Want to lose weight? Try changing your ‘shopper type’

How do you shop? Do you have a shopping list and stick to it? Do you make impulse purchases? Are you easily swayed by special offers? 

According to a survey by Slimming World and YouGov, how you shop and the choices you make could have a major impact on your ability to manage your weight.

The survey looked at the food buying habits of 2,063 UK shoppers and measured them against their Body Mass Index (BMI) data to see whether the ability to plan ahead and stick to a shopping list had any correlation with people’s waistlines. 

Looking at four shopper types – the Controller, the Flexible Planner, the Drifter and the Impulse Buyer – the survey reveals that while, as might be expected, Impulse Buyers who don’t plan ahead are likely be very overweight (with a BMI of 30kg/m² or more), Controllers who follow their lists to the letter are also likely to be overweight as they struggle to keep up with their strict regime over time. Flexible Planners who plan ahead, but allow themselves some leeway, in moderation, to take advantage of a bargain or to buy that bottle of wine or chocolate bar they fancy, are the most likely to be a healthy weight.

The four shopper types are:

Controllers – Likely to be overweight

Despite sticking rigidly to their shopping lists, never making impulse purchases and not being swayed by special offers, these shoppers are the most likely to be slightly overweight. This is likely to be because they are too hard on themselves most of the time, leading them to have the occasional blowout as a result.

Flexible Planners – Likely to be a healthy weight

Following their list but giving themselves the freedom to enjoy a little of what they fancy and take advantage of special offers, these shoppers are comfortably the most likely to be a healthy weight. This is likely to be because planning ahead gives them a structure to follow, while allowing themselves some flexibility ensures that they’re less likely to feel deprived.

Drifters – Likely to be overweight

Although these shoppers have a loose plan, they often drift away from it when something takes their fancy or if they see a bargain special offer. These shoppers are most likely to be overweight.

Impulse Buyers – Likely to be very overweight

These shoppers don’t plan ahead, preferring to make spontaneous choices depending on what they fancy at the time and what’s on offer. These shoppers are the most likely to be very overweight, putting their health at significant risk.

“When it comes to healthy food shopping, it’s all about having a good balance,” says Jenny Barber, Slimming World Nutritionist. “If you don’t plan ahead at all you can easily end up with an unhealthy shopping trolley. However, while planning ahead is important, you need to have some flexibility if you’re going to keep up a healthy lifestyle in the long term.

“If you’ve developed unhealthy shopping and eating patterns over a long time, then making changes on your own can seem like an impossible task. The good news is that healthy shopping and healthy eating in general are habits that can be learned. That’s why the strong support network of a slimming club, where people share experiences, difficulties, ideas and practical knowledge with others who face the same challenges can help to make long term behaviour changes.”

The survey also revealed that 74 per cent of UK shoppers are persuaded by BOGOF offers (Buy One Get One Free), 36 per cent make impulse purchases depending on what they fancy and 32 per cent often come back from their shop with foods that they didn’t plan to buy.

Matt Briggs, who lost a staggering 17st 10½lbs with Slimming World, says: “Before I lost weight I would often just buy whatever I fancied at the time or whatever was on special offer. There was no structure to my shopping and I never planned my meals.

“Now I plan my shopping I have a much more varied diet and, because I’m buying more of what I need and less of what I don’t, it’s cheaper too. I’ll always allow myself some flexibility to get a bit of what I fancy or take advantage of special offer though, as I know from experience that being too strict on yourself doesn’t work. I think that while the old me, when I weighed 31st, was definitely an Impulsive Buyer, there is no doubt that I’m now a Flexible Planner. Planning ahead means I have a structure but I can still enjoy the odd chocolate or dessert and, with my sweet tooth, that’s important for long term success.”

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