Many clients ask me how to grocery shop after they start the process of moving away from “dieting” and into intuitive eating. Since they are now trying to rely on body signals instead of their head, it can be hard to know what to get at the grocery store. A shopping trip can sometimes feel like a big binge or really overwhelming to clients. Good news is that intuitive grocery shopping can happen! Just like with intuitive eating, it’s okay to have a flexible plan and alter depending on what happens in your life.
Here are my top 7 tips for “starting over at the grocery store”:
1. Plan a few meals for the week- this is not dieting!! Planning meals just means have a loose plan, that is flexible, for the week. I tell clients that you don’t even need to know what you’re eating on what day if you want to make a last minute decision. Your meal plan could range from just 1-2 or even as high as 4-5 meals per week. Look at your schedule and see what you have going on. My biggest piece of advice is to never plan 7 meals/week- things are sure to get in the way and I bet you’ll go out to eat at least once.
2. Make a list. Using the above tentative “meal plan”, create a list with ingredients you need to purchase as well as staples like fruit, milk, cereal, snacks, etc. If you a budget, use coupons as a way to create meals with expensive items that may be on sale.
3. Have a white board or list somewhere in the kitchen so family members can put “requests” on the grocery shopping list. This will save time and energy asking everyone what they want.
4. Grocery shop with a full stomach, meaning after a meal or snack. You are much more likely to make impulse purchases when you are hungry! I once spent over $100 going into Whole Foods “to get a few things” but I was starving so picked up lunch, extra snacks, food items that looked good and “I just had to have them”! You are also more likely to listen to your body when you are nourished and this will help your budget.
5. Know the layout of the store and what works for you. The perimeter of the store is where nutritious food is located and will give you lasting energy for the day and nutrients for your health. With this in mind, don’t forget about “the middle” of the store! This is where a lot of the “fun foods” are located, as well as pantry staples that you will need.
6. Use the frozen food section if you don’t get the opportunity to shop often. Getting frozen vegetables or frozen meals can be a quick easy way to add nutrition in a fast, realistic way. Best of all, they don’t go bad.
7. Know that it’s okay to get a few impulse purchases!! You may see something that looks really good or something on sale that you just need to buy. That’s listening to your body in a way that works for you.
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”