Our team at DiabetesCare.net has received many questions about shopping for food in the supermarket. In the future, I will write about different aspects of grocery shopping. Today we will discuss food marketing of grocery stores and suggestions to keep your food purchases on track with what you and your family actually need.

grocery strategies for making health choices while shopping with diabetesIn many of the grocery stores in the United States, the layout of the stores are very similar. (1) Owners and managers of grocery stores would like you to come in and have an extremely enjoyable experience. The stores want to be seen as a friendly place to go for your shopping needs. To entice people to buy more foods, the items need to be fresh and seen as a good value for the money spent. (2) Usually when entering a store, if flowers are sold, you will see them there. This will be followed by either the bakery with smells of fresh bread or the produce department with colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables. All of these products give your brain a sensory experience that more than likely puts you in the mood to put foods in your shopping cart. Some stores offer food samples for you to further enjoy a sensory experience. The spots where samples are offered are strategically located to maximize your spending in the store.

Think about the marketing skills of the store in how they may want you to “binge shop”. This means buy many more items than you were planning to get when you entered the store.  If you understand what is happening, you may be able to plan ahead and buy what you need for your food plan and the needs of your family and nothing more. 

Does your store have designated entrances and exits? Think of this as a way to make you go through the store and possibly shop more. Most stores have products like milk at the back of the store so you must travel through many departments if this is all you need. This increases the possibility that you will buy one or two impulse items on your way out.  Know that many companies pay “slotting fees” for their products to be located in prime locations. These locations have been researched to increase the chance you will buy the item. (3) Items that have the best locations are at the ends of isles or at the front of the store before you check out.

Three Suggestions to Help Reduce Impulse Buying

Suggestion 1: Know the layout of your grocery store. Know where the foods you buy are placed in your favorite stores. Some people actually make a diagram of the store layout to plan how they will pick-up their needed items. This can help make your shopping trip more time efficient.

Suggestion 2:  Plan your meals for a week or at least for 3 days. Make a list of the items you will need to buy to make your meals. Use a computer, list the items you will buy in the order of how your market is set-up. Know if you will buy brand name products or store brands. The shelf placement will vary depending on your needs. If your supermarket has a flyer for weekly sales, look at this before you plan your meals to see if you want to use any of the sale items.

Suggestion 3:  When using coupons, only buy foods that you actually need. Look for coupons as you make your meal plan to help reduce your cost if possible. Manufacturers try to get you to buy their products with the “money saving” strategy of offering coupons.  If you don’t need the product and you buy it with a coupon, then you did not save money.  

Over the next few months we will discuss different parts of the supermarket and what to consider when buying specific foods. We will discuss fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and meats as well as other favorite foods. Let me know your questions about shopping for food and I will include the answers in my future articles. Remember we at DiabetesCare.net want to help you understand all aspects of controlling your diabetes.