How can I become more healthy when the shops don’t want me to?

I’m eating healthy food only from now on!

A sentence most of us have either said or heard at some point in our lives.

Have you ever noticed though, that as soon as you’re in the shop the resolve to stay healthy quickly disappears?

Well there may be a reason for that. Many shops often fill the air with tempting smells of freshly baked goods; they have offers of palatable food at eye level, as well as other tricks that mean you forget your personal goal of eating healthily or losing weight.

However, despite these tricks designed to make us buy fatty, high calorie foods, all is not lost.

A recent study (Saarela, 2013) found that reminding people about their weight management goals had a positive impact on their shopping behaviour. The participants of this study were twice as likely to look more closely at both the food label and the nutritional contents of a product, and thereby make their selection more appropriately, if they had been reminded about their personal goals. This study also goes on to suggest that marketing communications should be developed to promote the consumers awareness of healthy food in supermarkets.

Does this mean that we have to wait for the supermarkets to take action before we can take action ourselves?

There are some simple techniques that you can use to help reinforce your own personal goals, whether that’s for weight loss or living a generally healthier lifestyle.

1. Ask yourself why. If you have a very clear understanding of the reasons behind your goal, you will find yourself more motivated to achieve it.
2. Make your goal realistic. If you can’t reasonably achieve it, then what’s the point?
3. Having reminders around you can help to keep you r goal in mind both consciously and subconsciously. These may be visual reminders of photos, objects or perhaps an alarm set on your phone.
4. It is also important to be flexible in how you are going to achieve your goal. Obstacles will be easier to overcome if you allow yourself some room to manoeuvre in your approach.

Unobtrusively ‘Priming’ your mind and environment in this way has been shown to be very helpful in supporting your goal achievement (Papies and Hamstra, 2010).

A lot of our buying behaviour is based on what we are used to doing. We, as humans are creatures of habit. If you are attempting to change any aspect of your dietary behaviour, why not make it a bit easier by changing the order of your shop? If you always start at the fruit and veg section, try starting at the opposite end of the store? This way you are removing yourself from your habitual behaviour and forcing yourself to think about what you are doing.

Most importantly, never do a food shop when you’re hungry! When you are hungry and surrounded by food, you will be less likely to stick to your personal goal.

These are just some of the ways that you can help yourself to make that change a bit easier.