At least that’s what recent findings published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior suggest. To come to this conclusion, researchers surveyed more than 1,300 overweight and obese residents in two low-income Pittsburgh communities. They found that shoppers who regularly made grocery lists also purchased healthier foods and had a BMI one point lower than those who didn’t put pen to paper before heading to the store. While researchers are certain there’s a link between shopping lists and body weight, they aren’t quite sure why. Researchers think it could be that shopping lists keep us organized, which in turn helps us fend off diet-derailing impulse buys (hello, snack aisle), or that health-minded people simply pay more attention to meal and grocery planning.
Either way, the message is clear: Before heading to the store to stock up, spend a few minutes taking an inventory of your kitchen and then write a list. Be sure to organize it by category so you’re not zigzagging all over the place; that ups the odds you’ll walk by—and purchase—tempting treats that could derail your weight loss success. If you’re more into digital note taking, download a free grocery app like AnyList; it automatically sorts your items by department, helping you save both time and calories when you hit the store.