Let’s consider how grocery stores are set up- not necessarily to boost your health, but to boost sales.
Anatomy of a grocery store
In America, grocery stories generally follow the same pattern: they funnel you around the store in a counterclockwise fashion, and you pass by as many products as possible before filtering through the checkout lines.
Upon entering your favorite grocery you usually catch sweet and buttery aromas from the bakery. Whether you consciously realize it or not, these sugary smells are going to work on your brain and your brain is loving it.
Next we see the bright colors of the produce section. The sight of the fruits and veggies communicate freshness and health to us, which makes us feel good. If the first thing you saw was the dishwashing soap and toilet scrubbers you people probably wouldn't feel that sense of welcomeness.
Sooner or later you get hit with some BOGO or discount items, many times these items were not on your list when you came in, but usually it’s a tasty item and we can easily rationalize putting it in the cart.
Have you ever noticed that the staple items (milk, eggs, meats, bread) are in all separate corners of the store? This is no accident. While checking these items off your list you pass by hundreds and hundreds of products that are screaming for your consideration. Some choice items are featured on aisle end caps.
Endcaps are the ends of the main isles that showcase specific products. Because of how they are framed and featured we give them special attention and they appeal to us even deeper.
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Speaking of isles, most of the foods in the interior aisles are not healthy for you. These foods are shelf stable because of processing and preservatives. However there are definitely foods in the interior aisles that are great to eat- beans, certain grains, nuts, coffee, bottles of water, old fashioned oatmeal, etc.
Add On Items
By the time we have all the items we need/want, we’ve gone through the store like a maze- the whole time seeing the bright colors and catchy phrases of effective marketing. Even in the checkout lines we get hit with add on items. These small items (a pack of gum, batteries, candy) at a relatively small price point, easily find their way onto the conveyor belt with the rest of our purchases.
Now you can see how easily it is to make decisions based on what we see and feel instead of what our bodies need.
The main idea of all this is that groceries have a plan for you when you come in, and at the expense of our health, we make buying decisions based on our senses and feelings. Being aware of this will help us make healthier choices.
Add On Items
Grocery Hacks for Health Take Aways....
Make a grocery list (even plan out your meals for the week)
Go to the grocery after eating a meal
Shop the perimeter of the grocery