As a retail dietitian, I have the unique opportunity to interact with over 200 customers per week. Despite having so many conversations, I find that there are three major themes that generally come up when it comes to helping individuals attain better nutrition. Here are the top three challenges I see people facing…and, of course, my advice for overcoming them.
It is easy to see how the goals of eating better, living healthier and reaching an ideal body weight can get complicated quickly. After all, when it comes to nutrition, everyone thinks they’re a nutrition expert. There are so many “cooks in the kitchen” in the form of TV shows, magazines, endless books and of friends that have always “just read or saw” something you have to try. I suggest seeking sound advice from the right resources such as www.choosemyplate.gov, www.guidingstars.com and www.eatright.org. These trustworthy websites don’t emphasize “today’s trend,” but rather focus on the right, tried and true advice.
Forgetting that the supermarket is an industry…with a bottom line
When I am working with customers, the supermarket, and the thousands and thousands of products found in it, is my backdrop. This provides an outstanding teachable moment for the individuals I work with, especially those who are shopping for foods to help them meet their health goals. The first thing I remind them is that the front of the package, which is what you see as you walk down the aisle, is “owned” by the manufacturer. This means that they can use this space to sell you the product. Of course, there is FDA regulation on certain terms, such as “low sodium” or “light” but, there is a lot of opportunity for a company to encourage you to purchase their products. The company doesn’t know what your personal goals are…they just want you to choose them. Watch this space…changes are coming as the FDA looks at front of package labeling and how to help customers navigate the supermarket. In the mean time, use Guiding Stars to lead you toward the foods you should be choosing…not the ones the manufacturer wants you to buy.
Thinking we’re making nutrition a priority when we aren’t
No doubt, one of the most common perceived barriers to adopting healthier habits that I see is that people think they are focusing on their health and wellness but, in fact, health and wellness doesn’t make their top three priorities for the day. This is illustrated through lack of gym time, nonexistent meal planning and just generally not carving out time for self care. After all, without a plan to get to the gym and prepare a healthful meal, it is very easy to have a day filled with errands, phone calls, emails and more. The common result is the guilt of knowing they should do something but no action toward achieving their goal. My advice? Start your day by taking care of you, whether it is hitting the gym or chopping vegetables for that night’s dinner. Make meeting your goal your first action and it is likely to become a priority for your day.
Did you enjoy this post? Read Alli’s post on Sometimes Foods.