As a retail dietitian, I work with all my customers, including my littlest shoppers. These are the guests that are often the most excited to see what nutritious message—and of course snack—I’m able to share with them. Even the very youngest, who remind me of their age by holding their three or four small fingers chat with me and absorb my carefully crafted guidance. These little friends who are quick to show me that they know how to count to three are most excited when I show them the little green cartoon that can also only count to three.
We often say that using Guiding Stars is so easy that even a three-year-old can do it and I’m reminded almost daily that this isn’t just a saying, but truth. Sure, they may not understand that when they use the Guiding Stars to navigate their way through the supermarket that they are reducing their sodium intake and getting in more omega fats, but they certainly know how to look for the stars and get more rated items into their shopping cart.
When Guiding Stars is your shopping partner there are many messages that go beyond just looking for stars that even our youngest shoppers benefit from.
It’s all about balance.
Guiding Stars is not about having a perfectly “starry” cart. Rather, when we seek Guiding Star rated foods, we make room for some “not so starry” foods. Take the parfait I made with a Daisy Girl Scout troop the other day. We layered calcium-rich yogurt with star-rated granola, nuts, chia seeds, and blueberries. The yogurt, however, was a no-star vanilla flavored Greek yogurt as it was apparent that this crew was not favoring the star-rated plain option. We made sure to discuss that sometimes the goal of our food choices is to create an overall beautifully balanced snack, which of course we had done.
Nature has your back.
When I’m teaching kids about Guiding Stars, we always start in the produce section. After all, it’s the “starriest” spot in the store! Seeing all the colorful fruits and vegetables reminds our children of the great nutrition that can come straight from nature and why we should eat our fruits and veggies every day. Even my very youngest customers are thrilled to show me what they pick out from the produce department at each shopping trip.
Wait, what?! No stars?
Indeed, some of the older children I encounter at the store are surprised when they realize that their favorite granola bar, bread, cereal, or drink doesn’t earn a Guiding Star. Of course, with my upper elementary and older shoppers we can analyze and compare the nutrition facts panels on different packages. This brief education, which results in a small change in their shopping cart, becomes just one more part of their wellness.
Take small steps to big change.
This brings me to my last point, which is that all of us, including our kids, should be on journey toward living our healthiest life. When we make small changes to our shopping that result in more nutrient rich foods being in our cart we are positively progressing on that journey. If today only a few items in your cart earn stars, then maybe tomorrow a few more can.
Here are a few more ways to bring Guiding Stars messages to life:
- Help your child choose a Guiding Star rated recipe. Shop for and cook the ingredients together.
- Plan a snack with your young shopper, such as a trail mix, and let them choose the star-rated ingredients to bring it together.
- Do a Guiding Stars scavenger hunt! Challenge yourself and your young shopper to locate star-rated items in unlikely places such as the frozen food section, among the canned goods, marinades, or even the chip aisle. While you may not have items from these sections on your weekly list, it’s nice to know there are star-rated options when you do need them.