Weight loss habit #16: Shopping list

How to do it:

Anyone can benefit from shopping from a grocery list, but this habit pairs extremely well with Follow a menu. When you have a weekly menu, creating a shopping list is a fairly quick and easy process. I use a phone app that saves previous list items in memory. During the week, I add items as they run out or run low, and just before shopping I can quickly move things we use every week from the past purchases list to the active list. Some apps can be shared by family members, so your loved ones can easily let you know when they need shampoo or ate the last English muffin.

If you prefer a more low-tech approach, an old-fashioned paper list on the fridge or counter will help you keep track. Whatever method you use, you’ll need a plan, even if it’s fairly informal, for what you’ll eat in the coming week.

Once you have a list, stick to it. The only exception should be an item that you accidently left off the list.


Why do it:

When you create a shopping list, you’re making a commitment about how you want to eat over the coming week. Making food decisions ahead of time, rather than when you’re hungry or bored or anxious or tired, results in better decisions.

  • You’ll be less likely to over-buy, which will cut down on food spoilage as well as overeating.
  • If you have healthy snacks on hand, you’ll be less likely to run out for chips and ice cream when a snack attack hits.
  • When you have a grocery list, you’re less prone to impulse purchases, which means that you’ll have less junk food around the house.
  • This strategy works!  In a recent study of people in a low-income area of Philadelphia, those who habitually shop from a list have a lower BMI than people who don’t.




Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, v.47, no. 3, May-June 2015, p. 259-264. “Using a Grocery List is Associated with a Healthier Diet and Lower BMI Among Very High-Risk Adults.” Tamara Dubowitz, Deborah A. Cohen, Christina Y. Huang, Robin Beckman, and Rebecca L. Collins.

Addictive Behaviors, Volume 26, Issue 3, May-June 2001, pp. 39-340. “Weight locus of control and weight-related attitudes and behaviors in an overweight populations.” Cheryl L. Holt, Eddie M. Clark, and Matthew W. Kreuter.

“Secret weapon to a healthy weight: A shopping list.” By Jen Christensen. May 8, 2015. CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/08/health/shopping-list-weight/

“Just Shopping with a List Can Help You Lose Weight.”. http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/weight_loss/shopping-list.htm



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