Beware – your grocery store has danger zones that will try to thwart your attempts at healthy eating or losing weight. Of course, we all know grocery stores are usually safe places to shop. In fact, if we are going to eat, we have to go grocery shopping – unless we are completely self-sufficient with our own milk cow, chickens, fruits trees and vegetable garden. Since that scenario fits just about no one in our country anymore, our dependency on the grocery store is vital but just as vital to our health are the food choices we make there. Most of us spend a fair amount of time shopping for food. So far in 2015, the average number of trips we as consumers make to the grocery store is 1.5 times per week.
With two-thirds of all adults in this country either overweight to obese, part of the problem is our food choices and the fact we tend to eat a lot more than what we need. If you’re trying to lose weight, get in better shape or improve your health, good for you. But shopping for food at most grocery stores can be an overwhelming experience – in 2014, the average number of items carried in a grocery store was 42,214. That’s a lot of decisions to make as we go up and down each aisle.
Speaking of aisles, some of them aka danger zones may not be particularly healthy eating or weight loss friendly. Having a strategy of avoiding these areas of the store and frequenting areas with healthier options, can help you see a difference in your weight and how you look and feel.
Here’s a list of four danger zones of a grocery store that can sabotage healthy eating and weight loss efforts:
1. Stay away from the soft drink/chips/candy/cookie aisles – You know where these are located. Avoid them like the plague. It if helps, pretend going down these aisles is equivalent to being sucked into a vortex causing you to wildly throw items you don’t need into your shopping cart.
2. Be careful rounding the ends of each aisle – This is obviously unavoidable but as you go from aisle to aisle, cast your eyes away from what’s being displayed. Grocery stores are sneaky with their marketing ploys and call this tactic “end-of-aisle” displays meant to increase impulse buying. Guess what – it works! You might as well call it “end-of-my-attempt-to-lose-weight-effort” as usually what’s being promoted is high-fat, high-calorie, sugary foods. High-tail it round the corners without looking.
3. Go at your own risk down the frozen food aisle – To be fair, there are some very healthy foods in this aisle such as frozen fruits and vegetables which you should buy. It’s some of the other frozen items offered that can make your blood run cold. Freeze before reaching for that box of frozen pizza, frozen cream puffs, puff pastry, TV dinners or any other high-fat, high-calorie frozen dessert or other frozen snack items. Give them the cold shoulder as you skate through this aisle with your head held high.
4. Proceed with caution towards the checkout counter. Yes, you have to go through this part of the store unless you want a free ride down to the police station. Approach this area with a plan - pretend like you have on blinders keeping your focus only on transferring items out of the shopping cart and onto the conveyor belt. Forget about the candy bars tempting you as a last desperate attempt for impulse buying. Don’t give in. Be strong, be firm and if you succeed, you get a green light to buy some gum or mints.
Avoiding the dangers zones of a grocery store can be tricky but it’s well the effort of leading a healthier lifestyle. The less you load your shopping cart with items found in the danger zones and replace them with healthier options, the more you can feel safe about your choices.
The next time you walk into a grocery store and you see the hazards ahead, you’ll learn to laugh in the face of danger because you will be empowered and successful at buying healthy foods that keep you looking and feeling so much better. And no one ever regrets looking the best they can.
ABOUT CHERYL MUSSATTO
Cheryl Mussatto has over 30 years of experience as a Registered Dietitian and has worked in a variety of settings that cover a wide span of nutrition experience. Currently she works as an adjunct professor for two community colleges, Allen Community College in Burlingame and Butler Community College in Council Grove, Kansas teaching two courses, Basic Nutrition and Therapeutic Nutrition. She is a consulting dietitian for the Cotton O’Neil Medical Clinic in Osage City doing individualized nutrition counseling. Cheryl also is a contributing author for osagecountyonline.com, an online newspaper and Edietitians, a global free nutritional and health magazine. Her articles for both publications pertain to nutrition topics that cover a diversity of health and nutrition interests for the general public. She is also certified as a health and wellness coach. Visit her website at www.eatwell2bewellrd.com and Facebook page: Eat Well 2 Be Well.