If you’re trying to lose weight, then you are likely all-too-familiar with how difficult it can be. Every aspect of weight loss has its own challenges, from exercising willpower to sifting through mountains of information to stocking your kitchen with the right foods.
Fortunately, there are ways to make it a little easier to grocery shop when you are trying to lose weight. The most basic rule is to stick to the perimeter of the store, where the healthier whole foods tend to be located. Other tips, like making a plan and sticking to it, can help you stay on track with your diet.
At Ideal You, our goal is to take the guesswork out of weight loss. We offer you a structured food list, all natural supplements, and coaching from a team of weight loss experts. We can help you lose weight regardless of what is holding you back. Below, we have outlined our best tips for grocery shopping for weight loss.
Shop Around the Perimeter of the Store
One of the most fundamental weight loss grocery shopping tips is incredibly simple: shop around the outside of the store. The reason? Whole, natural foods tend to be located on the perimeter, while more processed foods are typically placed in the center of the store.
Foods that tend to spoil – like fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat products – are most often placed around the outside edges of a store, along the walls. That is because electrical outlets are located on the walls, and these foods often need to be kept cool, wet, or frozen.
While it may seem counterintuitive, you should predominantly buy foods that will go bad. Shelf-stable foods like chips and cookies may last a long time in your pantry, but they don’t have a whole lot of benefits when it comes to your health and wellbeing. Foods that can spoil, like strawberries, fresh spinach, eggs, and chicken, offer far more nutrients than processed foods and are often critical for weight loss efforts.
The research is clear: eating highly processed foods isn’t great for our bodies. In fact, eating too many processed foods is linked with obesity and chronic illness. Eating whole, minimally processed foods can help to reduce the negative effects of processed foods.
With a few exceptions, such as for olive oil, spices, and other healthy, minimally processed items, you should avoid the center part of the store. Sticking to the perimeter can keep you focused on the food that is best for your body and your diet. While there may be times that you need to grab some items from the center of the store (like a cake mix for a birthday, or even a jar of tomato sauce), your best bet is to focus as much as possible on the fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meat that are found along the outside of the store.
There is an old saying, “failure to plan is planning to fail.” This saying can be applied in any number of situations, including trying to lose weight.
When you have an empty fridge, it is all too easy to fall back on high fat takeout, fast food, or convenience foods like boxed macaroni and cheese. Keeping your fridge stocked is critical to any weight loss plan. In fact, studies show that people who plan their meals tend to have a lower body weight and a healthier diet than those who do not.
Thinking about what you will eat for the week also empowers you to cook more at home, as opposed to grabbing something on the go or ordering a pizza because you didn’t plan dinner. Eating at home, as opposed to in a restaurant, is linked to lower levels of body fat and a better quality diet. For example, a grilled hamburger with caramelized onions that you make at home will have less fat and fewer calories than almost anything you would get at a restaurant (not to mention…no tempting side order of fries!).
You can plan your meals for the week on a dry erase board, a piece of scratch paper, or even in a journal. The method doesn’t matter as much as taking the time to make a plan. Once you have an idea of what you’re going to eat, you can then put together a grocery list.
When making a meal plan and grocery list, try to base it around what you will actually cook – and eat. It can be all too easy to go into a deep dive on healthy recipes on Pinterest. But if the recipe you found requires 16 ingredients that you don’t have and 3.5 hours, start to finish, will you really make it after you get home from work?
Similarly, you may go a bit overboard in buying healthy food at the grocery store. It can be exciting to add things to your diet that will boost your well-being – like trying out the latest superfood. But unless you know that you like it, and have a plan for how you will use it, doing this can be both expensive and discouraging if you don’t end up eating it before it goes bad.
Instead, incorporate a few new foods (at most) into your diet each week. If you’re trying to eat more dark, leafy greens, consider starting with a small bunch of kale before loading up your cart with piles of greens. Similarly, if you want to try an exotic fruit, just buy one piece – and see if you like it before committing to more.
Keep a List
There are many options out there for keeping a grocery list, from apps to magnetic to-do lists to the notes app on your phone. There isn’t any one right method for grocery lists. The most important thing to do is actually make the list.
Keeping a running list of what you need can help keep you on track, and prevent list-making from becoming a chore. For example, if you eat eggs every morning (like our amazing zucchini egg wrap cups), add eggs to the list once you notice that you’re running low. If you like to snack on strawberries after dinner (something that spoils fairly quickly), keep them as a permanent fixture on your grocery list.
When you make your grocery list, try to organize it by food category or how your grocery store is laid out. This can help you shop much more efficiently, and will help to keep you focused on foods around the perimeter of the store. Try dividing your list into sections, such as:
- Pantry goods
If you want to cut back on certain types of food – like snacks – it is then easy enough to eliminate those categories on your list.
Another benefit of having a well-organized grocery list is that you are less likely to buy unhealthy foods if you aren’t wandering through the store looking for the groceries that you need. Instead, you will go directly to the departments that you want – and can bypass the aisles that have the foods that you are trying to avoid.
Stick to the Plan
After you have done the work of meal planning and making a grocery list that is based on your store’s layout, the next part is critical: you need to stick to your plan. Grocery stores are designed to get customers to spend money, and the highest markups are often on the least healthy foods. Keeping focused on your list – and not being swayed by in-store promotions or coupons – can help you stick to your weight loss plan.
One of the most common tips for better grocery shopping is to never go when you are hungry. There is a good reason for this: when you are hungry, you may grab products out of convenience or because they look appetizing, rather than buying based on what you should be eating. Try to have a healthy snack before heading out to the store to help you avoid falling into this trap.
What Should Be on My Grocery List?
When making your grocery list, the focus should be on fresh, whole foods. Instead of fruit juice, for example, buy the whole fruit. Rather than buying pasta, consider picking up zucchini to make healthier noodles (like our turkey garlic zoodle dish).
There isn’t one grocery list that is right for every person. That is why Ideal You offers a structured food list, so that you can pick and choose the foods that are best for your weight loss goals.
Your grocery list might include things like:
- Fruit: berries, apples, grapes, pineapple, bananas, limes, pears, cherries, or kiwi;
- Vegetables: broccoli, green beans, brussels sprouts, kale, tomatoes, salad mix, carrots, cucumber, or onions;
- Protein: shrimp, chicken breast, ground beef, fish, eggs, or tofu;
- Carbohydrates: quinoa, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, brown rice, whole grain bread, or beans;
- Dairy: cheese, almond milk, kefir, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or dairy milk;
- Healthy fats: olives, avocados, peanut butter, pesto, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, or tahini;
- Condiments: apple cider vinegar, salsa, spices and herbs, mustard, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, or honey;
- Beverages: tea, coffee, unsweetened seltzer, sparkling water, or unsweetened iced tea.
The most important thing is that you don’t just head to the grocery store without a game plan. Know what you plan to cook, what you need to make those meals – and where to shop once in the store.
Ready to Start Your Weight Loss Journey? We Are Here for You.
Losing weight can be incredibly difficult. One of the keys to success is having a plan – starting with the grocery store. What you put in your cart can have a major impact on the success of your weight loss plan, as it translates directly to what you eat.
The Ideal You Weight Loss Center offers a different approach to weight loss. We can remove any barriers that are holding you back from hitting your goal weight. Our goal is to change your metabolism so that your body burns fat instead of storing it. We’ll give you a structured food list full of real whole foods, all natural supplements, a weight loss journal, and support from a team of weight loss coaches.