Shopping for groceries is an exciting opportunity to try new foods, create enticing dishes, and ensure you have pantry, fridge, and freezer staples on hand, but it can also result in bringing home tempting items that deter you from reaching your health goals. Even the most well-intentioned shoppers may find it challenging to stick to their grocery list all the time. Below are five tips to avoid temptation at the grocery store and stay on track with your goals:


  1. Eat before your grocery trip. Whether you consume a balanced meal or a small snack before you leave for the store, make sure that you are not hungry on your way to the grocery store. When your hunger cues are satisfied you are more likely to stick to your list and less likely to select lower quality options. It may even be worthwhile to ensure you are adequately hydrated by bringing a beverage like water with you to the store. You can feel hungry when you are simply dehydrated, so don’t forget about the importance of adequate hydration.
  2. Create a list and stick to it. Easier said than done, right? Although with enough intent and focus, this can be achieved. A key strategy to create a balanced list with a variety of healthful options is to do so before you leave for the store. If you are unsure where to begin in creating a balanced grocery list, consider reviewing this Cecelia Health blog on ten staples for your pantry or visiting this blog from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on creating a grocery list. Another strategy to stick to your list is to mark items off as you put them into your cart. This can be done via pen and paper, removing an item from your electronic list, or placing a checkmark next to the grocery item on an electronic device.
  3. Consider shopping online. When you shop for grocery items online, search for each item on your list via the search toolbar so you do not see other products and are not enticed by what additional options are available. This may be tricky if you like to pick out your own fresh produce. However, a work around is to buy everything except fresh products like fresh strawberries, tomatoes, or meat online that way when you go to the store you will only be in the fresh product areas and can then move directly to the checkout line.
  4. Be armed and ready to assess your motivation or reasons for making a change. If you are in the grocery store facing a temptation, circle back to why it is important to you to reach your goals. Honestly evaluate whether you purchase the temptation and if it will derail your progress. If it is necessary, make a list of why you are motivated for improving your health, setting a new goal, or creating a new lifestyle habit and bring the list of reasons with you to the store. When you see a tempting item that is hard to resist, refer to the list of why you have set these goals, then ask yourself what is more important. Most of the time you will be able to recalibrate your motivation and determine that a food item is not more important than the reasons for making a change.
  5. Treat yourself on occasion. When you occasionally incorporate an indulgence, you are less likely to be tempted at the grocery store because you do not feel deprived. If you have not yet strengthened your self-control, treat yourself away from home so items are not brought home. If you can say no to temptations at home, place indulgent items in a designated section in the kitchen so you do not view items regularly, such as the top shelf of the pantry or cupboard, or even the refrigerator drawer to keep these items out of plain view.


You can navigate the grocery store with purpose and intent by incorporating these strategies while grocery shopping. Be sure to eat before you leave for the grocery store, create a list and stick to it, consider shopping online, be prepared to reassess your motivation if needed, and treat yourself on occasion. There is no time like the present to consider following one or more of the strategies listed above to avoid temptations while grocery shopping.