The Biggest Mistakes Everyone Makes at the Grocery Store from The Biggest Mistakes Everyone Makes at the Grocery Store

The Biggest Mistakes Everyone Makes at the Grocery Store

You walk in to your local supermarket only to find yourself overwhelmed – there are tons of people and so many food options to choose from. It’s important to take a step back and evaluate your nutritional needs and your budget.

Judging the nutritional value of a food by the front label

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“By law, food manufactures don’t have to display the full ‘truth’ about what’s really in a food on the front of food packaging. Food manufacturers will often use the front labeling to lure consumers with claims such as ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘low sugar’, or ‘99% fat free’ or ‘gluten free’,” Sally Joseph, Clinical Nutritionist, says. “Just because a product may say “low fat” or “99% fat free” or “gluten free” on the front, doesn’t translate to being healthy.  The nutritional panel and ingredients list on the back label may reveal that low fat or gluten free product may actually be loaded in sugar or contain artificial additives or sweeteners.”  To discover the full facts about a food product, always read the back label, she adds.

You shop the inside aisles of a grocery store

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“This is typically where you’ll find all the processed foods loaded with sugar, artificial additives – like preservatives and sweeteners, and other nasty’s often found in processed foods,” Joseph says. “If [you] shop the perimeter or outside aisles of your grocery store, you’ll generally find all the fresh whole produce, such as fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood – the foods we should primarily be sticking to.”

Shopping when you’re hungry

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“Going to the grocery store hungry is a mistake many of us make and a sure fire way to over shop and be tempted by sugary processed foods,” Joseph says. “Be sure to fill up on whole, nutritious foods that will leave you satiated before shopping, or you’ll risk craving and shopping for sugary foods by shopping when you’re hungry.”

Buying things that are extremely easy to make at home

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“Marinades and salad dressing are so easy to make in less than a minute, you should never buy them,” Lisa Moane, Clinical Nutritionist and Food Scientist, says. “Bought versions are full of thickeners, flavors and additives.” Making them at home reduces packaging waste and saves money too, she adds.

Grocery shopping without a list

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“Whenever I go grocery shopping, I always go with a list of exactly what I need and ensure I have a full meal plan to ensure [I’m] buying ingredients and foods to create complete healthy meals and snacks during the week,” Joseph says. “This way you’re less likely to resort to takeaway or eating out as much. Having a plan when you grocery shop will mean you’re also less likely to impulse buy, and buy more than you actually need.”

You shop for convenience

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“The truth is if your sole purpose when shopping is to buy foods that are going to save you time, you’re likely to end up eating a highly processed diet!  If a food can stay sitting on a supermarket shelf or in your pantry for weeks or even months at a time, then it’s likely to contain artificial preservatives and other additives like artificial colors and flavors, because they’ve been made in a factory vs a home kitchen,” Joseph says. “Healthy fresh food doesn’t have to take a long time to prepare or cook, it’s simply a case of getting to master a few simple healthy recipes, like those in my book, Love Your Gut, and soon you’ll have no reason to buy processed foods again!”

Shopping too infrequently

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“If you’re only heading to your grocery store once a fortnight, it’s more than likely you’re eating a highly processed food diet, because fresh, whole foods generally won’t last that long, unless of course it’s frozen” Joseph says. “Buying too much food too infrequently can also increase the risk of food wastage if you end up having to throw out a lot of fresh food you couldn’t get through.”  If you shop for less food, more often, you’ll save money and eat a more nutritionally balanced healthy diet, she adds.

Habitually buying the same food each week

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“Vary what you buy – try a new vegetable or cut of meat every shopping trip, and buy seasonally,” Moane says. “Seasonal foods are better nutritionally, and will be cheaper too.”

Choosing the most processed option

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Oats are a great example of this. “Buy the whole rolled oats, not the instant or quick oats. The least processed versions will be more slowly digested and won’t cause your blood sugar to fluctuate,” Moane says. “Their nutrients will be less degraded by processing too.”

You get sucked into temptation

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“Don't get sucked into temptation buys because it is on offer 3 for 2 etc. you don't need it,” Claire O'Meara, Holistic Health & Nutrition Coach, says. “Quite often these deals are made out to be amazing to get you to think you need them. You don't, save that money.”

You always shop in one place

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Mix and match your supermarkets, O'Meara says. “You don't always have to shop in one place.” You may get your meat from one place and your fish from another, she adds. “Don't be scared to shop around for the best deals.”

You don’t shop with a budget

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“Have a weekly food shopping budget that you stick to,” O'Meara says. “This also works in hand with having a list too and avoiding those tempting deals.”