5 Ways to Shop Mindfully
One of the most foundational steps in a mindful eating journey is to visit the grocery store with intention. While it may seem daunting with so many choices of food products in the store, I promise that a mindful supermarket visit can be quite simple with a few steps of preparation!
1. Make a list
The best way to make a trip to the grocery store as graceful as possible, is to make a list before you head off to the store. In my pantry, I like to meal prep, so I always have an ever evolving list of my favorite recipes to make throughout the week. Depending on your personal palette and household size, I like to have 2-5 different recipes that I can choose to alternate throughout the week.
By investing just a little bit of time upfront, you make your trip to the store as seamless as possible. Making a list with intention helps you to avoid becoming overwhelmed or confused in the store by all the different options!
Also, don’t go to the store when you are hungry! In a study conducted by Aner Tal and Brian Wansink from Cornell University, the research shows that hungry “shoppers bought a higher ratio of high-calorie foods to low-calorie ones” when searching for food in the grocery store (1). Amy Yaroch, head of the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition in Omaha, Nebraska, states that “even short-term fasts can lead people to make unhealthy food choices.”
So next time you’re headed to the store, make sure you have a snack and a list ready in hand!
2. Shop in bulk
If you have a few staple pantry items, or something that your household often buys, it’s always better to buy in bulk. For example, food with long expiration dates such as nuts, oils, seeds, almond flour, and dried meat can all be purchased in bulk at your local health food store and stored in jars in your home. That way, you will always have healthy fats, proteins and snacks in your home easily on hand for your cooking and snacking pleasure. It also makes cooking a lot easier! Once you have a few staple proteins or fats as a base that you go for in your meals - this allows you to get creative and experiment with other foods within your dishes!
Not only is shopping in bulk generally cheaper, it’s also great for the environment. A large part of eating mindfully is being conscious of our environmental footprint and how we can be in better harmony with Mother Earth, our home and provider.
3. Shop organic and local
The best way to be mindful in our eating and shopping habits is by supporting our local farmers and markets. When you shop organic, you guarantee that you know exactly what you are putting onto your plate (and into your body).
In a study on organic vs. conventional supermarket produce (2), it was found that “organic crop production standards prohibit the use of synthetic chemical crop protection products” which reduces “the risk of pesticide residues being present in crop plants.” This means that in organic farming, there are no additional additives, chemicals or unwanted toxins that may be found in commercial or conventional farming.
When you shop local, you are supporting the local farmers in your area, who are working hard to grow and sustain healthy and made-with-love food for you and your community. Eating and shopping local is also another way of being mindful of our environment, as food grown locally to the land is specifically native to that region and is not imported from other areas (and also saves on import fuel and energy). Before commercial agriculture, one’s diet consisted of only the local foods that grow natively in that region. It’s important to honor our region and the land that serves us, by eating foods grown locally to our area.
Whether you shop organic or local (or both!), both of these can be achieved by visiting your local health food store or browsing the stalls of your local farmers markets. Depending on where you live, your community may also have a CSA program or organic food box delivery service, where you receive a box of organic and locally sourced produce with a healthy balance of greens and vegetables every week.
4. Eat whole foods
One of my favorite ways to shop with intention is to browse around the outside of the store. Whole foods and produce are always located around the outer sides of the store - foods like leafy greens, vegetables, berries and other whole foods that are extremely good for us.
Be sure to not spend too much time walking the middle of the store, as this is where all the packaged food lives, which are usually highly processed and contain preservatives or other toxins that are not good for our bodies.
According to MedicalNewsToday (3), it’s important to remain conscious and knowledgeable of the things you are putting into your body, by “[looking] at the ingredients label [of] a processed, packaged food,” because chances are, you may not “have a clue what some of the ingredients are.” You may also see many products that are marketed as “healthy” or “low-calorie,” but when you actually look at the ingredient list, you will find that there are “many ingredients..[that] aren’t actual food,” because “they are artificial chemicals that are added for various purposes.”
5. Follow your Intuition
And, as always, learn to follow your intuition! Even though I always go to the store prepared with a list in hand, there are times where I find myself putting things in my cart that my body just intuitively knows that I need. For example, sometimes you just need all 4 of those different types of blueberries for its extra antioxidants, or that second bunch of kale for an extra kick of vitamin C. Your body is your greatest source of wisdom, so trust that your body is intuitively leading you somewhere because it knows how to heal itself!
1: Tal A and Wansink B. Appetite for Destruction: Hunger Leads to Less Healthy Food Choices (November 15, 2012). JAMA Internal Medicine, 2013.
2: Barański M, Średnicka-Tober D, Volakakis N. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. The British Journal of Nutrition, 2014.
3: Gunnars K. Nine ways that processed foods are harming people. Medical News Today, 2017.
How do you shop mindfully?
About the author Josie Ng
Josie Ng is a certified yoga teacher, Reiki practitioner and holistic health coach in training. She helps the modern day human to become the best version of themselves — by bringing the Mind, Body, and Spirit, into happy harmony. Currently residing on the beautiful island of Hong Kong, you will often find her making friends with every stray kitty on the street, stretching at the local yoga studio, or eating her way throughout whichever country she finds herself in.
Josie writes on different health-related topics, always from the heart, with the aim to make your health journey more fun, mindful, ánd simple.