At the start of the new year, my husband and I were both determined to gain control again of our weight issues. For him, he wants to be thinner, stronger and look better. For me, because of my hiatal hernia and IBS, I need to weigh a certain weight, or less, to not have constant indigestion, acid reflux or heartburn. With all the decadent foods and candy over the Christmas holiday, my weight had crept up and, with added stress, I haven’t felt good in weeks.
So we started eating salads and adding in more veggies and fruits and taking out the sugar (hard when the counter and cupboards are still full of sugary sweets, but we’re trying to still enjoy those things – in moderation). I also have tried hard to cut back on starch related items like pastas and potatoes. Cutting back on the carbs usually works wonders for me, but I end up always feeling hungry most of the time. We both started being more AWARE of what we’re eating. John and I both have a tendency to wolf down our meals. Now we are making a habit of putting our forks down mid-meal and talking more to slow ourselves down.
Today I decided to venture out to the grocery store in search of meat. We tend to not have a lot of meats on hand – chicken mostly – mainly because it is so expensive. But meat is high in protein and I need some variety other than chicken to break up the monotony.
Although John usually goes to the grocery store (Wal-Mart) on Saturdays, my friend pointed out to me that meats are sometimes discounted during the week at a smaller grocery store. They are basically trying to get rid of the meat before it expires and so it’s not there for their weekend shoppers. So I go on Thursdays occasionally to stock up the freezer. (TIP: always check the expiration date on the meat when doing this. If it’s the day you’re buying it – check it to be sure it doesn’t look bad already and then take it home and throw it in the freezer right away or cook it that day.)
Today I got a deal on a pork loin and some filled pork chops that both had $3 off coupons. I picked up some on sale chicken breasts too for a Tikka Masala I want to make. All of it, except the chops, went into the freezer for later. I’m going to make the chops tomorrow (when they expire).
BUT here’s the rub: when visiting the grocery store there are so many landmines. The donut case. The fresh made foot long subs. The ice cream aisle. It seems like all the good aisles lead to bad aisles (a trick of the grocery store trade!)
So here’s what I did.
1) I went through the produce aisle first. I picked up some brussel sprouts because they will be a hardy side dish for any meal. (Roasted with olive oil and salt – yum!)
2) I continued along the back of the store – avoiding several aisles full of sugary goodness – to the meat section (and keeping my gaze on the meat cooler – because they put little displays of goodies all along your path!)
3) After going along the whole meat section, I turned and went up the baby aisle. Unless I fell for a jar of sweet baby applesauce, I was good to go.
4) Except the baby aisle empties out into the donut section. AHH!! I quickly turned left and went down the frozen food aisle looking for a small bit of lunch.
TIP: When they say ‘don’t go to the store hungry’ – they ain’t kidding. I was starved and it took all of my willpower to not get a donut or other sweet treat. I also decided against any of the microwaveable meals due to their sodium content and went for a freshly made chicken salad wrap in the deli instead.
TIP: I use the self checkout stations. Very often you do not have to wait in line next to all the candy. In fact, many of the self checkouts don’t have candy surrounding them so it removes the entire temptation.
I left the store with what I wanted and not a single sweet item in my bags. I had accomplished my goal and felt good about being so aware of my surroundings.
In the end, we can’t avoid the grocery store, but we can make smart choices and have a plan going in. Don’t be tempted by the sweets and bad-for-you stuff. I look at it this way: I don’t want to let others tell me what to eat. The marketing folks lay out their stores in a way to entrap you to buying the crap. Don’t let them. Stick to your guns and you can do it!
What are some of your tips to healthier eating when visiting the grocery store?