It’s no secret that we spend more money at the grocery store when we shop hungry. But hitting the supermarket on an empty stomach also expands our waistline.
According to research at Cornell University, hungry shoppers buy more candy, salty snacks, high-carb foods and red meat. While people who eat before they shop tend to buy fruits, vegetables and lean protein. And that difference holds true whether we’re shopping with a list or not.
Nutritional science expert Dr. Brian Wansink says the reason is simple: When levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin are high, our brains search out calorie-rich foods to keep us from starving. And since grocery shopping can affect what we eat for an entire week, timing our supermarket trips when ghrelin levels are low can decrease the calories we bring home by more than 20-percent.
One final grocery shopping warning: If you always eat lunch at noon, don’t grab a snack at 10:30 am and think you’re safe to go shopping at 12\. Our bodies produce ghrelin at our usual mealtimes whether our stomachs are full or not. So eating an off-hour snack won’t stop you from loading your grocery cart with junk.