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You can’t avoid the grocery store altogether; you have to get food, after all. However, you can learn to shop smarter and avoid some of the enticing products that can ruin your diet. If you’re not careful and fall into the trap of these top temptations, you could consume a day’s worth of fat and calories before you even get back to your car.
5 Checkout Treats
Clearly you can’t avoid the checkout altogether—you have to pay for your groceries. But you can certainly try and stay away from the ones that are next to mini ice cream freezers, soda coolers and the infamous stash of candy bars. As an example, if you grab a 16-ounce bottle of cola, you’ll get more than 180 calories, plus another 280 calories from that chocolate bar you know you must have. That’s 460 calories in all. If every single checkout seems to have a wall of tempting goodies, pick up one of those celebrity magazines and start reading. It’s better to absorb useless knowledge than to load up on empty calories.
4 The Deli Counter
Getting freshly sliced cheeses or quality meats from your deli isn’t the concern. It’s the full-calorie side dishes and prepared foods you may pick up that are typically unhealthy. Take potato salad: a small 1-cup portion has over 350 calories—and that doesn’t include anything else you’ll pile on your plate at dinner. (If you have them scoop up tuna salad for you, keep in mind that every 1-cup serving has a whopping 380 calories. Or maybe that crispy fried chicken is catching your eye. Just be aware that a single piece of fried chicken breast has more than 360 calories. Back your cart away slowly and go get the ingredients to make a lower-cal version at home.
3 Vendor Tables
During peak hours, many large supermarkets often have vendors on-site so you can sample some of their products. While one little nibble probably won’t be detrimental to your waistline, if you snag a bite from every single table, those excess calories can add up fast. One of those little corn dogs has 75 calories, a small 1-ounce cup of mac and cheese gives you nearly 45 calories, and that innocent-looking 1-ounce sliver of pecan pie has—drum roll please—115 calories! You can do a few different things to avoid those pushy vendors. Have a snack before you shop or, better yet, go after a meal. When you get there, pop in earbuds, listen to tunes, stare at your shopping list and just keep walking. Ideally, skip your grocery trip on evenings and weekends…times when food tables tend to be hiding around every corner.
2 Frozen Entrées
You know you have a slew of meetings and deadlines this week and probably don’t have any time to even think about preparing a nutritious meal. You might find yourself wandering down the frozen entrée section to pick up a few of those boxed ready-to-go meals. One less thing you’ll have to do this week. While some of these dishes claim to be single portions, they’re often loaded with fat, calories and sodium—more than 1,000 calories, 50 grams of fat and 1,500 milligrams of sodium in some cases. You’re better off getting a bag of frozen veggies and a package of frozen chicken cutlets and spending a few extra minutes sautéing everything up yourself. If you do decide to grab a few frozen meals, look for ones that are low sodium, reduced fat or lower in calories than the original version. That way you’ll feel a bit less guilty.
1 The Bakery
As soon as you walk into the grocery store, you often get that heavenly whiff of freshly baked bread. Instantly your mouth starts watering and you follow your nose. Once you get over there, you’re surrounded by cakes, brownies, cookies and everything your sweet tooth could ever crave. Even if you have the strength to avoid putting some of the goodies in your cart, bakery professionals may try to lure you over to the counter and give you free samples. But be warned: One of those scrumptious cookies has roughly 100 to 130 calories.