Two scenarios. Which would you rather do?
A) You will sit in a chair for an hour and receive instruction on how to change your diet. This will most likely be given by a dietitian who tells you what food groups to choose from, but does not give you a vast selection of choices. It’s common for dietitians to not “walk their talk;” they do not cook regularly; they do not pay attention to, or know, the ingredients in their food (particularly the added sugar… hello, flavored yogurts!). The next day, you need to go grocery shopping and you don’t know if what you are buying is aligned with your prescribed diet. No one is there to help you. You may think you are confined to chicken breast, veggies, fish and flaxseed. You’re a little scared to buy anything else because the dietitian didn’t mention what salad dressings were healthy, what fish to buy (say no to farm-raised fish), or to look for corn syrup in canned soup (it’s there).
Or does the scenario below sound more appealing?
B) You will be taken into the grocery store, where you can learn on-the-spot what to put in your cart. You’ll be led by a dietitian who is an expert in food ingredients, label reading, food selection for specific nutrition goals (diabetes, fat-loss, healthy eating), and creative, easy cooking. You can show her what you would normally buy and learn why (or why not) you should buy that specific food. It’s very personalized, very engaging, and (depending on how much you like the grocery store) very fun!
Nearly 100 people have gone on my grocery store tours in the last two years. Everyone LOVES the tours.
- “I can eat so many more things than I thought.”
- “You gave me a lot of ideas for new meals.”
- “Added sugar is in so many things. I never would have known to look for it in some of those foods.” (42 grams of added sugar in a jar of JiF peanut butter?!)
- “I thought I was supposed to just read the Nutrition Fact Panel. Now I know the Ingredient list is more important, and I know what to look for.”
- “Wow. This is really eye-opening.”
People leave the tours with wonderment, knowledge, preparedness, awareness and discernment. How many people leave a sit-down nutrition consultation feeling like this?
Grocery Store Tours for Diabetes Education
Last month, I gave a tour to a couple from Texas. The husband was recently diagnosed with diabetes with an hgbA1c of 13. This translates to an average blood sugar of over 350. That is enormously high. The couple was traveling to Illinois a few weeks later and their friend David, who had been trying to set up a tour with me for weeks, e-mailed me with an urgent request. The next day, I took his friends Bruce and Paula on a grocery store tour. I taught them how to shop so they could control his diabetes, and also gave him additional diabetes education (like carbohydrate counting).
They were blown away with the tour and extra motivated to change the way they eat. Bruce now knows how many carbohydrates to consume if he is going to have a treat. Rather than saying treats are off-limits, I advise eating sweets sparingly and provide a range of carbohydrates.
Their friend David and his wife came with me on a tour last night. You can find David’s testimonial here.
I have a diverse background in nutrition, dietetics and food. Coming from the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University (the only independent School of Nutrition in the country), I learned about the various aspects of nutrition including food and agriculture policy, food science and health communication. I have worked in various aspects of food service for 17 years. I worked for a nutrition profiling company called NuVal for two years, where I learned what ingredients are in thousands of foods. Trader Joe’s has been my only place to shop since 2007, and I’ve been working there since September 2010. I give “mini” grocery store tours all the time to customers concerned about food quality and food ingredients.
If you are interested in setting up a tour, please send me a message. In January, a videographer will be taping one of my tours so I can give you all a glimpse of the fun!