save money on the bargain. As simple as it sounds, making a list before you shop is an effective way to keep track of things, and those who make lists tend to have lower BMIs. Research has shown that written shopping lists also significantly reduce average spend, and – another bonus – those with a list also tend to complete their purchases faster.
Shopping lists make decisions superfluous, which in turn can reduce impulse purchases and help shoppers to resist "bargains". If you regularly stick to a weekly grocery list, the more likely you are to buy foods that are higher in nutritional value (i.e., healthier foods that will keep you full longer than highly processed foods that have been deprived of nutritional value and leave you feeling hungry) and want more). Read more about this research here.
What does a healthy weekly shopping list look like?
You need to stock up on the following:
1. Lean proteins: lean meat, fish (including oily varieties like salmon, tuna, or mackerel), chicken, turkey, tofu, lentils (great for soups), chickpeas (or other canned beans like cannellini / red kidney), and eggs. Hummus and peanut butter are great spreads too (and both are great sources of protein).
2. Colorful vegetables: All kinds of fiber-filled vegetables, including green and red peppers, tender-stemmed broccoli, pal choi, asparagus, celery, tomatoes, cauliflower, and even frozen spinach / peas (if you run out of fresh stuff).
3. Recognize dairy products: Most Irish households consume a lot of milk, but you can include dairy-free varieties like soy or almond (stick to the amount recommended by your weight loss advisor). Greek yogurt is a great addition to the cart as it is high in protein, low in sugar, and provides a satisfying, filling snack (avoid the sugary yogurt for kids if possible. If they only eat sweetened yogurt, just put some honey in a cart Pot for school lunches). When it comes to cheese, cottage cheese is a great choice if you like it, or your favorite cheddar, parmesan, or feta cheese is fine as long as you stick to the correct serving, which is 1 ounce and looks like a domino.
4. Sugar-free flavors: Don't forget to use stock cubes, balsamic vinegar, mustard (grainy or traditional), soy sauce, and ballymaloe relish to liven up your food. And lemons have a wonderful natural flavor, so include those too!
5. High protein nuts and seeds: I'm a huge fan of chia seeds (full of omega-3s and a source of protein), flax seeds, hemp seeds (great added to smoothies to increase protein levels), and pumpkin seeds (a good source of zinc that can help boost the immune system throughout Winter over). When it comes to nuts, almonds (blanched or whole) and walnuts are always the best for weight loss, although every now and then small amounts of cashews or dry-roasted peanuts are fine.
6.Lower sugar fruits: Opt for the ones that are less likely to convert to sugar, so the berries (strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries) will do the best. Don't be too harsh with the bananas as they have a higher sugar content and only half of a banana is equivalent to a serving of fruit. However, you get a decent serving of strawberries for the same serving.
7.Low-release carbohydrates: Take the less bulky ones and try whole grain breads wherever possible, so things like wraps and whole grain pitta bread are ideal. And always opt for brown rice and whole wheat pasta over the white varieties. Weetabix and porridge are the best breakfasts for kids (low sugar AND slow-release) – try to avoid the other, higher sugar (or just buy it every now and then).
8. Lots of liquids: With all of the plastic debate right now, I'm a bit torn from my addiction to bottled water. Maybe you're trying to buy glass instead? But if the only way to get 2 gallons a day is to buy the carbonated stuff, then splash out. I know a customer who treats herself to 7 bottles of Pellegrino with lemon and mint every week (replacing an age-old habit of drinking 3 glasses of wine a night and she says she doesn't even miss it!). Also, don't forget about herbal teas – a great evening distraction when you're craving something – my favorite is roibos, but others love peppermint, chamomile, or green tea.
9. Protein Supplements: For your in-between meals, look no further than our low-sugar, low-calorie treats, including bars, beverages and soups, which you can buy online (https://shop.motivation.ie/). I would also like to add a few squares of dark chocolate as a reward (ideally over 70 or 80%). And a jar of olives comes in handy when I'm feeling spicy (low in calories and a good source of healthy fats).
Try "Perimeter Shopping".
Perimeter shopping is a great way to highlight fresh food while minimizing exposure to packaged and processed items. Most supermarkets usually cover fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, and dairy products in scope.
Although grocery store aisles have many healthy options like canned and dried beans, cereals, condiments, and olive oil, most supermarkets also offer highly processed foods like candy and carbonated drinks – so be careful!
Research has shown that minimizing your time inside the grocery store can decrease exposure to these unhealthy foods and reduce the chances of you being tempted to buy them.
At least try this for a while and measure the results – take pen and paper and prepare your weekly grocery list. I bet you will be pleasantly surprised.