Guiding Stars 101

A typical grocery store has about 40,000-50,000 products in it. That’s a lot of food, a lot for your eyes to take in, and a lot for you to choose from. Add to it that as a shopper, you are likely shopping with a “list of wants” right along with your grocery list. You are likely looking for foods that are lower in sodium, rich in heart-healthy fat, possibly with fewer artificial ingredients, and that offer overall beneficial nutrition for you and your family. But all those products…and all those decisions to make. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a shopping partner by your side to help you “weed out” the foods that aren’t aligned with your health goals or not as healthy as they appear to be? Welcome to Guiding Stars, the BFF that helps you do just that.

Guiding Stars easy-to-use star ratings and green, “easy to spot,” shelf tags are here to help you make simple, nutritious choices as you shop in our partner stores. Using a patented algorithm, the Guiding Stars program rates the nutritional quality of food based on the information from the Nutrition Facts Panel and the ingredients list. Foods are rated and receive a score based on the assignment of credits and debits. Guiding Stars crunches the numbers, you munch the healthy foods… it’s that simple.

How do you know when a food earns Guiding Stars?

You’ll see the green tag along with one, two, or three Guiding Stars to let you know if that product is a good, better or best choice for you. You won’t find Guiding Star ratings on coffee, water, spices, or tea because they don’t have enough calories per serving to rate. In addition, Guiding Stars does not rate medical foods such as supplements and baby formula or alcohol. Other than that, if a food doesn’t have a tag hanging below it then it didn’t earn a Guiding Star. This doesn’t make it a bad food, it just means that it offers more of what we’re trying to limit and not quite as many of the positive attributes we want most of our foods to have.

How do you use Guiding Stars in the store?

Let’s pretend you’re in the store looking for a tomato sauce for your family. You reach the aisle to find about 50 options. Suddenly just picking up sauce gets more complicated. This is where you turn to your Guiding Stars shopping partner. Look for the green tags hanging by the unit price tag and you will be led to the options that are lower in salt and added sugar among other positive attributes. Bam, suddenly an overwhelming section is made smaller and more manageable.

Small progressive changes toward bigger goals is best and Guiding Stars is one of those tools to help you work toward those bigger goals. After all, our shopping cart should reflect what we want our diet to look like. If you fill your cart with foods that don’t match you diet intentions, then it’s easy to see why your kitchen won’t be aligned with those goals either. Bottomline is that a healthy home begins with healthy shopping and Guiding Stars is a tool to make that more likely to happen.

There are a few things to know about shopping with Guiding Stars:

  • More stars mean more vitamins, minerals, fiber, whole grain, and omega fats with less saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, added salt, added sugar, and artificial colors.
  • The algorithm used to rate foods is different among the baby and toddler foods or in certain departments to reflect what we are seeking from those foods. For example, star ratings on oils mean that you are getting more heart healthy fat (mono and polyunsaturated), whereas stars on baby foods reflect the saturated fat babies need.
  • Companies can’t buy stars… only earn them by creating foods that are nutrient rich and low in the negative attributes we are seeking to limit or avoid.
  • Guiding Stars is not a natural and organic program. The algorithm has been carefully crafted by a scientific advisory panel of experts and thought leaders in the nutrition field who are focused on scientific links between nutrition and health.
  • It’s also not designed to help individuals who are allergic or sensitive to certain ingredients. It’s still important for these shoppers to closely review the package ingredient list to ensure a product is a safe for them.

The Guiding Stars team is here to answer your questions. Contact us, subscribe to our newsletter, view our webinars and keep up this blog for the latest nutrition news and Guiding Stars updates.