Strate­gies for out­ma­noeu­vring the dan­gers in gro­cery store

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Matthew Kadey

Su­per­mar­ket hacks

For most cy­clists, the su­per­mar­ket is ground zero for healthy eat­ing. Yet, you need to choose wisely or you could come home with a trunk full of edi­ble haz­ards that can quickly tor­pedo your diet. Stores also em­ploy all sorts of sneaky tac­tics to get you to pop­u­late your shop­ping cart with un­healthy foods you sim­ply don’t need and, in turn, to drain your cash. (Go ahead. Search “su­per­mar­ket end caps” on­line.) It’s a good idea ar­rive pre­pared. Arm your­self with this shop­ping sur­vival guide. It can be dan­ger­ous to be asleep at the cart. A re­port in the jour­nal Obe­sity found that sub­jects pro­vided with a fixed bud­get were more likely to pur­chase higher calo­rie foods from a mock su­per­mar­ket when shop­ping in a sleep­de­prived state com­pared with the food choices they made fol­low­ing a night of rest­ful sleep. One pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion is that in­ad­e­quate shut-eye fires up a part of your brain that is sus­cep­ti­ble to food re­wards and makes the clamshell of muffins seem more al­lur­ing. Try tak­ing a power nap be­fore food shop­ping if you’re ex­hausted.

Take Cash

A study pub­lished in Jour­nal of con­sumer re­search found that shop­pers are more prone to mak­ing im­pulse pur­chases of less-nu­tri­tious, easy-to-grab foods, such as the candy bars, at check­out lanes, when they pay us­ing plas­tic than when they are forced to hand over hard cur­rency. You’re less likely to think twice about drop­ping that bag of potato chips into your cart if you don’t have to suf­fer wal­let pain by part­ing with a set amount of cash you have on hand.

Scale Down

It’s not an op­ti­cal il­lu­sion: shop­ping carts have got­ten more vo­lu­mi­nous. Re­search shows that larger carts can equal larger prof­its for store own­ers. Peo­ple typ­i­cally spend more if they push a larger “fill me” cart. If you want to keep your food bud­get in check and Bud­dha belly at bay, grab one of the smaller carts if they are avail­able so you’re less likely to come home with a pil­low-size bag of chips.

Fuel Up

Treat a trip to the su­per­mar­ket like you would a big ride – add some gas to your tank be­fore­hand. In a Cor­nell Univer­sity study, re­searchers dis­cov­ered that peo­ple who crunched their way through an ap­ple be­fore shop­ping bought 28 per cent more fruits and veg­eta­bles than those who ate a cookie, and 25 per cent more than those who ate noth­ing. The study’s au­thors sur­mise that nosh­ing on a healthy snack, such as fruit or yo­gurt be­fore shop­ping, can put you in a health­ier mind­set and, in turn, steer you to­ward mak­ing bet­ter food choices. Gro­cery shop­ping with­out a growl­ing belly also re­duces the chances of suc­cumb­ing to un­healthy im­pulse buys, es­pe­cially when up against the en­tic­ing smells waft­ing from the bak­ery de­part­ment.

Don’t Fall for Health Ha­los

Savvy food mar­keters know that we are suck­ers for clever brand­ing. Re­search shows that shop­pers view snack foods like cook­ies la­belled “or­ganic” as hav­ing health­ier at­tributes, such as be­ing lower in calo­ries and higher in fi­bre than iden­ti­cal items with­out the or­ganic la­bel. Items like yo­gurt and candy bars pack­aged in green, a hue we as­so­ciate with power foods such as kale and spinach, rather than white or red also elicit greater per­ceived health­ful­ness among con­sumers. In a Penn­syl­va­nia State Univer­sity in­ves­ti­ga­tion, sub­jects con­sumed more of a trail mix when its la­bel con­tained the word “fit­ness” as well as a pair of run­ning shoes ver­sus a trail mix where these items were ab­sent from the la­bel. A study in the jour­nal Food qual­ity and pref­er­ence dis­cov­ered that an ac­tion shot on a pack­age, such as juice be­ing poured into a glass, makes us think the prod­uct is fresher com­pared to a still-life photo. In­stead of be­ing swayed by front-of-pack­age im­agery and claims like “all-nat­u­ral” or “gluten­free,” read what mat­ters most: the nu­tri­tion-facts panel and in­gre­di­ent list to de­ter­mine if an item be­longs in your cart.

Don’t Wing It

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by sci­en­tists in Aus­tralia found that peo­ple who fre­quently use a writ­ten list of foods to dic­tate their pur­chases at the gro­cery store were less likely to be over­weight than those who shopped with­out a game plan. Why? Not tak­ing the time to menu plan means you’ll be prone to shop­ping on im­pulse, which is a recipe for be­ing more tempted by the two-for-one deal on frozen pizza. Try or­ga­niz­ing your list by aisle so you don’t waste time back­track­ing and re­turn­ing to aisles where too many tempt­ing food haz­ards await. The more you walk, the more you buy.

Think Salad First

The wis­est shop­pers find fresh­ness at the edges and dan­gers in the mid­dle. You want to hit up the pro­duce sec­tion im­me­di­ately af­ter pick­ing up your cart when you still have plenty of en­ergy and are less likely to feel rushed to get out of the store. This sim­ple task will en­cour­age you to pur­chase a big­ger bounty of fruits and veg­gies that con­tain many of the nu­tri­ents an ac­tive body re­quires most.

Say ‘No Thanks’

Those one-bite free sam­ples may seem in­nocu­ous, but they may have the power to blow up your diet. Re­searchers from Ari­zona State Univer­sity found that nib­bling on sam­ples when gro­cery shop­ping makes it more likely you’ll ac­tu­ally buy the full-size item, as well as other nu­tri­tion­ally sus­pect foods, even if they are stuff you nor­mally wouldn’t con­sider to be wise choices. So un­less the sam­ple lady is of­fer­ing up ap­ple slices (yeah right!) steer clear.

“Peo­ple who crunched their way through an ap­ple be­fore shop­ping bought 28 per cent more fruits and veg­eta­bles than those who ate a cookie.”

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