Monday, July 13, 2015

Meet Your Neighbourhood Loblaw's Dietitian! #GuidingStarsCA #PCStars

I've been a PCPlus member for over a year now, and I've shopped at Loblaws and Real Canadian Superstores for ages. And I had no idea they had registered dietitians on-site. Did you? Not every store has them, and maybe that can be my excuse - my Superstore doesn't, for instance - but you can easily find the location of a Loblaws dietitian near you via their website. From the home page, look in the "Health & Wellness" section, and click on Dietitians. Then enter your postal code to find a nearby location. This works the same way on websites for other Loblaws family stores. I checked on the Dominion stores back home in St. John's, and sure enough all three have dietitian services available. I'm going to suggest a visit to my parents while I'm there next month.

Best of all - the dietitian services are all free of charge! You heard me right. You can meet with your local Loblaws dietitian for a personalised nutrition check-up to discuss where you could be making better choices, or even arrange for a store tour and personalised assistance on your shopping trip. And the dietitian can have a look at your Guiding Stars profile with you, to help you understand what it's telling you.

Last week I met with Judy Chodirker, the registered dietitian at Loblaws Bayview Village in North York. We did a store tour, where she explained the Guiding Stars program in detail and helped me compare items within different categories. She discussed how to read nutrition labels and ingredients lists, which are both important on top of the stars, and gave me some good ideas about easing my family into better food choices.

She also taught me a trick to reading the fine print on shelf tags - if an item has no stars, you can confirm if it has been rated or not by looking for "S0" on the tag, under the bar code. One star items have "S1," and etc. This is a great thing to know if you are wondering if perhaps a product is new or didn't meet criteria for rating, or really did rate zero stars.

With the example above we talked about why this vinaigrette would get no stars. In my mind I'd likely go for this one, thinking vinaigrettes are lighter and healthier. On the other hand, the Caesar dressing we always buy, which I always feel guilty for, actually gets one star! Bonus! This is where reading the labels comes in handy - one may have a healthy (unsaturated) oil, while the other has more saturated. Or the sodium content may be higher in one. Did one have added sugar? Yes, this can take a little work, but this kind of investigation will help you make informed choices and will enable you to best use the Guiding Stars in context of your particular health concerns or dietary restrictions.

Judy is also involved in the Cooking School and works with the Pharmacist on special programs, particularly for diabetics, and arranges tours for school and camp groups. You can even talk to her about doing a family nutrition session, including a Guiding Stars scavenger hunt for the kids. She has a workshop running this month as well:

"Eating Right Taste & Learn: Healthy Eating for the Everyday Athlete" 
Get in the Pan Am spirit and get active! Join your In-Store Dietitian to discover some tasty ways to fuel your workout –before and after – for all levels of athletes and wannabes. 
Loblaws Bayview Village - Fri. July 17th, 3-6pm & Tues. July 28th, 1-4pm
Loblaws Empress Market - Mon. July 20th, 3-6pm 

The range of services is great, and this kind of professional advice and guidance could normally be expensive with a private practice dietitian. I'm impressed that Loblaws has a staff person on hand providing free assistance to their shoppers.

Meanwhile, how am I doing with my healthier choices? I'm still a Level 2, but that's partly because we get fresh local produce delivered each Monday, so I don't buy those 3 star products in store as much. But shopping with a dietitian did wonders for my cart that day. 42% of my items had 3 stars this trip! It really helps to have a professional add some personal guidance on top of the in-store system.

What I want you to do now - go to your Loblaws/Superstore/Zehrs/etc., website and see if your regular store has a dietitian on staff, or if there's one nearby. Click through to get their contact info and set up an appointment or inquire about any special services they offer. Shopping the store with your dietitian at your side may seem intimidating, but Judy at least was entirely non-judgmental. Honest! It won't hurt a bit, and you might be surprised what you'll learn. It's free! Why not take advantage.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Loblaws. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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