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7 Worst Things You Can Do When You're Grocery Shopping

You might not realize these little things could be causing harm to your health.

A trip to the grocery store can be stressful. Especially during times like right now, when you need to head to the supermarket with a mask firmly on and your goal is to just get in and get out as quickly as you can. While still keeping six-feet away from other customers, too. Then, you have to factor in what you're actually going to buy. Talk about overwhelming!

It soon becomes far too easy to fall into old habits that are just the worst. See, you can end up leaving the store with bags full of foods that aren't going to help you reach those weight-loss goals you've been working so hard to accomplish.

To help you best stay on course, we rounded up some of the worst things you can do while you're shopping. This way the next time you head into the store, you'll be prepared to make the best, healthiest choices and not fall back on these worst grocery shopping habits. And be sure to add any of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now to your shopping list!

You shop without a list.

Write a healthy grocery shopping list

We know—the concept of winging it is much easier. But it's always a better idea to write down exactly what you're looking to buy. One study even found that those who always shopped with a list overall had a healthier diet and lower BMI than those who did not. If you know what you're going to buy, you won't end up just mindlessly adding whatever catches your eye into your cart.

You shop when you're hungry.

asian woman grocery shopping

This isn't ideal, but not for the reason you may be thinking. One study found that those who shopped when they were hungry felt the desire to just acquire more, and that means non-food items. As you know, the grocery store is filled with other household items, and it seems like shopping on an empty stomach can make you spend more money. Not only is this bad news for your wallet, but if you end up stocking up on other items you don't really need and don't buy enough actual food or the foods you want to eat, you're going to end up calling for takeout or stopping by the drive-thru.

Moral of the story: When you're hungry, you're not thinking as clearly!

And just so you know, your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!

You're distracted.

grocery shopping

If you happen to be on your phone while you're shopping, this means you're obviously not giving your full attention to the task at hand. Not only will you end up spending more, but you might end up getting reeled in by unhealthy, processed foods. It's no secret that high-calorie junk foods often are more eye-catching and these images are distracting as one study found. You're more likely to be drawn to them if you're not focused, and that can lead to a cart full of not-so-great options.

You're not doing your research.

person examines nutrition label

In today's climate, it's not really ideal to stand around touching multiple items and closely examining all the nutrition labels. Still, you want to make sure you're not being fooled by seemingly healthy foods that are actually bad news. So what can you do? Well, you can still look up nutrition information, just do that at home before you head to the store. One study found that women who read nutrition labels were more likely to have a lower BMI than those who did not.

You're choosing the wrong frozen foods.

grocery shopping headphones

We're not saying all frozen foods are bad news—frozen fruits and veggies are great to stock up on, and they last for quite some time. It's no wonder during pandemic-living sales of frozen foods have spiked. It all depends on the type of foods you're buying, though.

Those frozen pizzas and dinners that are ready in minutes are a no-go, as they're often high in calories and loaded up with sodium and fat. And consumption of these ready-made meals has been linked to an increased risk of obesity. Big yikes.

You only buy items that are on sale.

woman shopping in supermarket

Snagging an item at a discounted rate is always a great feeling. There is no denying that! When it comes to the grocery store, you want to make sure you're not getting tricked into buying unhealthy options just because they're being offered up for a cheaper price. Research shows that junk foods are, on average, twice as likely to be on sale. And if you see those bags of chips are "buy one get one free," that makes them all the more enticing. Do your best to resist the urge to fall for these traps.

You don't plan ahead.

meal prep healthy lunch ideas and recipes

You don't want to spend too much time in the store during these times. So you're likely to just grab what you need for dinner that night, but what about the rest of the week? You don't want to make frequent trips to the store, either. Your best bet is to meal prep and strategize. Think about which foods can buy that you can incorporate into a few meals. Meal prepping does take time, but it helps you, again, have strict guidelines for what you need to buy, and those who regularly meal prep have been proven to eat a healthier diet overall.

Jennifer Maldonado
Jennifer Maldonado is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and health content. Read more about Jennifer