One of my favorite aspects of Guiding Stars is when I am standing in the grocery store aisle deciding what to buy; I can look at all the crackers, for example, and compare them all by star value, regardless of brand, manufacturer or price. The other day I wanted to choose more nutritious crackers to have in the pantry at home. I know that some crackers can be made from refined white flour with little whole grain or fiber and can be high in fat and salt. I have teenage daughters who are physically active and even though I know that nature’s best snacks are fruits and vegetables (2 & 3 star foods!), sometimes we choose to have crackers and other snack foods on hand as well. So, I am looking at the array of crackers and checking the shelf tags for the presence and number of Guiding Stars. At the same time, I am also comparing prices. Most importantly, I must admit, I am checking to see if any of our favorite yummy crackers get any stars. Lo and behold, the reduced-fat version of one of our family’s favorite whole grain crackers gets 2 stars! With confidence, I snatch up a box and place it in my shopping cart.
As a Registered Dietitian, I know how to read the Nutrition Facts panel, and I do spend time doing this while shopping, especially when choosing new or different items. I can use what I learn both for my profession and to make choices for my family. Reading the Nutrition Facts panel at the supermarket does take time, and I believe it also takes some skill and training. As part of keeping up with nutrition information for my profession, I will go to the grocery store with a pad and pen when I am not shopping for groceries, just to learn about new products. With Guiding Stars, I know that much of the work of deciphering the Nutrition Facts panel and the ingredients list has been done for me. I can now use Guiding Stars to quickly and easily choose the most nutritious foods for my family, those with one star–good, two stars–better, or three stars–best nutritional value. I am proud to serve on the Scientific Advisory Panel for Guiding Stars, knowing that I have been part of creating a useful tool to help consumers choose more nutritious foods and beverages.