The list of challenging weight loss strategies is endless, but there are a few relatively painless lifestyle changes you can make that have a big impact on shaping up, too. While eating at home instead of dining out is certainly an effective strategy to drop pounds, many people don’t realize it’s actually an unwise move to purchase the necessary ingredients for their home-cooked meals where they’d reasonably go to get groceries: the grocery store.

To lose weight effortlessly, never set foot inside a grocery store again. Let’s examine why, as well as a better alternative.

Three Reasons to Abandon Grocery Stores

1. Option Overload

many choices

Supermarkets have the ability to import goods from anywhere, and they have a goal of meeting the needs—and desires—of a wide range of shoppers and their diets. As such, there are endless options. Coming prepared with a list helps, but the abundance and variety of products inevitably leads you to feel like you “need” more than you came for, and to adding unplanned items to your cart. Those of us with even the best of intentions will see a favorite food, and convince ourselves we “forgot” to add it to our list, or otherwise rationalize buying it.

On a related note, let’s not forget that our willpower is a finite resource. With so many options—and, therefore, so many decisions to be made—in a typical grocery store trip, we are bound to start slipping up and giving in when our willpower begins to dwindle.

2. Your Senses Betray You

sense betray you

There is a lot of psychology behind the way supermarkets are organized and the way their products are presented. Ultimately, a grocery store is a business, and businesses aim for revenue—in other words, they need you to buy stuff. A lot of stuff. To achieve this, certain items are displayed in a visually appealing fashion (for example, at eye level, as opposed to the very top or bottom shelf). Also, delightful smells are purposefully placed around specific products. Free samples of great-tasting foods are offered right next to their location on the shelf. Your senses are manipulated in a supermarket to influence your buying decisions.

3. Availability of Junk

junk food in supermarket

Food manufactures are constantly introducing new food products to the market, and the vast majority of them are processed and loaded with unnatural ingredients. This category of groceries is ever-expanding, and it can be difficult to avoid every bit of it to stick to a list of fresh foods instead—it feels depriving. This problem is intensified by the fact that the store itself is set up in a way that encourages you to walk down these aisles of junk food, increasing the temptation to pick up these tasty-but-nutritionally-void treats.

Where to Grocery Shop Instead: Farmers Markets

The selection of processed foods at a farmers market is significantly less than at a supermarket, and even those items that aren’t entirely fresh are likely made with wholesome, natural ingredients; perhaps even sourced locally. Most products that you’ll find here are straight-from-the-farm items such as vegetables, fruits, meats, and eggs. There are far fewer options here than at a grocery store, and while there may be some level of an attempt to influence you with a beautiful display or delicious smells and tastes, it’s unlikely that any unplanned purchase you make here will be total junk.

For those living in areas without farmers markets, two other options are befriending a farmer or two and “shopping” directly at the farm, or at least making it a goal to stay within the perimeter of the grocery store—where the fresh stuff is—and avoid the middle aisles completely if at all possible.

Implementing these suggestions will help you reduce the amount of food, including junk food, you bring home, as well as focus on whole, fresh, good quality ingredients, which is the best way to lose weight.

Your turn: Do you shop at grocery stores? What about farmers markets? What other hacks can we employ to ensure healthy purchases?

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Featured photo credit: Leg of a woman standing on a bathroom scale via Shutterstock

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