Habits of Healthy Eaters: Shop the Perimeter

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You want to eat better, right? That's why I'm sharing my easy and often budget-friendly tips on how to eat healthfully. This is the first blog post in the series.

Did you know that the path you follow in the grocery store could help you eat right and avoid weight gain?

It's true.

Take a look at your shopping list:

  • Skim milk
  • Orange juice
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Spinach
  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Apples
  • Yogurt
  • Potato chips
  • Eggs
  • Chicken breasts
  • Onions
  • Brownie mix
  • Oatmeal
  • Raisins

Now think about where those items are located in your supermarket. Are they along the edges of the store, or are they deep in the labyrinthine aisles?

Chances are, the unhealthier foods on your list are in the middle aisles, which are filled with tempting processed and packaged foods. The healthy, whole foods are usually located around the perimeter of the store.

Stick to the edges of the store, and stick to your healthy eating plan.

Dairy, bread, produce and meats/seafood are usually located along the outside of the store. Load up on those healthy staples, bypass the middle aisles and you'll rarely be faced with the temptation of 16 varieties of potato chips and a dozen kinds of cake mixes.

Here are some tips to help:

  • Organize your list. When I go grocery shopping, I construct my shopping list like a road map, a tactic I learned from my brilliant bargain-shopping mother. You list all similar ingredients together to minimize your risk of forgetting an item. If you frequent the same grocery store, this tactic is even easier, as you know the layout of the store. Put all your vegetables and fruit in one column, write all the meat and seafood items in another, and group the dairy together.

  • Know the aisles, read the signs, or ask for help. How often do you push your cart up and down each aisle until you find the item you need? Instead of going up and down each aisle, look at the signs in each one. If you need frozen broccoli, don’t venture down the ice cream aisle. Head straight for the frozen vegetables aisle. If you don't know where to go, ask for help.

  • Head straight to the checkouts. Do you like to wander the aisles after you're finished shopping? The long walk to the checkout line is the last chance for temptation at the grocery store. You’ve stuck to your healthy list thus far, and you only have one final leg of your journey. Don't pass through the soda aisle "just to see if there's something new," and fight the desire to see whether chips are on sale.

    Touring only a portion of the grocery store on each visit might make you feel like you're forgetting something, but after a few trips, you'll consider those middle aisles--and all their tempting junk food--a no man's land!

    Do you avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store? Will you now? How do you resist temptations at the grocery store?