Supermarket dietitians help consumers make healthy choices
During the past few years, many supermarket chains have hired registered dietitians to assist shoppers in selecting foods that provide healthier, more nutritional meals for their families.
Grocery chains such as Hy-Vee, Kroger, Giant-Eagle, H-E-B, Bashas' and Meijer have invested in having dietitians in their stores and have seen immediate interest from their customers.
Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian and contributing editor at Today's Dietitian, listed 10 areas of consulting services to help shoppers make a healthy selection at their favorite grocery store, which can make a big difference for their families.
1. Teach people how to cook: Nobody knows better how important it is to get people cooking properly than supermarket dietitians. They provide cooking demonstrations and cooking classes, and develop healthy recipes and website resources.
2. Teach people how to read labels: Supermarket dietitians help consumers understand nutrition labels through in-store education, brochures, published articles, website resources and adopting nutrition scoring systems.
3. Increase fruit and vegetable consumption: The produce section is dietitians' favorite part of the grocery store, and they work to educate consumers on the value and benefits of adding more fruits and vegetables in their diets. This is accomplished with visual store displays and cooking programs that include produce.
4. Manage food allergies: With the rise in food-related allergies, one of the most important services of dietitians is providing guidance on food sensitivities. They also educate supermarket staff about food allergy awareness and the importance of thoroughly reading labels.
5. Media wellness coverage: Many supermarket dietitians are media-savvy and well-trained for television or radio spots, social media, blogs and author publications. The supermarkets include the benefits and advantages of having on-site dietitians at their stores in their ads, weekly flyers, and television and radio spots.
6. Teaching kids about nutrition: Dietitians place a high emphasis on child nutrition, and many stores let each child pick one piece of fruit or vegetable for free. They also provide store tours for kids to explain the benefits of including fruits and vegetables in their diets and point out foods to avoid.
7. Dispense valuable nutrition information: Supermarket dietitians publish monthly brochures highlighting nutritional benefits of a particular fruit or vegetable in their diet, provide websites offering specifics on nutrition values, teach healthy cooking suggestions and promote basic wellness programs.
8. Promote wellness programs: Dietitians have created full wellness programs fully packaged and ready for immediate use. They also assist supermarket staff in diet, exercise and specific wellness programs, and work closely with the in-store pharmacy on related nutrition issues dealing with diabetes and high blood pressure management.
9. Make connections in the food systems: Supermarket dietitians are keenly aware of the local food trends and provide valuable insight into beneficial trends and those to avoid. Some connect the local farmers and shoppers and the advantages of buying local.
10. Image of the Registered Dietitian: The role of the supermarket dietitian has continued to evolve in value to consumers and store staff on the importance of nutrition, wellness programs and healthy diets.