An interesting question came up today:
How do I stop myself buying random snacks and eating them during the day?
It’s a problem for many of us.
(You know the ancient rule: don’t go food shopping hungry. Yet we do it. Because who has time to eat before shopping?)
Sometimes you don’t even plan to go food shopping but you need to go there anyway – and you end up buying those strategically placed chocolate bars and eating them on the way out of the shop already…
This adds a lot to your calorie intake…
So how do you control it?
How do you deal with your “autopilot”?
Here’s a few strategies…
1. Don’t go shopping hungry
I know, old record… And it does take time and some organisation skills to make sure you eat before going to the shop for food.
But it does have a huge impact!
I tested it (involuntarily) on myself:
Last week I went food shopping to one of the HUGE Tescos (the ones that have a cafe inside). I put a few things in my basket I went for… And then I passed by the cheese twists… And the rustic cheesy breads…
They landed in my basket too…
I could have filled it with a lot more crap but I just came across the cafe entrance. I realised what the problem was: I went shopping hungry!
So I parked my cart at the entrance and went in – ordered a couple of boiled eggs and a tea.
Walking back to my cart, the cheese twists and the rustic bread did not look that irresistible anymore… I like them but I didn’t want them anymore. So back on the shelf they went!
(Had I eaten at home before I would have had even more control over what I eat but this wasn’t a bad solution either.)
This whole story made me realise… how much I think with my stomach and how it really influences my judgement even though I do justify my decisions.
Your first action for the next 7 days therefore is: make sure you are not hungry when you go shopping
2. Plan (for cheats too)
Go shopping without a clear plan in your head and a shopping list in your hand (or smartphone – or head if your memory is better than mine) – and 9 cases out of 10 you’ll end up with stuff you didn’t want in the first place, you definitely don’t need and will not help you in your journey to a leaner you… (You might also forget things you need…)
Have a clear menu plan for the week in your head. Have a shopping list handy (I found my smart speaker awesome for this – any time I realise something is running out, I just shout it out and it gets added to my list).
Also – and this is very important: have a clear plan for the random. Sounds weird I know. What I mean is: on your list have one unspecified sub-200 calorie item.
If you completely oppress your wish to buy something sweet, a savoury snack or an impulse item, you might feel unhappy and eventually you’ll just buy a ton of chocolate in one go because you had enough of the full control.
But, allow yourself to buy one sub-200 calorie snack that you did not plan for and your cravings will be kept at bay!
This is action no. 2: take your shopping list with you and include in the plan to buy something unplanned.
3. Have an option B
Every now and again you won’t be able to dodge visiting a local convenience store. Many post offices are right in there.
And these stores will always have a lot of nice things on display near the till. You just can’t escape it… It’s hard to resist that Snickers bar if it’s right in front of your nose…
What if you have an escape plan though?
“I’m not buying anything.” – and then you go out with rumbling stomach thinking about that chocolate for the rest of the day – IF you manage not to buy it…
“I’m not buying the Snickers bar – but I have an apple in my bag. I can eat it when I leave the shop.” – having an option B will help, because you are not denying yourself something (which feels awful), simply choosing another option.
Action no. 3 therefore is: have a strategy to fall back onto when temptation hits.
I hope these strategies help. Let me know if you have any that you use.
Until next time,