The Thursday Thesis - 19/3/2020
Today I’d like to share a simple idea that I use to control my dismal dietary choices and save time: my shopping list for people with no will power.
It was born out of frustration and a desire to make life easy for myself by substituting a system for my feeble will-power, and when I use it, it works.
When I don’t use it I’m a danger to myself, casually poisoning myself with the grain and dairy products which appear to fall magically into my supermarket trolley without me really noticing.
Way back in the 90’s my gym coach, Richard, told me “You can eat any food you like – here ia the list of all the foods you are going to like”.
And he did, handing me a couple of pages of A4 listing and rating all the foods which he thought would be good for a skinny, failed cycle racer (me) to eat whilst I trained and tried to build a little muscle.
It was a pretty comprehensive list, and the deal was simple: I could have anything on the list.
Naturally, I failed to stick to the list.
Richard laughed at my excuses and repeatedly urged me to clean up my diet and stick to the list.
I tried, it worked a bit, so I eased up... again and again.
Round and round I went, getting nowhere fast.
I really tried, but I began to lose heart as supermarket trips became a slow crawl as I mentally checked what I fancied against what I remembered of Rich’s list, second-guessing myself and generally being hopeless.
Gradually it dawned upon me to create my own list, but not a comprehensive fancy-pants list like Richard’s – I needed something simple, fast, and Neil-proof.
Next trip to Tesco I wrote down the order of the sections of my usual store, vegetables and fruit, meat, dairy, tinned good etc. I figured there was no point having an out-of-order list so I might as well map out the battleground.
Yep. According to Richard, the battle would be fought in the supermarket aisles, and my shopping choices would be vitally important.
So, with my Tesco store mapped-out in my mind, I made a spreadsheet with matching sections in the same order as my local store. Below each section I listed that section’s top items, added a tick-box in which to mark the items I wanted, and that was that.
The list was printed and always to hand in the kitchen, making it easy to tick what I needed when I ran low on any item.
Brilliant – not even I could screw it up, and good food choices seemed just a tick-box away: all I had to do was to use it, and never buy anything that wasn’t on my list.
The good news is that it works – the bad news is that I didn’t always use it.
So I’m giving you the template for the best shopping list in the world, so that you can modify it and make it work for you.
If you use it, it works.
And if – like me – you use it some of the time, you’ll get some benefit from it.
As for me, I’ve had my last cheese sandwich, and - at least for the foreseeable future - I’ll be living off my list and only off my list.
© Neil Cowmeadow 2020
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