Grocery store chains offer dietary guidance

LOS ANGELES It's like having your own dietitian go through the aisles with you and turn your grocery list into something healthier.

"You want protein and fiber in your cereals so that you stay full longer in the morning," said dietitian Lori Graff.

Grocery shopping used to be a lonesome affair with consumers navigating the aisles with only their coupons, list and club card. But not anymore. Many markets now have in-store dietitians like Graff for nutritional help.

/*National Grocers Association*/ President and CEO Peter Larkin says a recent survey found 77 percent of shoppers would like their store to offer nutritional services. Groceries are listening with a menu of offerings.

"In-store signage, in-store menus, 1-800 numbers directly to a dietitian," said Larkin.

Some stores have incorporated a point system that rates every food's nutritional value. The higher the number, the more nutrition.

"For a product to actually get a nutrition IQ logo it has to have lower amounts of saturated fat, sodium and sometimes sugar," said Albertsons dietitian Heidi Diller.

Diller doesn't work in one store, but rather, oversees the health aspects for more than 460 Albertsons stores.

"We have things like diabetes tours for adults," said Diller. "Shopping lists for heart disease, for diabetes, for high fiber. I also have a healthy eaters tour for kids."

She knows that products at kids' eye level can be colorful and tempting.

"We broadcast little 30-second health messages every hour on the hour," said Diller.

"I am seeing a trend in the shoppers," said Dee Sandquist, a spokeswoman for the /*American Dietetic Association*/. "They are more educated and have a lot of interest in health."

This is especially true for some shoppers who are dealing with certain medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and gluten sensitivity.

"It's estimated that 62 percent of families today are trying to manage some type of chronic disease," said Diller. "As they look to medical providers for advice, they are looking to the grocery store for nutrition advice now. As you know, food is medicine, right?'

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