Cartin' Disaster at the Supermarket

By , John “Mr. Bad Food” McGran
I've been writing about weight loss since 2000. It's 2011. I'm older, but I wish I were a whole lot wiser.
I don't know how many times over the past 11 years that I've gone food shopping while hungry. I do know it's a stupid idea... but I do it anyway. Like just last week, for example.
The cupboards at home were fairly bare--that happens a lot with a teen son and his 11-year-old sister. So I collected up the kids and headed to the nearest supermarket to restock the homestead.
I made two mistakes.
  1. I did it without my wife
  2. I did it before I ate lunch.
Two hours and $200 later, I drove home with more junk in my trunk than Kim Kardashian. (Sorry, couldn't resist that one.)
Don't get me wrong. I have been known to shop wisely. Just not when I am hungry or accompanied by my carb-craving daughter and her brother, who takes advantage of dad's inability to just say no.
So we started out OK with the basic food staples--whole wheat bread, fat-free milk, fresh fruits and veggies. But then we began journeying down the aisles of no return--the snack section, soda spot, and that mile-long stretch of coolers that houses the frozen pizzas and overly processed and ready-to-heat-and-eat foods. And, of course, we didn't forget the ice cream freezer.
By the time I made my way to the check-out line, my cart runneth over with one fatty, high-cal food after another. I could have avoided much of the dietary damage--and the nasty stares I got from my wife when she returned home from work to find our pantry stocked floor-to-ceiling with cookies, crackers, chips and other assorted “treats.”
From experience, I know you don't go shopping without first drawing up a list. Rule 2: You stick to that list!
It also helps to steer clear of the aisles that house the worst foods. I could have easily maneuvered the outer fringes of the food area--the place that traditionally displays the fruits, veggies, dairy products and breads. (Psst, John, that's one of the habits of healthy eaters: Shop the perimeter!)
The deeper you venture inside the inner food area, the deeper in trouble you tend to get.   
Heck, I should have spent a little time shopping for tips here at SparkPeople before I set out for the store. It took me seconds to find great tips for smart supermarket shopping (found on the SparkPeople Message Boards!).
Five good tips to store away for next time:
  1. Shop the perimeter (...just like I said above)
  1. Don't shop when you're hungry ( you tell me!)
  1. Don't get distracted (...the layout at my local supermarket is great at distraction!)
  1. Avoid the crowd (...God, I hate crowds and I do shop more chaotically when I am in one!)
  1. Make a list and stick to it (...if at list you don't succeed, you're doomed!!!)
(While you're at it, learn 7 secrets to outsmart your supermarket!)
I admit it. I am the master of impulse buying. My wife and I have a saying that suits us to a T: She shops, I buy. What that means is she'll actually walk away from a product until she knows it is a good buy. As for me, if I see it--and I want it--I buy it!
And when I am hungry, I want too much and buy way too much.
Please do as Mr. Bad Food says and not as I do. I really do know better. I simply forget everything I know when confronted by shelves of yummy-looking (but not necessarily yummy-tasting) foods.
Until we eat again, have a great day--and a better shopping experience!
Are you a smart shopper? Which of these tips is the hardest for you to remember?
John McGran, aka "Mr. Bad Food," blogs twice a month for