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How to Navigate the Grocery Store

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It may seem like your grocery store is nothing significant-just another grocery store, with the same aisles, products and bad lighting. But if you’re not prepared to navigate the grocery store properly, it could be a trap deliberately designed to sucker you into purchasing the wrong foods, derailing your nutrition plan and keeping you from meeting your goals. Think about it. As soon as you cross those double doors and feel the cold rush of air conditioning on your face, you’re sidestepping ads and strategically placed “special” items, ducking and dodging the things you don’t need in order to get to the things you do.

The more you educate and prepare yourself for your trip to the grocery store, the more likely you are to succeed in making the right food choices. It might sound unnecessary – everyone can survive the store, it’s not physically dangerous – but if you want to keep on track and meet your goals, you’ve got to plan for success. Here are a few simple ways you can gear up to get your groceries.

Stick To The Perimeter

You’ve more than likely heard this grocery store guidance before: when you’re shopping, stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. Think of the layout of your local grocery store. The inner aisles are where you’re going to find highly processed cereal, chips, cookies – all of the stuff with very long shelf life that you don’t need to be eating. The perimeter is where all of your good, fresh produce, meats and dairy are going to be. They are perishable and require refrigeration or special conditions. That’s the nutritious stuff.

According to BodyBuilding.com, you should be doing about 80 percent of your grocery shopping around the perimeter of the store and save that remaining 20 percent for the center aisles. Hit the produce section, the deli, the meat counter and the dairy section for most of what you need.

Don’t Let Your Mood Dictate Your Cart Contents

Everyone knows it’s not smart to go shopping when you’re hungry. That’s a surefire way to end up with Oreos and frozen pizza in your cart. What you might not think about is keeping your mood, hungry or not, out of your grocery shopping decisions. There are a couple of ways to protect yourself from your mood.

Even before you make your grocery list, you need to change your mindset about your diet. Food is fuel. A means to an end, and that end is you, looking and feeling your absolute best. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy every bite you take, but eating shouldn’t be some grand, emotional event. It’s a meal. The rest of your life can be grand and emotional.

So, before you get to the grocery store, make a solid list to follow. It should mesh with your days ahead. When you get there, BodyBuilding.com suggests you stick to it. See your trip to the store as a transaction and not an emotional journey. Yeah, you want ice cream. Everybody wants ice cream. But you’ve already decided what you need to eat to meet your fitness and physique goals and ice cream didn’t make the cut. Leave it in the dust. (You shouldn’t even be in the ice cream aisle anyway. It’s not usually on the perimeter.)

Skip The Packaging

Outside of supplements and quick, healthy, portable snacks, the bulk of your food shouldn’t come in a box or a package or a bag. Anything in a package has been processed in some way, and while not all of it is necessarily bad for you, you should be eating more fresh, unprocessed foods than not. According to Authority Nutrition, processed foods are often loaded up with simple carbs and added sugars. They’re often devoid of beneficial micronutrients and lower in fiber than their fresh counterparts. Some people may even become addicted to packaged, processed foods.

Of course not everything that comes in a package is evil and addictive. When you are reaching for a packaged food, shoot for something with as little added junk in it as possible. All of Performance Inspired Nutrition’s products are formulated with exactly that in mind. We’re not about filler or added crap or artificial ingredients. We’re all natural and all real, ready to be the product that helps you meet your goals, not hold you back.

Frozen fruit and vegetables are can also be exceptions to the packaged foods rule. Produce is often flash frozen, which preserves most of its nutrients. And frozen fruits and veggies are convenient as all get out. They’re great for smoothies, oatmeal, steaming up a quick side dish and tons of other things. Stock up and have a few in the freezer for when you can’t get your hands on the fresh stuff. Again, try to avoid added extras such as sauces and sugars.

Accept A Higher Receipt

If you’re planning to eat healthy, fresh foods, accept the fact that your grocery store receipt might be sporting a slightly higher number than someone living on Kraft Dinners and Cocoa Pebbles. That’s just how it goes. This is especially true if you’re trying to build muscle with a high protein diet.

“With foods, as with most things, you get what you pay for,” according to BodyBuilding.com. “In addition to the fact that quality food often costs more than unhealthy food, you can expect to be buying quite a bit of it.”

No matter if you’re bulking or cutting, you’re going to be eating more than a person who doesn’t work out. Athletes need more calories, which means you’re going to be spending more on food to get them. Thankfully, you’re not going to be putting your money towards junk food, which can sometimes rack up your grocery bill faster than the fresh, healthy stuff. A bag of apples generally costs less than an apple pie from the bakery section.

Now you’re ready. You know what you need from the grocery store, what you don’t want and where to find what’s helpful. Never shop hungry and don’t let your mood dictate your decisions when it comes to food. Keep to the perimeter of the store and avoid the center aisles stocked with the less healthy, packaged goods. They’ll derail your diet and you don’t need to delegate your cash to anything that’s going to throw you off track. Now shop smart.

Want to feel inspired no matter what you’re doing? Whip out your smartphone and follow Performance Inspired Nutrition on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ll be the most inspiring, informative and Mark Wahlberg-filled thing in your feed.

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