Surviving the supermarket when you’re on a diet

When it’s time to take the blame off the clothes dryer and accept your jeans haven’t shrunk, but rather you’ve expanded, it can be tough doing your weekly supermarket shop being surrounded by temptation, writes Ellie McInerney.

Coming face-to-face with the culprits that have caused your ‘expansion’ (I’m looking at you Caramello Koalas) is like being stuck in a maze. You can find yourself lost, confused and lured into the confectionery aisle by the haze of bright colours, unsure if it’s a mirage or if you have indeed stumbled upon a twelve foot wall of sugary heaven.

But despite the fact that the Maltesers and Mars Bars seem to be working overtime to seduce you, I’m here to tell you their seduction is just a decoy for your diet dreams and you can in fact survive a supermarket shop whilst eating clean!

There are a few things to remember when grocery shopping whilst dieting or simply eating healthily. The first thing you need to remember when entering your supermarket of choice is that you are there for one reason and one reason only – to shop healthy. You want to get in and get out as soon as possible to minimise the chances of falling down the rabbit hole (aka the biscuit aisle).

What should you do?

Have your shopping list close by and make sure it’s full of vegetables, fruits and lean meats. You want to include plenty of colours in your shopping trolley (and no, artificial colours don’t count). You can create a pretty amazing rainbow of healthiness with zucchinis, pumpkin, purple cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, eggplants and sweet potato. If possible, try and opt for organic as the chemicals which are sprayed on conventional produce don’t do your body any favours.

So far, you should have a ton of fresh stuff in your trolley. What’s really important right now is to remember that Nutella does not control you, and that TimTams are the enemy. Do not be fooled, if it’s in a packet that sounds like a small bundle of exploding fire crackers when you pick it up, it’s probably bad for you. Biscuits and lollies are in loud plastic packaging for a reason – to alert those in close proximity to you that you’re sneaky and most likely cheating on your diet. That’s why no one hears you when you peel a banana, no one needs to be saved from eating a banana. I digress.

Aisles to avoid

There are certain aisles to avoid while dieting, the middle aisles of the supermarket are home to many packaged foods you just don’t need, the breads, pastas, chips, biscuits ect. You want to be filling up your trolley and therefore your stomach, with ‘free foods’. Free foods are foods your body will thrive on that you can enjoy in unlimited quantities, basically anything green and the non-starchy vegies listed above.

I am a firm believer that some sweet indulgences are necessary, so when eating clean choose healthier alternatives like dates, maple syrup or sweeter fruits like pineapples. These all contain sugar, so don’t go living on the wild side when it comes to potion sizes but rather enjoy these healthier alternatives to confectionery, ice cream and other high calorie sweet foods.

If you need to, phone a friend whilst passing the freezer section as those deep-fried potato wedges don’t have a place in your healthy, happy trolley and there’s no shame in admitting you might need some emotional support to bypass them. You’re going to want to move quickly through the snack food section too.

Don’t shop hungry

I suggest staying away from packaged muesli bars and whatever you do, don’t make eye contact with the Tiny Teddies – they may look cute, but they’re out to sabotage your clean eating, one bite at time (if you do your grocery shopping late at night and you stay very quiet, you can even hear them plotting against the apples who have replaced them in lunchboxes).

Supermarket shopping whilst on a diet can feel like you’re in the plot of The Hunger Games – sabotage is in the air, temptation is rife and well, you’re probably hungry. If you can, try not to shop on an empty stomach, you will fill your trolley with three times more than you need and empty your wallet just as quickly. Shop smart, stay strong and whatever you do, don’t make friends with the person offering taste testers.

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