6 supermarket traps everyone should know about

While supermarkets are a convenient one-stop-shop for many people, particularly when lined up on the street next to your pharmacy, liquor store and bank, these 6 supermarket traps can send our healthy habits flying out the window. 

There’s always the option to try to avoid visiting supermarkets altogether by growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs, or visiting the local farmers market, butcher, baker or fishmonger. But for many people, the supermarket is the easiest option available - and it’s ready to trick you in all sorts of ways! Here are some things to be wary of:

Be aware of product placement 

Did you know that certain brands are located on the shelf on a particular level – specifically to catch your attention? Welcome to the world of marketing. Those larger, more well-known brands are usually right about eye height, and take up majority of the space. This does not necessarily mean that it’s better quality, more nutritional, or cheaper. Look further up, down, and side to side and try to find the best brand that suits your needs.

Look past the health claims

Did you know that any health claim is allowed to be placed on the front of a food package, as long as it’s true? Take marshmallows, my favourite example: “Eat me, eat me, I’m 99% fat free”. Oh wow! That is amazing! Until you learn that the majority of a marshmallow is, in fact, sugar. Look at the nutrition information panel and ingredient list to ensure the product is aligned to your nutrition goals, and when comparing products, go to the ‘per 100g’ column. Or to simplify this complex task, let the free FoodSwitch app do the work for you! 

Avoid the rubbish aisle

And no, I’m not talking about the aisle which stocks our garbage bags and detergent needs. I’m talking about the aisle no one needs to go down… the chip and soft drink aisle! If you just skip past the aisle altogether, then there’s limited risk of accidentally knocking some of those salty, sugary, nutrient-poor products into the trolley. If you want nuts, go to the fresh nuts section which is usually near the fruit and veg or with the organic foods. There are some other aisles that you might find you rarely need to go down as well – keep this in mind and avoid the temptation.
Kids grocery shopping

Don’t shop while hungry 

It’s an oldie, but a goodie. It’s highly likely you’ll grab something that you’re feeling like right now, and you can get it because it’s right there in front of you. If it’s something healthy, then good for you! You’re a rarity and you should be proud of that. If it’s choccies, salty chips or a baked goodie, you’re probably the norm. If you eat before you shop, it just makes decision making easier and wouldn’t we all like that in life!

Don’t get sucked in at the checkout

Regardless of whether it’s a self-service checkout or not, you will notice magazines, sugary chilled drinks, and sweet treats at the exact location you’re going to be standing until it’s your turn to scan those healthy items. So – avoid eye contact with magazines promoting fad diets and unrealistic promotions of body transformations – airbrushing is still very much a thing and diets that don’t work are too. Regarding snacks… if you’re not hungry, that should help, but if you do like grabbing something for the road, then try to opt for something small or choose sparkling water over the sugary drink options. I’m not saying ‘go without altogether’ if it’s your little joyous moment, everything is ok in moderation, but hopefully these tips will help you to choose more of the good stuff and less of the bad.

Watch out for multi-buys

2 for 5 dollars. 3 for this, 5 for that. Beware!!! This is a great way to encourage you to buy more than you wanted, just to save that 58 cents! If it’s a product you regularly buy, bonus. If it’s in the fruit and vegetable department, bonus. If it’s not… reconsider. Spending an extra 2 dollars in order to save 58 cents still leaves you out of pocket, and might cause that ‘snaccident’* later on.

Without going into the psychology used for marketing and supermarket design, these are a few little tips which might help you stick to your health goals when you’re stepping into a world of choice… and lots of it!

*Snaccident: eating a super-sized chocolate bar entirely by mistake.

Back to top