Last week I made a classic mistake: I spent a couple of hours working after lunch and then rushed out the door to do some grocery shopping before dinner. It wasn’t until I was almost to the store that I realized how hungry I was – and that I would soon be surrounded by lots of tasty food. I told myself I had a list and I’d stick to it, and for the most part, I did . . . except for maybe that extra bag of chocolate chips and those yogurt-covered cookies my husband had casually mentioned as something to try sometime, if they weren’t too expensive.
Yep, I’d fallen into the diet-sabotaging trap of shopping while hungry. I knew it was a bad idea, but I didn’t know exactly how bad. A new study out from Cornell University tells us just how much more we buy – in bulk and in calories – when we go to the store on an empty stomach.
The study tested two groups of shoppers, all of whom had been asked to not eat anything for 5 hours beforehand. One group was then given some crackers to eat and then asked to do their grocery shopping. The others were given nothing to satisfy their hunger before entering the store. Those who shopped hungry bought 18.6% more food and 31% more high-calorie snacks (you know, like those yogurt-covered cookies) than those who ate the crackers first.
So, not only do you spend more money when you’re shopping hungry, you spend it on less healthy snacks that you’ll have around for the rest of the week. The solution is clear: don’t shop hungry. If you can, arrange your schedule so that you hit the grocery store soon after you’ve had breakfast or lunch. If that’s not an option, grab a (healthy) snack – like an apple or some nuts – to munch on before you go to the store. You’ll save on both money and calories. Double win.