Shopping with a Grocery List Is Linked to a Healthier Diet and Lower BMI
When it’s time for the weekly grocery haul, do you a) write out a list and stick to it or b) head straight to the store and wing it? If you answered “b”, you may want to grab a pen and pad. A 2015 study from RAND Health, a nonprofit research organization specializing in health policy, found that writing out a grocery list before shopping was linked to lower BMI and healthier food choices in two urban neighborhoods.
Researchers interviewed over 1,370 adult grocery shoppers in the Pittsburgh area. Participants answered questions about their food purchasing habits and tracked their food intake on two separate days. Researchers used this information to score diets on a scale of 0 to 100. They also measured participants’ heights and weights. Shoppers who reported always using a grocery list had slightly healthier diets than those who sometimes or never used a list. List makers also had lower BMIs, equating to a 5’5’’ tall person weighing about five pounds less.
Though the differences between groups were not huge, these results suggest shopping with a grocery list may be a step towards a healthier lifestyle and a good habit to adopt. Creating a list helps ensure you don’t forget essential items while in the store, and making it a rule to stick to the list can prevent you from loading up your cart with unhealthy impulse purchases such as candy or chips. Plus, a well thought out list can help you stay within your budget and guarantee you have enough food to provide a week of healthy meals.
Before you head to the store, take an inventory of what food is already in the house and plan out your meals for the week (or however long until the next shopping day). You may also want to check your grocery store’s website or circular ad to see what healthy foods are on sale. Knowing the sales before you get to the store may help you avoid the temptation of the discounts in the cookie aisle.
Need some inspiration for a healthy weeknight meal? Our Sunflower Grilled Shrimp with Blackberries requires just a few simple ingredients and makes a healthy summertime dinner.
BONUS: Think fresh fruits and vegetables are too expensive to fit your budget? Research from Brown University found a healthy 2,000 calorie per day diet costs only $1.48 more per day than an unhealthy diet. Forgo a gourmet coffee and you’ll get a healthy day of eating with change to spare.
Published July 1, 2015