You probably know it. The plan was to buy healthy groceries - some vegetables, milk, and maybe some pasta. But somehow, you leave the supermarket with a booming shopping cart filled with items that are not as healthy as you would really like.
How does this happen?
We are being influenced every time we enter a supermarket. Certain items are placed in strategic places for us to buy more of them and groceries we really need, like milk and eggs, are often placed in the far end of the isles, for us to have to wales all the way through the isles of temptations. This is nothing new in the world of retail! But making sure you know what you are up against will empower you to avoid the lurking dangers of unhealthy food in your supermarket.
Different research from across the Western world shows that between 30-70 percent of what we buy in supermarkets are unplanned, ending spontaneously in the cart. However if you want to eat more healthy food, impulse shopping is often not to your advantage. Therefore, knowing more about the tricks that supermarkets use will make you aware which is the first step in avoiding lots of expensive and unhealthy food to end up in your fridge and in your stomach.
1. Healthy looking packaging
Just because a product is marketed and branded, as being healthy does not necessarily mean it is. It might be packed in a brown paper material and covered with the most promising healthy-sounding buzzwords. Bus as sad as is, this does not necessarily mean that it is healthy. What does words like ‘natural’ and ‘multi-grain’ really mean? No idea, because it does not necessarily mean anything. What you need to do to make sure your food is in fact healthy, is to look at the product aside from the healthy packaging and read the label make an informed decision based on your knowledge
2. Combined placing
Have you ever noticed the expensive spaghetti placed on top of the jars of tomato sauce? Or the sachet of powder sauce placed on top of the meat fridge?
The so-called ‘complementary products’ are placed in a way that will make you buy more without considering if you truly need this or if there are cheaper or healthier solutions elsewhere in the shop.
It’s not easy staying away from the samples given out in the supermarket. And once you have tried it, you most likely want to buy it. It’s an impulsive decision from tasting to buying – and that particular thing you tasted is probably not on your shopping list. So you most likely do not need it. Numbers show that supermarkets quadruple sales of the sampled item!
4. Hide and seek
The designers of supermarkets know that you most likely have to buy milk, rice and bread. Some shops place the most frequently sold items in the back of the shop. On your way there you are exposed to tempting, more expensive and unhealthy items, before reaching your target.
5. Untidy means cheap – or what?
Some shops have piles or stacks of products placed looking untidy. Placing items untidy might be to make you believe that the items are on sale. Might be, but it might also be that the saving is 0dhs – and you can find the same items at the same price at their normal location in the shop.
6. Bright coloured signs
Even the most critical consumer is sensitive to large bright coloured signs, often yellow, with large letters and numbers. The signs make us buy the items impulsively since it weakens our brains control mechanism. They make us neglect the fact that the saving is miniscule or non-existent.
7. Gigantic shopping carts
A few carrots, half a kilo of minced meat and some butter – this does not take up a lot of space in a large and spacious shopping cart. As silly as it sounds, an almost empty shopping cart instinctively makes you add more to the cart – since it seems like something is missing in it! So if you only need a few items, choose to shop in your basket rather than in a big shopping cart.
8. Waist high temptations
As consumers, we are lazy! Consumer studies have shown that we are not very willing to bend down to get our groceries. It is of course not correct to generalise, but looking round in most supermarkets there is a tendency that the items that make the most money to the shop are placed 120-180cm above the floor. Cheaper products are found closer to the floor.
9. Ruthless checkout
When you, and maybe also your kids, are waiting in the check out line you are most likely surrounded by temptation. Chocolate bars, candy, gums, and other unhealthy small items that easily tempts you and end up in your cart. The temptations at the check out are the most challenging - and hard to resist. Make sure never to enter a supermarket on an empty stomach - and being aware of the dangers will make you empowered to resist!
It's a bit of a mystery why impulse shopping is so har to resist. Here is one explanation: As for many other matters in life you, as a normal human being, are controlled by your emotions. When you base your shopping on impulse, your emotions take over and defeat your common sense. Hard one to fight, but it can be done by setting up some ground rules to resist temptations. Rules will make you reconsider your impulse shopping and give you an extra chance to avoid you ending up with unhealthy treats in your shopping basket.
One rule could be to make a list before you enter the shop - and commit to yourself to stick to that. Or make a rule that says that you can only buy one item out of impulse.
Do you have other tips on how to avoid the unhealthy impulse shopping? Let us know via our social media Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - and don't forget to hashtag #MyHealthyDXB and tag @MyHealthyDXB
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Your body rely on you to get vital nutrients from the food you eat. Your body takes care of millions of biological processes every day. Each process depends on certain components and building blocks - which you can only get from fresh, nutritious food, prepared in the right way.
Processed and industrialised prepared food does not give your body what it needs. It is not real food - it cannot give your body fuel to the millions of vital processes to function optimally. Poor quality food does not feed your body well - it only fills your stomach!