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Can Couponing and Sale Shopping Make You Fat?

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I had a revelation this week; couponing and deal hunting can make you fat if you aren’t careful. I eagerly open my weekly coupon inserts to see a coupon for candy. I quickly flip the page to see more candy and gum coupons. Next page; potato chips. This is followed by processed foods and sugary cereals. Why on earth are most of the coupons for junk food?

To make matters worse, the best sales at the drug stores are often for sweets. One drugstore has even started giving gas card rebates to costumers if you buy a certain amount of certain products. What are your choices? Chocolate, hard candy, caramel-covered popcorn, chips, etc. There are very few choices for the health-conscious.

Why do they do this? I speculate that it is because if you have to buy $20 worth of cheaper items (like candy) you get a lot more total items then if you buy a more expensive item (like shampoo). If you receive more total items it makes you feel like you saved more money and got a better deal. You are then more likely to do the same deal again. Their hopes are that you grab some expensive perfume or makeup while you are there.

How do you avoid the “coupon fat trap”? As you flip through your coupon insert, pay attention to the item and not the amount off. If you see candy, flip to the next page. This will prevent you from cutting out the coupon simply because it is a “high value coupon” and will get you a great deal. When you are done clipping the essential and health/beauty coupons, donate the rest of your coupons to a friend. This will keep you from going back and cutting out the coupon later.

To avoid the “sale fat trap” skip the junk food pages in sales fliers and don’t walk up those aisles in the store. If you don’t know about the deal, it is easier to pass up. Avoiding the “fattening” coupons and sales will not only save your waist, it will help save your wallet too. You will avoid spending extra money on items you don’t need just to receive the good deal. You are not saving money if you spend $1 for something you don’t need and didn’t really want. So, pay close attention the next time you are checking out the weekly sales and coupons.

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  • I mostly only use coupons for non-food items. This allows me to spend more on good, wholesome food.

  • I never really thought of this before, but it is definitely something to think about. =)

  • I hate that so many of the coupons are for junk food. I like it when the stores run sales on produce, like $5 off purchase of $15, but that doesn’t happen often enough!

  • You make a valid point. There are ways to save on organic and healthy foods, too, but – you’re right – you typically have to seek out these companies to get coupons and free samples from them. (“Like” a favorite brand on facebook for example, and you just might find yourself getting free samples and coupons.) Your article kind of goes with the logic that the best way to save money is to stop buying things you don’t need or that aren’t good for you – whether you have a coupon or not.

  • Igor

    Never use coupons: they will end up dictating your food choices. Mark my words!

    Determine which foods you will and must eat, then go to the store and purchase them. Do NOT go into the center of the store where all the packaged (salty, sugary) goods are concentrated, but go around the outside where the fresh produce is displayed. Only go to the center for a few packaged staples like Olive Oil.

    Ignore price and buy fresh wholesome foods regardless of price. Buy nothing in packages.

    Buy blueberries, figs and dates (medjool, barhi, etc., but not the dreaded deglit noor) regardless of price.

    Make your menus around the fresh foods available rather than searching for foods to satisfy a menu.

    Prefer romaine, red leaf, green leaf salads before the inadequate iceberg.

    Buy white beans in bulk, if possible. Find good tomatoes (or raise your own). Get them at the farmers market along with zuchinni, eggplant and onions (there’s a good tasty reason that ratatouille is a stable in the mediterranean diet). Whenever bell peppers are cheap get large quantities and make piperade often. Poach an egg on top for piquancy.

    Switch from yogurt to kefir. Put a few blueberries or mandarins atop the kefir for the best dessert you’ve ever had. Use less kefir than you would yogurt.

  • Adam Scott

    Superb article, I really never thought of this. A lot of logical points. Next time i will think twice before using coupons.