Podcast Episode #7: Grocery Shopping Tips for Dopamine-Depleted Brains

Do you hate grocery shopping as much as I do? Why do the “easy” things in life seem so hard for you and me? One word: dopamine. Let’s commiserate about how much we hate mundane tasks!

[00:00:00] Welcome to the I Have ADHD Podcast where it’s all about education, encouragement, and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carder and I have ADHD.

Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor, and challenges of adulting, relationships, working, and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain, unlock your potential and move from “point a to point b.”

Hello! Hello, my friends. How are you? Happy, happy, happy day. I hope you are having such a great day today. I am caffeinated. I am medicated and I am ready to role. This morning I woke up and I was planning out my day and I realized that not only do I [00:01:00] have my third-grade son’s Valentine’s day party today, which I knew about, I was planning for it, what I forgot was that I’m supposed to bring a game and lead a game for the class during this party.

So yes, the party was on my calendar. Yes. I am prepared to go. And participate. No, I did not remember the game. No, I did not remember that. I had to think of a game, buy the supplies and then lead the game at the party. So my morning started off with a jolt of adrenaline, trying to figure out how I was going to, um, add in a target trip into this day.

And, um, even like, what game am I going to lead and why did I volunteer for this in the first place? And I’m really would like to go back to, um, you know, September and slap myself across the face for even thinking that I wanted to volunteer. There is a lot [00:02:00] of guilt that comes with motherhood. And so one of the big things that is guilt driven is, uh, you know, helping out with school parties.

That’s what moms do. Right. Right. I guess, I guess that’s what moms do. And so here I am, um, trying to make it all work today and, you know, girlfriend got it done. I went to target. I bought probably. Um, a lot of things I did not need, which we do not need to talk about, but yes, I could use an intervention for, and I got supplies for a couple of games, um, because I am great.

Okay. I got it done. One thing that I did have to do this morning, as I like, realized that I had forgotten this and I was trying to figure everything out is I really had to align myself and not allow shame [00:03:00] to creep in. So immediately the thought of like, I can’t believe you forgot. You’re ridiculous.

You’re 37. Get it together. I’m sure the other moms are prepared. Why are you the one that forgot all of those thoughts began to creep in. And I was like, you know what, now it is fine. I’m going to be fine. We’re going to get it done. Charlie will never know that I forgot to get the supplies or even remember, you know, to bring a game.

It’s going to be fine. Um, I think every day we need to make sure that we don’t let those thoughts or feelings of shame creep in. If you haven’t listened to the episode on shame, uh, it’s episode number five. Um, I think it’s really important and it’s something that we should revisit over and over because I think that shame really definitely tries to creep in.

Every time we mess up because we hold ourselves to the same standards as our neuro-typical [00:04:00] friends. And that’s not fair. It’s not fair to us to do that. And so, yes, the other moms are prepared who cares? I am going to go in and have the games ready and it’s going to be fine. And next year I will try to remember not to volunteer.

Is that terrible? I don’t know if you’re a parent, do you volunteer? Kids, you know, classes. Um, it seems like something that I should do, but then when the day rolls around, there’s a lot of angst involved. So I don’t know if I’ll be doing it again. Um, today we’re going to be talking about one of the things that I hate the most in my life, and that is.

Grocery shopping, making sure that my fridge and pantry are stocked with food for my family of five. Now I realize that not everyone hates this. And so, you know, if you [00:05:00] absolutely love grocery shopping and cooking and everything that’s involved. That’s awesome. Tell me your secret. And also, you know, if this episode’s not for you, that’s fine.

But I think a lot of us with ADHD struggle with the mundane. Things of life. Right? And so for me, grocery shopping, cooking, keeping everything stocked, making sure my family of five has what they need for. Eating every day, every day, three meals a day, every day. So that’s 15 meals a day that I’m responsible for.

Um, I just don’t love it. It’s not something I’m good at. I am not going to pretend that I have it all together in this area of my life. I am totally in the midst of the journey. I have not arrived whatsoever. Now I have learned some things along the way. I’m [00:06:00] definitely going to share them with you, but it’s going to be more of a.

I do, as I say, not as I do, because yes, I’ve learned a lot and I know exactly how to make it work, but I really struggled to actually do it. And there’s a reason why there’s a reason why this part of life is so, so difficult. It’s because it is so mundane, there is hardly any reward involved. And those of us with ADHD have very low levels of dopamine in our brain.

Dopamine allows us to regulate emotional responses and to take action, to achieve specific. It’s responsible for the feeling of pleasure and reward. So we don’t get that blast of dopamine. Every time we do something mundane or a menial [00:07:00] task, this is why many of us have dishes sitting in our sink because we don’t have that.

Shot of dopamine. Every time we do the dishes, we don’t have that shot of dopamine. Every time we make our bed, we don’t have that shot of dopamine. Every time we pay our bills, we just don’t have the same brain as everyone else. Understanding that and realizing that is really, really important because, um, I think sometimes we wait around to feel good about these menial tasks and we’re just not going to okay.

So we’re not going to. To ever get those, um, same feelings as our neuro-typical friends. We’re just not going to, so we can’t wait around for that shot of dopamine. We have to create it for ourselves by creating new rewards for ourselves, or we just have to power through. Figure out a way to do [00:08:00] it. So I have three kids.

They are now old enough to complain about every single thing that I put in front of them for a meal. So it’s very difficult for me to enjoy cooking because my family is not in a place where they are giving me a lot of praise and a lot of reward. I’m not getting these warm and fuzzy feelings for.

Creating this, you know, this meal for my family, and then everyone sits down and everyone’s eating and asking for seconds. And I’m seeing the, the success and reward of my effort that is not happening. I make the meal. First of all, it’s crazy because you know, my kids are 10 and eight and four. They’re all boys.

They’re loud. They interrupt a lot. They are. Introverted. They are extroverted. So they’re very talkative and they want to be near me. And so I’m interrupted constantly while I’m cooking. And then when we sit down to [00:09:00] eat, um, there are a lot of complaints and yes, I know that we could do a whole episode on parenting and how I need to manage my family better in this way.

My husband and I really try to be intentional with teaching our children. And we really try to be intentional with teaching them to honor us and to just, you know, eat what we put in front of them. Unfortunately, my children are not robots. And so I cannot program them to love adult food. And on the other side of that, I definitely cannot make chicken nuggets and Mac and cheese every single night for dinner.

Right. So there is. Um, issue that I face where the list-making and the meal planning and the grocery shopping and the bringing it home and putting it away and all of that and the cooking, it doesn’t lead to a massive reward. And because my brain is dopamine deficient, I feel as [00:10:00] though I may. Experience that lack of reward even more acutely than a neuro-typical mom.

Okay. So I’m not trying to look for sympathy whatsoever. I think every mom struggles with her kids not eating. You know what she puts in front of them. But what I am saying is that, because there’s not that reward, I don’t just feel warm, fuzzy feelings about the process that is stocking my home with food.

There’s no warm, fuzzy feeling other than knowing that my family is not malnourished, which, you know, thank the Lord for that. So, because my brain has less dopamine than a typical brain. I feel like I struggle so much to see the why behind the daily grocery shopping, extravagant. Also, I [00:11:00] suck at multi-step tasks, right?

Because my executive functioning is very, very poor. The frontal lobe of the brain is what controls the executive functions. And unfortunately, for those of us with ADHD, our frontal lobe is. As fully developed as a neurotypical brain brain scans have actually shown that an ADHD brains frontal lobe is smaller than that of a neuro-typical brain.

That means that we are going to always struggle with executive functioning. Can we make improvements and get better at it? Absolutely. But is it going to be something that we always struggle? Probably there are so many steps involved with grocery shopping and it involves, it requires. All of our executive functions, planning, prioritizing time management, working memory [00:12:00] organization, all of that is involved with stocking our home with food every single week meal planning.

List-making remembering the list, budgeting the time to go spending the time to do it every week, remembering to do it. It all involves executive functions and we are not super great with the executive functioning. Right? So grocery shopping has been a struggle for me since the day I moved out of my parents’ house.

I’ve gone through seasons of buying way too much stuff. Or way too little forgetting important things and almost always making multiple trips to the store each week. And now that my kids are old enough to remind me of the things that I’ve forgotten, I do have two. Make sure that I don’t allow myself to feel shame because every person in our home has a different taste of what they like, what they want me to buy, what they, you know, think they need for [00:13:00] their lunch, that they pack for school.

And so it can be a lot to manage. So in the last year I’ve decided to make a change. And I’m wondering, do you need to make a change? Are you in a place of frustration with grocery shopping or are you. So for me, I realized that I was making the same mistakes over and over. Now it took me about 15 years to make that realization because I’m a slow learner.

We also struggle as ADHD years with self-reflection. So it took me a long time to realize, oh my goodness, I am doing the same thing over and over and over. I’m making the same mistakes over and over and over. I am actually pretty frustrated about. I would like to make a change. So I invite you to take 10 seconds and ask yourself, are you making the same mistakes over and over with grocery [00:14:00] shopping?

Are you frustrated about it? Are you in a place where you’d like to make a change?

Okay, let’s get rolling. Here is my number one tip for surviving the horrible mundane task of grocery shopping. Are you ready? I do not go inside the grocery store. Listen, it’s 2019. There is no reason for you to have to go inside the grocery store unless you live in a super remote area. In which case I suggest you move because it will be worth it since you won’t have to go inside the groceries.

So as you know, I’m in Pennsylvania and a three out of our local grocery stores allow for online ordering and store pickup. [00:15:00] This means that I order my groceries once a day. Pay online set a pickup time. That works for me. And when I feel like it, I drive up to the store and they literally put the bags of groceries into my car.

And then I drive away. You guys, this has changed my life. It is a total game changer. Here are the five things that I love about ordering my groceries online. Number one, there’s a lot less thought involved. All right. I’ll be honest. The first two or three times I ordered online, it was a pain I had to search for the items that I wanted and the website was not so easy to navigate, but now all of my items are saved in a master weekly groceries list.

So when I go to order. I have all of my regular items saved and I can easily scan the things that I buy. And I asked myself, do I need [00:16:00] this? Do I need this, do this? And I add it to my cart if I need it. There’s far less thinking involved and way fewer decisions to make.

Hey, I know you have ADHD, so you absolutely hate interruptions. And so do I, but sister’s got to pay the bills. So just give me one minute of your time to tell you about my brand new website. I have adhd.com on it. You’ll find a psychologist approved, comprehensive list of adult ADHD symptoms and lots and lots of support.

If you’re feeling lost, overwhelmed. The scattered misunderstood. This is the place for you. I would love for you to check it out. And I really, really hope that it’s helpful to you now back to the show. The second reason why I absolutely love ordering my groceries online is that I rarely forget. Important items instead of having [00:17:00] to look through my pantry or fridge before I go to the grocery store, right.

All of my items on a list. And then having to remember to take the list to the store with me, instead of that, I’m looking through my pantry and my fridge and adding it to my cart in my kitchen, in my sweatpants. I mean, it really cuts down on the margin for error. As far as forgetting the things that I need.

Number three, it’s a major, major time saver. So because I’m me, I often time myself ordering groceries to see how fast I can do it. 11 minutes is my time to be. That’s right folks. I can order $200 with a groceries for a family of five in 11 minutes. And it’s usually on my couch and I’m usually wearing my pajamas.

Number four. There are no temper tantrums involved. If you’re a parent. Your child has definitely thrown a [00:18:00] temper tantrum in a grocery store. Your kids have begged you for every sugary item in every single eye aisle. Your precious little angels have talked to you, incessantly about Pokemon or Minecraft or Mario while you’ve been trying to decide on which bow tie pasta to be.

I mean, just shut up and let me show, I love my kids so much. They’re adorable. But as an adult with ADHD, grocery shopping with children is torture, but now my kids can just climb into the car. A lot of times they’re not even wearing shoes and we can pick up the groceries in about 15 minutes door to door.

Now here’s a pro tip. There are also stores that will deliver your groceries for you and actually bring them into your kitchen. I have not gone that far yet, but I feel like that day is coming and I’m so excited for it. Okay. The last reason why I think it’s amazing to order groceries online is that there are way fewer [00:19:00] impulse buys.

Online ordering has cut way, way, way back on my impulse buys at the grocery store. As someone with ADHD to walk through the aisles of the grocery store, impulsive distractible, it’s really difficult to stick to your list, but now. Do anything, but go off my weekly groceries list and I order what we need and I order what I want, but I’m not walking through the baking aisle and randomly thinking, oh, brownies.

And then putting five boxes of brownies into my car. When I probably already have three boxes in my pants. Also when I go to check out online, I can see exactly how much it’s going to cost before I place the order. You know how you’re standing in the grocery line and the cashier is ringing up all of your items and you’re just watching that number go up.

And as those five boxes of brownies go across the [00:20:00] beeper, you know, the scanner thing, you’re thinking. Was I thinking, I can’t believe that I’m spending so much money. I can’t believe that I got five boxes of brownies. And then you’re so tempted to say, oh, I don’t need that. But then you don’t want to cause a scene.

There is none of that involved with online ordering. So if I see that I’ve gone over my budget, I can take out unnecessary items out of my cart. And it’s not a big deal. I can watch the number go up. And go down and I can spend exactly how much I want to. That has changed my life so much. If you are not ordering your groceries online, I highly, highly, highly recommend it.

Now. Yes, there will be some set up time and effort and energy and. If you need me to coach you through it, I would love to do it. Reach out to me on Instagram. I have ADHD podcast. I would absolutely love to talk you through this [00:21:00] and boss you around and make you order your groceries online because I’m telling you it has changed everything.

It’s changed everything for me. And I want that for you too. Okay. One other thing that has really, really helped me this year now, um, I will say that this week I have not stuck to this at all, but in general, I’ve chosen one day a week to grocery shop and that is it. I am done making multiple trips to the grocery store.

I’m a working mom of three, who also happens to have friends and hobbies, and I don’t have time or desire to make a bunch of trips to the grocery store choosing one day a week and sticking to it has really, really helped me. So now every Wednesday I order groceries first thing in the morning and I pick them up sometime during the day that works for my schedule.

If I forget something important, I can call the grocery store and have them. [00:22:00] To my list, but if I forget something important after I’ve already picked up the groceries, I don’t care. We’re going to live without it, or I’ll get it at target over the weekend. Or I’ll ask my husband to pick it up on his way home from work setting this boundary.

Self of grocery shopping just once a week has really, really helped me because I take it more seriously. And it’s also helped me hate it less. I’m only doing it once a week. I’m not having to make multiple trips to the store because I have better things to do than grocery shop. And so do you, so if we forget something, we can go without it.

We’re going to be fine. Now, if you can’t order your groceries online, I am so sorry. Again, I highly recommend moving to an area where you can grocery shop online [00:23:00] so you could move to my neighborhood and we could be. And that would make your life. First of all, a lot more fun, cause we could be friends, but then second of all, it would make your life a lot easier because you would be able to order your groceries online.

So I highly recommend moving to my neighborhood, but if you can’t move and you have to stay in your neighborhood, here are the things that you need to do. Now, again, this is do, as I say, not as I do, these are. Things that I have mastered. These are things that I know we should do, and that I really try to do when I can’t order online.

Here are the things that I try to do. Number one, choose one day to shop. That’s it. You have better things to do with your life. Then make multiple trips to the. Number two, create a master list. This is not a weekly, you know, like the list that you take to the store, this is a word doc list. It’s a [00:24:00] master list of the things that you get every single week, whether you realize it or not, we all usually do buy mostly the same food over and over and over.

So save yourself the time and energy and decision-making and create a master list. Number three plan, a few dinners for the week. I have not found success with this at all, but my friend, Liz, if you look her up on Instagram, she’s at healthy ADHD. She’s amazing at this. And she has like an ebook that you can buy to help you out with it.

Plan three or four dinners for the week. Okay. Now number four, make a list while you’re in front of your fridge and pantry. This is key because a lot of times, um, I will try to make a list like while I’m waiting at the doctor’s office or something like that, but I don’t remember what we actually have. So make your list when you’re in front of your [00:25:00] pantry, when you’re in front of your fridge and you can actually assess the situation and know what’s going on.

Okay. Number five. Don’t forget the list. Do. Okay. Put the list next to your keys, put it in your purse, put it in your wallet. Don’t forget the list. Number six, grocery shop with your list. Like I know that, that seems very simple, but it’s not because you remember the list, but then it’s like, oh, it’s in my purse.

It’s under, already, you know, 15 groceries. I think I remember what’s on there. No, no, no, no, no grocery shop with your list in your hand. Number seven before you head to the checkout line, take a moment to stop and think park your little cart in a little corner and stop to review your list. Go over everything.

Make sure you didn’t forget anything. Check to see if you have impulse buys in your cart that you should take out [00:26:00] and stick on a random grocery shelf hiding behind like the bread, which I would never do. I would never do. But seriously, if you have impulse buys in your cart, take them out. Now, once you have completed the task, you’ve grocery shopped, the groceries are in your pantry.

Here’s what you need to do. And this is probably the most important thing. Go have a margarita. Because you don’t have to do this again for seven days. You did it. You’re a champion. Okay. So number eight is really, really important. Go have yourself a little treat you need to build in that blast of domain.

Okay. It doesn’t have to be alcohol because yes, we have highly addictive personalities. So maybe it could be, you’re going to watch your favorite TV show after you do your groceries every week, or you’re going to call your favorite friend, or you’re going to listen to your favorite podcast or you’re going to whatever.

Once you’ve completed the [00:27:00] task build in a reward. Okay. Here’s the truth. We are lucky. To have money to spend on food, to eat. I am so lucky to be able to complain about this, and I acknowledge that I’m so lucky that my kids have full bellies and that I don’t have to worry about where our next meal is coming from.

According to the world health organization, 815 million. Are hungry today while you’re listening to this. And most of them are children. So we have a lot to be thankful for. Let’s take a little bit of time and acknowledge how much we have to be thankful for. As your blood pressure rises, thinking of meal planning and list-making and grocery shopping.

Remember to be grateful, we are so blessed. We can implement systems in our lives to make them easier, and we can be [00:28:00] thankful and grateful every day for the resources that we have. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen today. It means the world to me, if grocery shopping is something that you hate and that you struggled.

Reach out to me, I would love to commiserate with you. Have a great day.

It may seem weird to you that I asked for rating and reviews every single episode, but here’s the deal. There is no immediate gratification feedback or reward for podcasting. It is a really, really hard project. It has 732 steps that I have to do, and it is mundane and it is detail oriented and it’s really hard.

Only thing that I ask is for a tiny, tiny shot of dopamine, to know that it’s making a difference. So let me know if you like it, rate the podcast, review it, take a screenshot of what you listened to and tag me on Instagram. I would [00:29:00] totally die. Thank you so much for that daily dose of dopamine by.

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