1. Going shopping when you're hungry
Just don't do it. Going to the supermarket when you're starving spells disaster, because all you can think about is what you want to eat RIGHT THAT SECOND. And that's unlikely to be a salad. The consequence is that you will either A) grab a [insert unhealthy snack food of choice here] and eat it as you walk around or 2) make purchases on the basis of your hunger, and then overeat when you get home (or to the car, if you can't make it that far).
2. Not writing a list
Have you ever been to the supermarket, spent P500, and still had nothing to cook for dinner? Us too. To avoid this happening, make a plan in advance of the meals you want to prepare that week, write a list of what you need, and try and stick to it. Another idea is to take a screenshot of a recipe on your phone, and have this on hand as you shop.
3. Avoiding the frozen section
Yes it's home to frozen pizzas, ready meals, and tubs of ice cream. But the freezer section is also where you can pick up really affordable bags of frozen fruit and vegetables that are great for when you want a quick and easy meal with minimum preparation. Frozen produce is usually picked, packaged, and frozen within a very short time-span. This means it may actually contain more nutrients than some supermarket "fresh" fruit and vegetables, which can lie in storage for weeks before making it to the shelves.
4. Not allowing yourself any treats
You might feel quite virtuous when you arrive home with your bags of shopping packed with an array of foods that would impress any nutritionist. But is it realistic to think you can go all week without a treat? Probably not. To avoid caving mid-week and ordering in a takeaway, allow yourself a few indulgences. If you're eating a healthy, unprocessed diet 80% of the time, you can afford and enjoy the odd bar of chocolate or glass of wine!
5. Skipping the canned foods aisle
The canned food aisle actually contains some nutrient-rich store cupboard staples. Canned beans, lentils, and pulses are a great source of protein, fiber, and energy-boosting B vitamins, which are fantastic to add to soups and stews. Canned fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are a cheaper alternative to fresh fish, but are still rich in heart and brain healthy omega 3 fats.
6. Shopping at convenience stores
Most of us pass several convenience stores and mini marts on our way home from work, and it can become an easy habit to just grab dinner on the way home. The problem is that these stores are very much tailored towards convenience, rather than cooking. They usually have only a very small array of fresh produce, particularly loose fruit and vegetables, and much more in the way of pre-prepared food and ready meals. While fine on occasion, convenience food is no-match for simple, healthy, home cooking.
7. Buying low-fat
It can be hard to change a habit of a lifetime, but there is now a wealth of evidence to suggest that eating low-fat is not an effective approach to weight loss, or just good health in general. Further to this, "low-fat" branded products are more often than not packed with either sugar or artificial sweeteners to make them palatable (fat tastes good, and when it's removed, something needs to be added in its place). Steer clear of these products, and instead choose foods that contain "healthy" fats such as natural yogurt, nuts, seeds, and avocado.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.