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Put Down the Phone While You Grocery Shop

Smartphones aren't always smart; they can lead to poor food choices in the grocery aisle.

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It’s not a good idea to be a distracted driver when pushing your shopping cart. A study with modern-day relevance found that people who used their phones for “shopping-unrelated” tasks—like scrolling through a social media feed or volleying text messages with a friend—purchased more unplanned items than people who didn’t use their phones while grocery shopping. And were those items a head of broccoli or a pint of blueberries? No, the purchases were mostly nutritionally poor, packaged foods.

When you choose groceries and use your phone at the same time, the tasks likely compete for cognitive resources, making it hard to excel at either. If you’re going to pull out your phone when browsing the produce aisle, make sure it’s just to check your shopping list.

The study appeared in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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