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Originally published Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 3:01 PM

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How To ... Avoid Impulse Grocery Buys

Tips on avoiding impulse buys such as candy bars.

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HOW TO ... AVOID IMPULSE GROCERY BUYS

We've all grabbed a candy bar or an extra box of something-or-other that we don't need at the supermarket. Here are some strategies for restraint from Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab and author of the book "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think":

Don't shop when you're hungry. Not only will you likely buy more, you'll be attracted to heavily processed foods.

Start in the healthiest aisles. If you fill your cart with fruit, vegetables and other nutritious foods, you'll have less room for junk and your brain will understand that you're not going to starve. An empty cart in the chip or cookie aisle, on the other hand, is dangerous.

Beware of numerical "deals". Offers such as "buy two, get one free" or "limit 12 per person" can make people buy 30 to 100 percent more than they otherwise would, much of which they don't need.

Put numbers in your grocery list. Don't just write that you need soup, for example — write how many cans you need.

Use baskets when possible. If you have a short list of items, avoid shopping carts so you have to carry everything you're going to buy.

Try a mind game at the checkout. If you always seem to pick up a last-minute candy bar, set a rule that to buy any food item you also have to buy a non-food item such as a magazine. Suddenly you're spending $7 on a chocolate bar, which just might interrupt a mindless grab — and get you thinking about what you really need.

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