Weight Management: Partner with Your Local Grocery Store
An extremely effective way to get the healthy lifestyle message across to members is to have your nutritionists or registered dietitians partner with grocery stores to conduct shopping tours. During grocery store tours members can gain hands-on experience in how to make healthy food choices when grocery shopping. Setting up tours and partnering with grocery stores is not difficult. This post will walk you through how to do so to accentuate members’ experiences.
First off, you must identify which grocery store you would like to approach. This should be done two to three months in advance because it might take a while to get things set in motion. If your choice is part of a chain, you should request approval from the corporate office. Otherwise you can go directly to the store you choose. As part of your request you should mention the need for a meeting place at the beginning of a tour, be it the main entrance or a meeting room. You might even explore the possibility for refreshments, snacks and coupons to be provided by the grocery store.
In order to market this event you should develop an event flyer to be distributed via email or by posting around your facility. A sign-up sheet is also essential in order to accurately account for how many participants will attend the event. Plan for 10 to 15 people per tour; more than 15 people will block supermarket aisles. You can recruit more people than the expected number since some members tend to not show up on the day of the event.
Developing your grocery store tour should involve activities, a grocery checklist, home tip sheets and recipes. In the past I’ve included handouts on grocery shopping tips and label reading rules. A tour script is also a good idea to ensure that you cover every topic you want to get across. There are several activities that you can include during the tour. Here are some examples that I’ve used in the past:
- Compare different products by reading food labels, looking for high sodium, high saturated fat, etc.
- Address ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and sweeteners.
- Identify whole grains.
- Discuss recent food trends, such as gluten-free products.
Plan to conduct the tour between one and two hours. After the tour, be sure to send a thank you letter to the grocery store. It is also a good idea to keep your members engaged by sending them follow-up emails including recipes or other handouts pertaining to grocery shopping.
Grocery store tours are a great way to get your members out and observe their behaviors in a real-life setting. They are a great way to tie theory into practice and demonstrate how a member can incorporate healthy lifestyles beyond your office.
Denise Hernandez is a registered dietitian at The Houstonian Club in Houston, Texas. For advice on how to implement weight management or nutrition programs in your club, e-mail her at email@example.com.