- One study found that people actually buy more high-calorie groceries from the supermarket between January and March than in other months of the year.
- This increase in calories could be due to the colder months.
- Break old habits by using a grocery list, avoiding the electrical corridors, and doing a detox.
Research into New Year's Resolutions
Every year before we even ring in the New Year, many of us mark the occasion as a starting point for new beginnings and create resolutions to reflect that. Resolutions to get in shape are some of the most popular, and these often focus on eating better, especially after you eat, which often happens during the holiday season. How well do most of us stick to our dietary resolutions? Not very according to new research suggesting we are off course on the groceries we buy within the first three months of the year. And it's worse than you might think.
The study, conducted at Cornell University's Food and Branding Laboratory in Ithaca, New York, found that people actually buy more high-calorie groceries at the grocery store between January and March than during the other months of the year. The subjects were buyers from more than 200 households in New York State. Her grocery store habits were monitored over a seven month period between July 2010 and March 2011.
The information gathered about the participants' purchases in the supermarket was divided into three easily definable time periods. The first lasted from July through Thanksgiving, which was a normal time of year and a basis for typical buying behavior. The second segment lasted from Thanksgiving through New Years Eve and covers what you think is the most indulgent time of the year for many people in terms of food. After all, the last segment ran from New Years Day to March, as the start of the year is often an attempt to make healthier eating habits. All of the food the volunteers bought was rated and classified as healthy or unhealthy.
Most of the money was spent on groceries during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. Much more surprising, however, the data showed that the test subjects actually bought this largest amount of food in the period after the New Year. It's not that the effort to eat more nutritious wasn't there – there were plenty of fruits and vegetables in the shopping carts between January and March. However, these items were not bought to replace unhealthy snacks. They were bought right away with all that junk food. In fact, the difference added up to another nine percent of the above-average calories.
Habits break during the winter months
It seems that while many people have good intentions to get their diets together for the New Year, the persistent habits of the previous year are pretty hard to break. Of course, it is possible that the results of this study are somewhat flawed and would not repeat themselves if another experiment were to take place. After all, the results were based on a relatively small number of participants, and they were only in one state. If a more expansive part of the population and a more geographically diverse pool had been included, the results might have been different. For example, people living in New York City experience cold weather in January, February, and March and may be more inclined to seek high-calorie comfort foods, while those in a warmer climate may be more likely to accept lighter dishes.
How to break old habits
Ultimately, however, we all have to take responsibility for what we buy and eat without apologizing for why we cannot eat healthier foods. The scientists who conducted the research suggested making a shopping list of nutritious items at home and then strictly adhering to it in the store. This is a great idea as long as you can withstand impulse buying. You'll also want to spend most of your time on the edge of the grocery store, where produce, whole grain breads, and lean sources of protein are common. Don't even tempt yourself by walking down the aisles devoted to chips, cookies, and other junk food – what is known in the supermarket as power aisles. Find fresh, natural products that you really enjoy and soon you will not feel like you are missing anything. Remember that junk food is an addiction. If you stop doing it long enough, you will lose your taste for it. And if you're not feeling well after over-indulging in the vacation, start the year with a five-day liver detox. As Jon Barron says, not only does it offer all of the benefits of a good detox, but it also breaks any bad eating habits you learned during the holiday season. It is the perfect opportunity to really start over.