(By the way, I take forever to get to the point in this post, so if you just want to read the “message” I got out of this experience, scroll down until you get to the purple writing)(but I’d be honoured if you read through the whole thing).
I find grocery shopping to be absolutely the most stressful task ever (yes, English teachers, I am hyperbolising). I don’t know what it is, but it just doesn’t work for me. I know the rules/strategies to make it smoother, and yet, NO.
· I create a meal plan – for my dinners and lunches mainly. I know my breakfast is going to be porridge or cereal.
· I shop my pantry & freezer first – what have I got that needs to be used up?
· I scour the catalogues to see what’s on special
· I write a list to buy just the things I need
· I include on my shopping list what I’m making for meals in the week so I’m less likely to impulse buy. (if it was on special and I wanted it, it would have been in the catalogue and made it onto my list already). So when I'm looking at an aisle, and wondering why I've picked up an item, I check with my meal plan to see if I can aford or need to fit in the deviation.
· I shop late in the day when there are less people around and more manager’s specials
· I shop the perimeter of the store and stay out of the aisles when I can
· I don’t shop hungry – I make sure I have eaten before I go.
I live on my own: I cook for one person. I go shopping everyweek. AND YET IT STILL TAKES ME OVER AN HOUR EACH TIME!! This has always been a point of contention for me. It takes me AN HOUR to shop for one person. Each week!! Argh!! Exclamation points to make my feelings known!!
So, that’s enough backstory, right? Sunday, grocery shopping, went with a list & meal plan.
Now, I’m currently sitting a delicate balance between eating good healthy food and sticking to a budget. I know lately that my shops have taken a little longer, because in the fresh produce section, I’m picking everything up, weighing it, then calculating the cost. I keep a running total on my hand, so much so that by the end of my trip I look like this guy:
Well, my hand does anyway! I probably look a little odd for it, I'll be the first to admit.
I possibly also emanate a little whiff of ‘nutter’ by muttering to myself my sums. $43-50, $43-50, 43-50, and then that’s $1.20, so I’m going to round that up to $1.50. 43-50 plus $1.50, 43-50 plus $1.50, that’s going to be ..... 45! 45,45,45,45.45,45... All while walking back to my trolley and etc.
Sunday’s shop proved to be long and stressful as I was conscious of trying to stay within my budget (went over by $25). By 5:40pm - mentally - I was done. That was it. I was tired and cranky and stressed and worried about getting home and cooking dinner and preparing lunch for Monday and still getting some reports finished for work the next day and ... ! I was over it.
Fifteen more minutes and I was finally in the last aisle. And I admit, I was swayed by the ice-cream fridge as I walked past it. Individual ice-cream cups of 200ml (6-7 oz? fl. oz?) were half price and only $1 each. Bargain! I could buy some to stock up and they could sit in my freezer and I could eat them in pre-decided portion amounts! What could be neater?! (ß You can see where this is going right? Delusion City!!). I’d been debating getting ice-cream anyway and at that price, who was I to resist? (Mind you, I must have looked nuttier again as I got them, because the flavours I like best were at the very back of the top shelf. Now, I’m tall, but I still had to stretch right up and then jump to get them. I even had to use the tray they sit in to roll the very back ones forward. I was determined to get that ice-cream!) Now, as I walked back and forth with them, I started a conversation in my head.
KEEP READING FROM HERE!
KEEP READING FROM HERE!
I’m going to put the voice of ‘my conscience’ – my Jiminy Cricket as it were – in blue, to distinguish between the two sides of my conversation.
As I looked at the ice-cream, I said to myself: I want ice-cream.
But then just as quickly, I asked myself do you really? Why? Why do you want ice-cream? The weather’s not even that warm.
I know, but I just want ice-cream.
I know, but I just want ice-cream.
I want something comforting.
I feel stressed and anxious and I want to feel better.
So... you don’t really want ice-cream do you?
… No, I just want something to make me feel better.
Is ice-cream going to be it?
Ice-cream will make me feel better
. . .
No; it won’t.
I’ll just feel like I’ve eaten ice-cream, but I won’t feel any better. I’ll feel sick from having had too much sugar and I’ll still feel anxious and stressed about work tomorrow, but I won’t feel better for having eaten ice-cream. I’ll also feel guilty onto top of anxious, because I’ve eaten food with meaningless calories. I’ll have eaten it for no benefit. It’ll just be (fat) gain.
Well, what will make you feel better and less stressed?
Taking 15 minutes to meditate when I get back home
… And, it worked! I got home, dumped the bags on the counter and before I even unpacked anything, I sat out on the balcony (it was a beautiful, still, balmy night), put in my earphones and played my favourite meditation tracks (5 minute mindfulness followed by a 10 minute progressive relaxation). 15 minutes later, I felt calmer and more settled.
I was ready to tackle dinner, and lunch and everything else I had to do.
And I didn’t eat any of that ice-cream!
All the tubs are still sitting in my freezer, ready for when I am ready to eat one because I’ve budgeted it into my daily calories. Not because “I want something to make me feel better”.
And I’m going to remind myself of that each time I open the freezer looking for food: Do you really want that, or do you just want something to make you feel better?