Shopping Tour for Blood Pressure

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Customizing Grocery Store Tours for High Blood Pressure

As a Registered Dietitian you have the expertise to customize a grocery store tour for any disease state. While you can provide the typical 101 “How to Shop for Good Health”, consider the impact you will make by narrowing your focus. For example, I have taught grocery store tours on how to eliminate gluten, lower cholesterol, eat Mediterranean, nourish pregnancy and lower blood pressure. Each of these sessions includes these key components: an overview of how proper food purchases, preparation and portions can improve health outcomes, label reading basics, the tour itself, recipes, coupons and a listing of local restaurants that cater to the individual’s dietary requirements.

I even had a dietetic intern, Michelle Marvin, soon to be R.D., put together a simulated stroll through the grocery store using PowerPoint. I use her guide for worksite wellness lunch and learn or for groups who want to learn practical tips in a more private setting. For example, the canned food aisle slide demonstrates that fresh is best when it comes to sodium, then frozen, and consider low sodium canned vegetables over their regular counterparts. In the condiment aisle not only did she create a slide that identified the sodium content of various sauces, but she choose to illustrate that even when you reduce and even eliminate the fat in many dressings, the sodium remains high. We also used these slides as a script where we videotaped Michelle giving a simulated grocery store tour on tape.

No grocery store tour is complete without reviewing the importance of each participant’s need to reduce their consumption of processed foods. If we look at the major sources of sodium in the U.S. diet:

  • 77% of sodium intake is contributed by processed foods
  • 12% from fresh foods
  • 6% salt added at the table
  • 5% salt added during cooking

A good aisle to have this discussion in is the frozen dinner or canned soup aisles where many of the single servings easily reach two-thirds of the Adequate Intake (AI) for sodium. As a Registered Dietitian you can confidently identify the produce (potassium) and low fat diary (calcium) as blood pressure friendly aisles.

Customized grocery store tours are a great way to attract new clients and improve the health of your community. Consider marketing your tour to local cardiology, OBGYN, or gastroenterology physician practice groups to grow your business. They are easy to do, very engaging and the feedback is great!

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