Avoid the Trap of the Junk Food Bargain Sale8 months ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
It is probably fair to conclude that the food industry is not really a health-promoting business. It is perhaps better described as a money-making business! Take, for example, recent research conducted in Australia which suggested that on average junk foods in Austrailian supermarkets are discounted twice as often as healthy foods.
“Food manufacturers and supermarkets know unhealthy food is often bought on impulse, making price discounts a great way to entice customers to make those impulse choices,” according to this report discussing the study.
Given my experience in our supermarkets here in the U.S., a similar study may very well lead to the same conclusion. Essentially, our impulse choices to buy junk food means more dollar signs for the junk food manufacturers, but it also means more pounds to our bodies. All this junk food increases our risk for devastating diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and more.
As we have previously discussed, processed foods high in salt and sugar are very hard to eliminate from your diet once you are in the habit of eating them. Some research has even shown that these unhealthy, nutrient-void foods may be just as addictive as drugs! So between the bargain and the sugar and salt “high,” you may find it especially difficult to not pick up those cookies or potato chips that are on sale during the next visit to your local grocery store.
And do you ever wonder why when you’re at the checkout lines at the grocery store, there’s candy and soda readily available for purchase? Well, that’s because many impulsive purchases occur at checkout, according to this report.
The study in Australia examined supermarket specials over the course of a year to see how healthy they were. The results revealed that compared to healthy foods, junk foods were on sale 29 percent of the time versus 15 percent of the time for healthy foods. Junk foods included foods such as chocolate, chips, confectionary products, high-sugar breakfast cereals and more.
In the United States, you also tend to get more bang for your buck when you go for the unhealthy stuff.
“But junk and fast food is also cheaper for most Americans. A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that an unprocessed diet cost 40% more than an ultra-processed one,” according to this recent report.
Whole Foods, the mecca of healthy foods, was just named America’s most expensive grocer.
In addition to this, so many of us are busy and overwhelmed that we often go for convenience over health when it comes to grocery shopping. For example, we may buy store bought pasta sauce, rich in sugar, salt and preservatives, instead of buying fresh tomatoes and basil and making our own. Not to mention, many Americans may live in food deserts and just not have access to healthy foods.
No matter what the situation, we have to be proactive. The cost of obesity is just something that none of us can afford.
“Obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and healthcare costs in the United States. Currently, estimates of these costs range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year. In addition, obesity is associated with job absenteeism, costing approximately $4.3 billion annually and with lower productivity while at work, costing employers $506 per obese worker per year,” reports the State of Obesity.
So here are some tips to be a more healthy, proactive grocery shopper.
- Stick to the perimeter. This is where you will find the fresh produce, meats and seafoods. If you avoid the chip and candy aisles, you will be less tempted to buy on impulse.
- Never grocery shop hungry. We’ve all been there. You go to the store hungry and return with so many items, usually prepackaged unhealthy foods, you practically feel like you had an out of body experience at the grocery store.
- Visit the farmers’ market. You may find great deals on local produce. You are also less likely to be tempted by processed junk foods. There is usually not a cookie or chip aisle at the farmers’ market.
- Be prepared. It happens all of the time. At the end of the week, we regretfully throw away spoiled produce from our refrigerator. And spoiled food means wasted money. This is why planning is key. Plan out your meals in advance, and then you will know exactly what you need when you go to the store. Keep in mind you can always freeze produce. I also tend to make more trips to the grocery store and buy less. I find that making one weekly trip and buying a bunch of food leaves very little room for unexpected events that may prevent you from cooking. For example, if your friend from college is suddenly in town for a night, you want to be able to go out to dinner with him or her and not have to worry about wasting good food you bought at the grocery store.
- Have a budget. Coming across a good sale will never be as beneficial as setting a budget. And let’s face it. So many of us just grocery shop and don’t budget. Don’t let those junk food sales trick you into making you think you are making a good decision for your finances. Instead, set a monthly grocery budget appropriate for your income and household size.
- Eat less meat. Not only may this save you some dollars, but going meat-free (even just once a week) may decrease your risk of metabolic diseases and cancer. It also gives you the opportunity to eat plenty of plant-based, nutrient-rich foods.
Remember, our health is our greatest wealth, and healthy food is medicine!
Enjoy your healthy life!
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