I’ve partnered with Stop & Shop in bring you this blog post. As always, thank you for supporting CNC!
You guys know how much I love grocery shopping, right? There’s just something about cruising through the aisles, pursuing the shelves, and discovering new healthy products that makes it such an enjoyable time for me. Is it possible to love grocery shopping too much? 🙂 But, if you’re new to healthy eating, grocery shopping might just be the opposite. There are a lot of choices, including tons of seemly healthy products with all sorts of claims on them – everything from low-fat to sugar-free to reduced sodium to cholesterol free. Grocery shopping can be really overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for.
Stop & Shop is helping customers eat healthier and save time grocery shopping with a nutrition navigation program called Guiding Stars. Guiding Stars aims to take the guesswork out of nutrition by decoding labels into one clear rating that is easy to see while shopping. Instead of numbers, the Guiding Stars rating uses stars, which are consistent with national policies including Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. Here’s how the rating system works:
- 1 star means an item has GOOD nutritional value
- 2 stars mean an item has BETTER nutritional value
- 3 stars mean an item has THE BEST nutritional value
If no Guiding Stars symbol is shown, the item is either not nutritionally recommended, new to the program and hasn’t been rated yet, is less than five calories (such as water or tea), is a dietary supplement, medical food, such as baby formula, or the product does not have nutrition information available.
Label reading can be intimidating and time-consuming, so the Guiding Stars program is a simple way to provide clear answers and speed up the grocery shopping process. Even in the most rushed situations (i.e. shopping with a crying baby), you have the tools you need at Stop & Shop to quickly identify the food attributes that are important to you. It makes decisions easier, especially when standing in the cereal or bread aisle where there are so many choices and so many health claims on each of the items!
I had the opportunity to interview Julie Hersey, Stop & Shop’s Registered Dietitian, about Guiding Stars and how the program can help shoppers make informed, healthy choices, but also about her background as a dietitian. My ultimate goal – probably not until Quinn is a bit older – is to go to school for nutrition, so I’m obsessed with all things related to Registered Dietitians. Is that creepy? But, seriously, I love talking to people who know about nutrition, so this interview was especially cool for me – and I really loved her response to my last question! 🙂 Read on to see what she has to say!
Why did you become a Registered Dietitian?
I love food, learning new things and helping people, so nutrition was a natural path. I was introduced to the topic of micronutrients in an elective biochemistry course in high school which made me look at the function of food in a different way. I love that nutrition knowledge can be practiced and applied to everyday life. Being a Registered Dietitian allows me to share my passion to improve health with others. It is my goal to make nutrition easy to understand and part of everyday habits.
What’s your favorite part about working as a dietitian for Stop & Shop?
My favorite part about being a retail dietitian is that the grocery store is my office. I can spend hours walking the store exploring the assortment of current and new products, trends, innovations. Recently, I have begun to help handpick products for snack racks and recipes for “smoothies of the month”. I love to help people discover new products to enhance their lives, and to share healthy secrets and shopping tips for the grocery store!
If a customer is new to the Guiding Stars program, what should they do first?
You should know that all fruits and vegetables earn at least one ‘star’ so you should make your first stop the produce department!
Guiding Stars rates foods using credits and debits for nutrients. The more stars, the more nutrients a food provides per 100 calories. Before you add an item to you cart, look to see if it has the Guiding Stars icon. You will be surprised to see that many of the foods on your weekly list earn ‘stars’. Each time you shop, look to add more products with even more stars to your cart.
What food item(s) surprised you most with regard to its Guiding Stars rating?
I was pleasantly surprised that ‘salty & sweet snacks’ like popcorn, baked potato chips and granola bars meet criteria to earn ‘stars’. You will find these items are lower in added sodium, saturated and trans fatty acids and are higher in vitamins and minerals. Many manufacturers have altered their recipes to use healthier oils or other ingredients and limit sodium thereby making their product a more nutritious choice.
What’s something about the Guiding Stars program that most customers might not know?
That it really works – the introduction of nutrition ratings helps shoppers buy a more nutritious mix of products and choose items with less fat and sugar, and more fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
What’s your favorite kitchen or recipe hack?
Cooking eggs in the microwave. Beat eggs, chopped veggies and herbs in a microwave safe mug or bowl. Cook on high for about 45 seconds, stir and add a pinch of cheese (optional). Microwave another 45 seconds until cooked thoroughly. Let partially cool and add other toppings like hot sauce, avocado, or kimchi and enjoy!
What’s your go-to recipe for a quick and healthy dinner?
Turkey tacos – we use our Nature’s Promise Free From ground turkey and add corn and black beans for more fiber and protein. I love to mix beans or chopped mushrooms into ground meat recipes to cut down on cost per portion and add more plant-based protein. My favorite part of tacos is offering tons of colorful toppings – avocado, scallions, salsa, chopped sweet bell peppers, thinly sliced radish, hot sauce, etc. I always double the recipe to repurpose into other weeknight meals like taco salad, quesadillas, nachos and chili.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
I love variety and keep a handful of go-to weekday breakfast options to pick from depending on my mood, schedule and what’s in the fridge. Today was a “leftover” veggie scramble using my microwave egg method and close-to-expired veggies that I had on hand (cherry tomatoes, broccoli, scallions and avocado). Protein-rich and filling!
If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Question of the Day
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?