Let’s be honest. Getting your groceries can be a daunting task. Long lines, busy shoppers, loud music, among other things that may make you shudder just thinking about it. Plus, with the abundance of food selection stacking on the shelves, we understand that the grocery store can be a nerve-wracking and stressful place for those struggling with an eating disorder. However, grocery shopping is essential for getting your food to meet the needs of your meal plan.
As you go through eating disorder recovery - whether it’s been years or it’s just the start of your healing journey - we want to make sure your shopping experience is nothing but an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. That's why we have compiled a few tips for grocery shopping in eating disorder recovery.
5 Tips to Make Grocery Shopping Less Daunting
1. Shop at a Less Busy Time
Shopping on a weekend afternoon is usually the prime time for busy families and couples. This busy environment may cause some stress and even sensory overload with potential triggers of diet culture comments surrounded by others.
If you have the time and availability, consider shopping during a time where it is less busy, such as during the weekdays or in the mornings. Not only that, if you purchase your fruits and vegetables in the morning, they are usually much fresher than new products are stocked up during the mornings – that’s a win-win!
2. Make a List
Whether you are planning your meals ahead of time or alongside a dietitian, having a handy list will make you focus on your task, and you get to spend less time overall in the store.
There are a couple different strategies for making a list - you can break them down into different categories, or if you have a favorite go-to grocery store, you can break it down by where each item is located in the store for easier shopping.
If you feel like it, try to include a fear food or two despite the fact your eating disorder thoughts may disapprove. Focus on things that you enjoy and what make YOU feel good! And with that, we strongly encourage you to work with a dietitian at NourishRX if you have any questions or concerns on how to apply this concept in your own life.
3. Bring a Shopping Buddy
Be it a family member, friend, or furry friend! Having someone supportive tag along can keep you grounded, hold you accountable to your list, and perhaps help distract the internal eating disorder dialogues you have.
If there isn’t one, try calling someone or putting on some music while you shop. Not only can it be a great distraction, but it can also provide you a little extra boost and help reduce some ongoing stress and anxiety. Running out of song ideas? We’ve got you covered!
4. Discover the quality of the food and limit label reading
Food labels can be tricky, misleading, challenging, and we totally understand. It is required to be on every food product. However, a food label is provided as a suggestion by the manufacturer and its purpose is really meant to keep the consumer informed. It describes the food, but it does not know what your body needs.
Rather than spending time reading food labels, try to focus more on the quality, nutrients, and ingredients of the food. How it makes you feel, keeps you satiated and energized etc. The serving size on the product does not tell you what your body should need or how much you should eat. All those numbers do NOT define you nor your body’s needs, and it isn’t necessarily the right amount for you.
The next time you find yourself having the urge to check the label, here are some practices you can try to incorporate:
- Set a limit on the number of labels you read every trip and slowly work your way down each time. For example, you can set a goal of only reading the top 5-7 food item labels and then reducing that number for each subsequent trip!
- Cover the label with a sticky note, sticker, or an affirmation when you get home
- Check in with yourself and ask yourself: “How will label reading help me in any way?”
As you are grocery shopping in eating disorder recovery, the goal is to focus on your body's needs and make peace with food. While you are healing with your relationship with food, slowly work on honoring your body cues. Of course, it is easier said than done. It is a marathon, not a sprint, and we here at NourishRX will be able to help and support you along the journey.
5. Try Online Grocery Shopping
Ever since the pandemic started, online shopping has been the norm for certain people. You can be one of them too! Grocery delivery or pickup services such as Instacart might come to the rescue if you find yourself getting easily distracted by crowds, noises, and packed shelves. Not only it provides us the opportunity to shop 24/7, it can also help save your time and money from traveling and (excess) shopping!
Progress, not perfection, is what counts. Grocery shopping in eating disorder recovery can be daunting. However, at NourishRX, we want to be there to support you in every possible way through your healing journey. Work with us if you find yourself in a spot needing some extra help and support!