Survival Tactics for Grocery Store Temptations

Studio 5 Health and Fitness Contributor Melanie Douglass gives us a strategy to getting past those items that derail us at the store.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: I know that you know exactly what you should be buying at the store… fruits, veggies, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean meats… none of this is new information. You’ve likely also heard that you should shop on the outside aisles, never shop hungry, and always have a list before ever stepping into the store. Even though we know this, most of us still struggle with temptations at the store. If you find yourself craving foods like chips, cookies, chocolate, ice cream, or bakery items when you go to the store, try one of these simple tips to help stay strong until you can get home for a decent meal:

Never stroll every single aisle.

The first rule of controlling cravings is to stay away from the temptation. If you aren’t sure if you need something on a certain aisle, then the odds are, you probably don’t — especially if it’s one of the junk food aisles.

If you are craving ice cream… try a Creamies Reduced-fat Ice Cream Bar.

Why? Because they are usually sold in portions of ONE. Pick up one… chocolate, banana, orange… whatever. But the perk to this choice is that it’s one portion, it’s low in calories, low in fat, moderate in sugar, and a good source of calcium. Creamies are often lower in sugar than most diet ice cream bars (including fruit bars).

If you are craving chips… try eating one handful of salted nuts.

Nuts are a good source of protein, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated fats. They waaaaay more satiating than chips, so you can eat one handful and be done, it takes handful after handful of chips before we start to feel satisfied.

If you are craving one of those delicious bakery items… try Fig Newtons or Hostess 100-Calorie Cupcakes.
Both of these options hover around a sweet 100 calories and 2 – 3 grams of fat, whereas most bakery items easily pack three times the calories and five times the fat.

If you are craving cookies… try 3/4 cup bran flakes with 1/2 cup reduced-fat chocolate milk.

There are several options here — of course, you can try any 100-calorie pack of cookies, chocolate graham crackers, etc. But those are also foods in which it’s hard to stop at “one” portion (I can easily eat THREE 100-calorie packs before I feel I’ve gotten the cookie fix I so desperately craved). Bran flakes and chocolate milk is strange, I know — but it’s a snack soaked in nutrition unsurpassed on the cookie aisle; this little concoction has only 160 calories, but still provides 6 grams of fiber, 12 grams of protein, and 30% of the daily value for calcium.

If you are craving chocolate… eat chocolate! Wait – there’s more…
The key to having a little chocolate is this:

1) make it dark chocolate

2) buy it in a candy bar portion (~200 calories)

Don’t buy a bag of chocolates, rather, buy one bar and call it good. If you a buy a bag and think “oh, I’ll just have a couple”, you go home with 1500-tempting calories staring you down 24/7. If you buy one 200-calorie bar and eat it… you’re done.

If none of these work for you, try a catch-all temptation remedy. Here are a few of my favs:

– 8 ounces of ice cold 100% orange juice

– one piece of the strongest, mintiest gum you can find

– fresh fruit, like bananas, grapes, or strawberries

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