Poll: Do You Judge Other People's Grocery Carts?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  152 comments   :  25,914 Views

When you grocery shop, do you ever notice what other people buy? I find that sometimes it's inevitable when standing in the checkout line—especially a really long one. It can be a fun way to entertain yourself while you wait for your turn, after all.

Recently, I stumbled across a great SparkPeople blog post on this very topic that led me to wonder: Do you judge what is in other people's grocery carts?

I'm about 10 years into my health journey. In the beginning, when I thought I was being healthy, I later learned I was being obsessive about health food—probably on the verge of orthorexia (a newer eating disorder characterized by an obsession with healthy food). I would ONLY eat food that I deemed "healthy" and would never allow myself to indulge in something on my forbidden list. And I hate to admit this now, but I really did think I was better than other people because I had more "willpower" about my diet and exercise plan than they did. I could eat "perfectly," which meant everyone else could—and should. Back then, when I would shop for groceries, I took my healthier-than-thou attitude with me. Not only would I look at what other people bought, but I would judge them for it and feel superior about what I was buying in comparison. Their carts filled with junky processed foods and soda and little to no fresh fruits or vegetables really disgusted me. (Note: I'm not saying that every person who judges another's food choices has a food/eating problem themselves. That was just my experience.)

As I've evolved on my healthy journey, my attitude about food and exercise has, too. I'm so much more relaxed about my diet these days. While I do prefer eating healthy foods as often as possible, I won't avoid any particular food or ingredient. Even if I don't think it's good for me, I know it won't kill me to have some of it on occasion. I've lightened up and stopped expecting myself to eat or exercise perfectly, and along with that, my attitude about other people's habits has changed, too. These days, I still notice what people buy when I'm standing in line at the store, but I don't judge them for it. You never know what is really behind a person's choices or purchases on a single day, and even so, it's none of my business. I still find it interesting to look on occasion, but these days, I'm more focused on my own choices than what other people are doing.

How about you? Do you ever judge people based on their grocery store purchases? Take the poll below (then comment on this post if you have more to share).

Be honest: Do you judge other people's grocery carts?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
NEXT ENTRY >   50 Mistakes That Hinder Your Happiness


    Do I "judge" them? No. I don't believe in "judgment" as such (all that biblical mumbo jumbo!)

    But I do NOTICE things!
    -The person with all the processed foods and not a fruit or a vegetable in sight...but they have the giant package of laxative powder!

    -The mother with the half dozen kids all bouncing off the walls...and her cart is full of junk food, processed/extruded products full of artificial colors.

    -The older couple with frozen meals (sodium bombs) right along side the bag from the pharmacy...the one containing their high blood pressure medications!

    -The fit looking guy with his protein powder,fruits (for smoothies with the protein powder?) the lean ground beef, and egg whites!

    -My own cart with things like plain yogurt, einkorn berries, tofu and a few other items I can't get from individual vendors in my area!
    Because I'm fortunate in being able to get my eggs, meat and vegetables from local farms.
    What would others draw by way of conclusion from looking at my cart?

    - 12/29/2016   12:09:45 PM
    No. As others have stated, you don't have all of the details to judge. It doesn't make you a better person if you are further along on being healthy than someone either. It's none of my business what others put in their cart or their bodies - 6/9/2016   5:51:33 PM
    I'm usually too engrossed in trying to get what I need to bother with what others put in their carts. I have to focus my energy on finding the best produce at the store because I'm really picky about the fruit and veggies I buy. If the guy 2 people in front of me in line has a cart full of junk food, that's his deal. He might be buying for a party; I have no way of knowing this, so I put on my "grocery store blinders" and pay attention to what's going into my cart and not everyone else's. - 9/29/2014   3:41:46 PM
  • 149
    oh yeah i have even when i was 325lbs,even though i was 325 i always eat sort of healthy, not lots of processed food but i ate a lot but i use to say damn look at those fat people then the complaint they fat,cart full of cheapest bread in walmart,candies etc etc,I still look i mean is so hard not to see how much crap people eat being 100 overweight,its crazy i mean if the person is fit you know it can be for a party or get together but when you see a family of humpty dumpties with a cart so full junk you will automatically know thats theyre everyday in and everyday out eating habits. - 1/22/2013   8:23:03 AM
    Yes, I have to admit I do, however, not really in a judging way so much as observational? I don't spend very much time in typical grocery stores these days, but when I do find myself waiting in line I will observe what goes on the belt ahead of me (and feel very sad when I see so many processed foods, regardless of the weight of the consumer). Health and diet (and most importantly, the state of the food policies in our country that allow unlabeled use of GMOs etc and are influenced more by powerful corporate interests than the health of our populace) are of strong interest and concern, so I find myself checking out the foods people buy kinda in an effort to evaluate whether recent and ever-increasing education (online, documentaries, etc.) is helping people choose better. Unfortunately, the foods there are, more often than not, less than health-promoting. Sigh.... we are bound to get there though, right?! - 8/15/2012   8:02:38 PM
  • 147
    I found this article and some of the comments funny. I have never judged someone from their cart because I don't really look in other peoples carts. I do feel like I'm being judged sometimes by the cashier. There are times that I buy just sweets because I am making dessert for a get together. You never know when somebody is buying certain things for a party.

    My basket is always a mix. We buy chicken breasts and whole grain rice and whole wheat bread but we also buy a bunch of mountain dew (they can't live without out) and frozen dinners because I don't always feel like cooking, I want something quick, and I go to school full time. On top of that, cost is a major factor for us. We could go without soda, but the men here would die if they didn't have mountain dew. - 5/11/2012   12:15:01 PM
  • 146
    I must admit at times I do. - 5/10/2012   4:12:03 PM
  • 145
    I guess I judge once in a while, but I don't always have all healthy items, either. And sometimes I go to three different stores to get everything I need. I worry more about being judged by others with what is in my cart. - 1/10/2012   9:40:05 PM
  • 144
    I look to see what other people have in their cart, especially when in a long line. I just think it's sad when a mother is there with here kids and every item in the cart is highly processed - chicken nuggets, chips, breads, sodas, juice drinks, junk food. I almost want to educate them, but it's not my business.

    On the flipside, sometimes I wonder if people are judging me when I have a few "treat" items in my cart. - 1/10/2012   5:19:30 PM
  • BAMBI31311
    When I am standing in line, waiting, yes I always take a quick look and thoughts do go through my mind like "OMG, think of the money that person could save if they weren't buying all that rubbish". Reality however grounds me, and I think that I am more the odd person out for purchasing fresh fruits, veggies and unprocessed meats rather than the other way about. - 1/10/2012   6:38:10 AM
  • 142
    I guess I sort of 'judge' the contents of my own cart~esp on the conveyer belt~ full of fresh veggies & wheat whatevers...no junk food. I look around & see if anyone is seeing how healthy my stash is...LOL.
    & I just feel good about myself.
    But then I go shopping with my daughter & my cart looks like any junk food junkie's. So, Feet Of Clay, over here! - 7/29/2011   9:01:01 AM
  • 141
    I sometimes "observe" what individuals in front of me are placing on the counter to purchase, but I don't think I "judge" their choices. It is not always easy to purchase whole foods, non-processed foods, fruits and vegetables etc as there is always a cost to factor in -- I live on a strict budget and must carefully evaluate what is most economical for me to purchase. That being said, I spend more time looking at the cash register receipt to make sure everything was totaled correctly and no mistakes inadvertently made by the cashier. Stretching those dollars is even more a necessity at the end of the month when funds are running short. I would like to think I am considerate of others and, not knowing their circumstances, allow them to make their own decisions on how to spend their food dollars. It would be a perfect world if we could all manage to eat healthy with no consumption of "forbidden" foods that may or may not be affecting them. Obesity and being overweight do not necessarily correlate to the intake of food. Many other circumstances need to be factored in and unless all aspects are truly known, it would be unfortunate to "judge" others. I'm just grateful that with proper knowledge and careful budgeting, I make the best and most appropriate decisions that affect myself alone. - 7/28/2011   5:42:12 PM
    Yep. I'm admittedly the type who gets miffed by the obese woman with the obese kids in tow paying for a cart chock full of junk food with Food Stamps. Otherwise, I look at people's carts out of pure curiosity because there is little else to do in the checkout line.

    I couldn't care less if other people are looking at my grocery cart. But I do dislike people looking at the contents of my basket of personal items at the drug store. - 7/27/2011   12:15:08 PM
  • 139
    Guilty, but not always. My biggest pitfall, as others have mentioned, is feeling a bit disgusted when I see someone with a cart full of nothing but junk food and soda and then they whip out their welfare card to pay for it. I have actually gotten angry when I see the same people buying beer and cigarettes for cash separately. - 7/27/2011   10:51:59 AM
  • 138
    I agree - 6/22/2011   12:15:36 AM
  • 137
    I do look at other people's carts out of curiosity. Sometimes I get upset when seeing lot's of "luxury" foods paid for with food stamps. Sometimes I just laugh at what looks like junk food junkies but I laugh hardest at myself on those days when my cart looks like a junk food junkie's when they have good sales on cookies or something. ( I live with a husband and son who don't have weight problems). Also I know that some times I buy lean chicken and beef in bulk on sale and fresh veggies at a different store so we really can't judge because we don't know how it all works out over time.! - 5/28/2011   5:37:28 PM
    I never noticed other carts until I moved to where I live now. We live in a relatively poor area of Kentucky and obesity is out of control. My husband and I love to cook and we hardly ever eat out at a restaurant. One of my first trips to a grocery store was strange for me - the cashier had trouble figuring out what some of the vegetables that we were buying were. She had no clue what Bok Choi, Kale, Jicama and some others were in order to enter the code into the scanner. She asked what several items were, what they tasted like and finally said, "You must cook a lot!" A stranger in this state, all I thought was, "Don't you?" From that day on I can't help but notice the carts full of frozen boxed dinners, boxes of sweets and cakes, soda and junk. It breaks my heart that home cooked meals seem to be going the way of the past. - 5/12/2011   2:54:02 PM
  • 135
    My cart is definitely a mix but when I see someone with only a case of beer and chips in their cart, I do... - 5/12/2011   9:04:05 AM
    As as a parent, I do tend to be a bit judgy when I see "doughy" kids shopping with mom and the cart is filled with Frosted Flakes and other sugary foods. I know I can't say anything, but I am sad for the kids who already have one foot in the plus size clothing store. - 5/11/2011   5:03:29 PM
  • 133
    i do not judge usually only because I am guilty of putting things in my cart that should not be there...but there are times that I see a cart full of snacks and sodas and I see that the person is overweight and they have kids..which tells me that they do not feed their kids heatlhy food...I also know that eating healthy can be expensive and when you have children you try and save money and buy what you can afford. I Hope to teach my kids the right ways to eat and also continue to do the same for myself..i do know that ever since I've changed my eating habits that there are things that have been in my pantry in the past that will never set foot back in there again..and it's been that way for the past two years. now if i can only get this exercise thing down pat...argH!!!! - 5/11/2011   2:42:10 PM
  • 132
    Ok, so yesterday I was the one being judged. I am sure of it!!
    I am new to eating healthier. I have always just eaten whatever. I now find myself with 4 or 5 items in my hands comparing the difference in fat content, proteins, nutrients, etc. etc..
    I feel like everyone is looking at me like "What a weirdo!". It didn't bother me.
    I do find it almost impossible to find healthier foods on sale. I grabbed the multi-grain cereal but dont get me wrong, I was eyeing up the fruity pebbles. - 5/11/2011   11:53:25 AM
  • 131
    Yes, especially since I have been watching what type of foods I eat. Years ago (when I was forming all my bad habits) I never paid any attention. - 5/11/2011   8:36:35 AM
    I do sometimes, but usually while waiting in line to check out. Now that I'm more aware of what's in some foods, I can't help it. Then I have to double-check my own cart, lol! - 5/11/2011   7:28:48 AM
  • 129
    Just hate to see sugar coated cereals and white bread in anybody's cart. - 5/10/2011   11:28:26 PM
    Fraid I do! - 5/10/2011   10:15:53 PM
  • KOKAJ52
    I don't judge other people's carts. I am too busy protecting my cart from foods that jump off the shelves when I shop with my husband. He can eat desserts and have a rum and coke and only ever varies by 5 pounds. not fair. Loving sparkpeople and have been succesful enough to balance my blood levels. That is an accomplishment. - 5/10/2011   8:45:57 PM
  • 126
    No, I can honestly say that I have never judged people by what is in their cart but since I have been trying to eat better I have noticed that I feel pride from what's in my cart these days. It sounds weird to say it but I actually feel less shame now when I go to the check out line and I have fresh produce in my cart rather than frozen food or the "just add meat" types of dinners in a box. - 5/10/2011   4:09:21 PM
    yes SOO, I hide all my snacks under my lettuce and fruit, so no one can see and STILL judge a fat person's meat, cheese and bread items!!! - 5/10/2011   10:39:38 AM
  • 124
    I don't call it judging I would never do that but I do look at what is there cart. My cart is not perfect all the time. My middle son always have me go and pick up snack mix his favorite snack. I always say fat girl getting chips..folks to judge what is your cart and what is in your hand when checking out. I remember a man telling me how unhealthy a food was in my cart.....needless to say I was not appreciative. LOL Bad moment!!! - 5/10/2011   10:26:40 AM
  • 123
    I admit I do judge other people's carts. We have a real problem with obesity, and seeing carts with meats, processed foods, sodas, but no fresh produce makes me sad. However, it goes both ways. People have made judgments about my cart, too. One person said, "You have no packaged or processed foods. What's wrong with you?" Another person said, "Look at all your fresh veggies and fruit." She stopped and reflected a moment, then said, "I should shop more like you." - 5/10/2011   9:38:08 AM
    This article just made me realize that I actually DO look into others people grocery cart and judge them. Why? Maybe it is the wish to be in control and be better than others. For once to succeed and SHOW it openly to others: Look how good I am. Thanks very much for sharing - 5/10/2011   4:43:51 AM
    I don't know if I am really judging but I do occasionally look at a cart in the line and kind of wonder why someone would buy a lot of sodas, a head of lettuce, and some bags of chips along with a few other things - I guess maybe they are buying stuff on sale or for a special event or purpose sometimes. I do that - sometimes I have to fill my cart with a lot of large cans of beans, pastas, cake mixes, etc. so I can cook food to share for a dinner or cookout for people who can eat an entire buffet in 5 min. flat - MARINES! So I look a little strange, I'm sure the baggers wonder if I eat all of that myself!!! - 5/10/2011   4:35:59 AM
    When I see an entire cart full of name-brand food that isn't on sale, I think, "Wow, they must be rich." I don't know if that's judging or observation, but I've been judged and try not to judge others. - 5/9/2011   8:21:29 PM
  • 119
    If they are just getting a couple of things, I assume that they already bought other things during the week.

    But if I see a full cart of food and no produce, I wonder about it. I wonder if they eat fruits and vegetables or not. I just wonder how they get nutrition if they're not eating any produce O__o - 5/9/2011   4:53:45 PM
  • 118
    I have a look but I wonder what's made them buy that (making up stories behind their unusual choices) , I was once in the supermarket queing behind a fellow with a cart full of 2 litre bottles of pepsi... and another time just a cart full of fruit squash lol partying? some strange hobby? maybe they're buying it on special offer and selling it off in a smaller shop. I also look in peoples cart and think "mmm I love that" or "I havn't tried that yet, I wonder if its nice?" I have been known to comment if I'm in the same fridge etc and someone's looking at an item in wonder and I'll say "Thats lovely!" etc or once a woman said "we'd better look in the veggie freezer if you're gonna be vegitarian now" to one of her kids and I said they have a much much better veggie section at much better prices in the other shop (I know, I'm a star lol) I also do this for myself though, wonder what people must think, last year the day before my birthday and three before we went on our first holiday) we went to the shop for a very unusual ( but explainable) list: 66 nappies, a bottle of rum, a bottle of (diet) cola and a bottle of lime cordial (yes, Cubans, my drink of choice) but this week we had one of pretty much every type of frozen veg in the shop, 10 large bags; peas, carrots, parsnips, spinach, brussels, mixed fruit etc, cause we didn't pay for them lol and its about 2 months worth of veg. I like to think I'm not judgemental of people, critical maybe but not ever ever mean spirited, I find shopping a very tedious, dull and painful experience so I try to help it along with anything I can :) (we only just fit everything in our freezer after taking out what we where eating that night lol) - 5/9/2011   3:55:13 PM
  • 117
    I judge but mostly feel sorry for them because they probably don't even realize just how bad their choices are. - 5/9/2011   3:17:54 PM
    Only when really bored. I can be self-consious about my own... I buy the majority of my fruit and veggies at the local farm store or farmer's market and my meat at the local butcher... so MY cart can often "LOOK" pretty bad. - 5/9/2011   2:00:05 PM
  • 115
    I try really hard not to judge other people's carts, because we really don't know what is going on from a single day. I know that there have been times I've had some very strange combinations of things in my cart. How do I know that the person I see with a bunch of bags of Doritos's does that regularly? Maybe it's for someone else, or maybe they were asked to bring it for a party or something. Maybe they already have healthy foods at home. - 5/9/2011   11:19:26 AM
  • 114
    I don't judge, for the most part. I have enough in my life to worry about so I don't particularly care about other people's choices. Everyone has different circumstances and diiferent health needs, you can't judge without knowing.

    What I don't get is why people will only judge someone's cart if they're overweight or obese. Aren't healthy choices important regardless of weight? Also, realistically, many processed foods are cheaper and more convenient than the healthy stuff, so those who are poor may not be able to afford so much of the healthy "options," or the single parent or whatnot working nonstop to make ends meet may not have the luxury of putting together full-on balanced meals from scratch every night. They may be fully aware of what is healthier - with our country's obsession over weight I don't think most people, obese or thin, are that ignorant about what is healthy and what is not. They just might not always be in the financial or time position to choose it. I just feel that we shouldn't be so quick to judge others for what they buy if we truly don't know the reasons behind it. - 5/9/2011   9:31:36 AM
  • 113
    I do judge by what a person may/may not have in their cart. I will wonder how someone could let themself go to the point they have reached.
    I am on spark to try and be fit and live healthier. This may not be the choice of the person I am looking at at the grocery store. It is their choice, I try not to judge them. If I see a bigger person with a cart full of junk, I just think to myself that they are happy with who they are. - 5/9/2011   9:23:41 AM
  • 112
    I don't judge other people's carts but I do check to see what they have to see what they are making for dinner or possibly that have a food that I would like to try but I never sit and think "OMG they shouldn't be eating that". Often when walking through the store though I worry if others are judging what I have in my cart. It's mostly healthy but the Doritos and Soda in my cart are for my husband not me, yet I worry that people will look at me and say "Well she shouldnt be drinking soda or eating chips" and not realize its for my husband. This article just proved to me my paranoia is real and that people do judge! - 5/9/2011   9:19:53 AM
  • 111
    I've already commented on this, but now I catch myself doing it more and more.

    Sunday we were at WalMart and shopping for chicken and stuff for my supper at work. There was a woman there with three boys. All of them were overweight and I think what caught my attention more was the fact that they never hit the outer aisles of the store.

    I caught myself actually counting what they had in their carts. 6 (yes six) boxes of Oreos, 4 packages of Chips Ahoy, 4 cases of soda, 8 bags of chips, hot dogs, pudding, ice cream, one lonely head of lettuce. Ok, so maybe they hit the outer aisles once.

    Bad Sheila! - 5/9/2011   8:36:11 AM
  • 110
    On a sort of similar topic, I judge my own cart. I'm always really excited when I have a cart of fruits/veggies/whole grains/dairy or, as I think of it, "grownup food." - 5/9/2011   3:42:36 AM
  • 109
    I am amazed at some of the bad choices people make. I notice it is usually young people. I will admit, I've certainly had my share of bad choices myself...mostly in the past. - 5/8/2011   10:37:45 PM
    Judging is hard not to do, we've all looked at a cart and raised an eyebrow. It's important to also remember manners, be gracious and hopefully educate those willing to learn about healthier choices. - 5/8/2011   10:31:07 PM
  • 107
    I judge others, mostly when I see lots of unhealthy food, but I also admire those with mostly healthy food, whether they are slim or not. If they are slim, I think good for you, and if they are not, I think good for you for making healthy changes. I am much more conscious of who is judging my cart because I shop for my husband too who eats many unhealthy foods. - 5/8/2011   9:19:59 PM
  • 106
    I don't judge other peoples carts but I do check them out carefully. I have even explained to peoplethat I am checking to see if I forgot something, or if something looks really good, or even if I missed a deal. Once I explain, we end up chatting and even exchanging recipes and dinner ideas. - 5/8/2011   6:12:42 PM
  • 105
    I glance at others' carts (sometimes to see if they should be in the "20 or less" lane). I try not to judge anyone, but, really, 4 cartons of cigarrettes and 2 suitcases (24 packs) of beer, candy bars &/or snack cakes,and maybe, some frozen pizza, with the little kids huddling around the cart? - 5/8/2011   8:57:45 AM
  • 104
    I think its pointless to judge another person's cart because you are not in their shoes. You do not know if they are shopping for themselves, a small family, a large family, or for an organization. You do not know if that is their typical purchases or they are purchasing for a special occasion. You do not know what their budget or nutritional needs are.

    My sister is overweight and going shopping with her once while I was visiting, I overheard "comments" from people about her full fat milk and some other reasonable but not diet items because "she obviously didn't need that sort of thing." Thing is, she was not buying them for herself. She was buying them for her 4 year old son and 2 year old daughter who need those types of items, not "diet" foods. I also remember when I was in college and eating just a pack of ramen noodles a day because I was broke, she went shopping for cheap processed/packaged food that she could mail to me as a care package. I am sure she got comments for that too when she was just trying to make sure that I had nonperishable food that I could make in a dorm room. You just do not know what is the motivation behind a stranger's purchases.

    *edit* comment about the public assistance. My aunt and sister have also gotten comments about having WIC and such while driving nice cars because people think they are taking advantage. Thing is, they are both foster parents and they receive that funding as support for their kids. Just another, you may be judging something you don't know about. - 5/8/2011   8:50:18 AM
  • 103
    I can honestly say I very rarely "judge" in the sense of being critical; but occasionally I'll notice someone else's basket out of curiousity, like who is it for, are they having a special event, etc.

    HOWEVER, like Jangilynn, I am VERY conscious of what OTHERS might think of what's in MY shopping cart! - 5/8/2011   8:23:45 AM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.