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May 25, 2018

Shop and Learn with a Dietitian at Loblaws

When it comes to healthy eating, there is an abundance of information out there. And it seems everywhere you turn, there is a new strategy, plan, routine, or lifestyle encouraging another diet or meal plan. Even when you're well versed in the topic, which I believe I am, it's still quite confusing and often misleading. And here's the caveat: no two people are alike, so no two diets are exactly alike. 

Healthy eating is so individual, it's best everyone knows and understands what works best for themselves.

Loblaws stores have in-store Registered Dietitians to educate consumers and provide personalised nutrition advice and help plan healthy meals that everyone will enjoy. Many Loblaws, Zehrs and Independent stores across the country offer these dietitian services, and for a small fee, you receive one-on-one advice while grocery shopping. 

Earlier this month, I took a visit to a Loblaws store in Richmond Hill, where I met Judy, and together we went shopping, discussing my needs, and the needs of my family (since I'm the primary meal maker). We compared products and came up with meal and snack ideas, as well as how to make better choices in a pinch. 

Let's see how much I remembered!

We started off in the vast produce section, where Judy reminded me to aim to fill half a plate with fruits and veggies (two open hands) for every meal. Choose brightly coloured non-starchy vegetables, like dark green, leafy ones and whole fruits over juices, including the peels as much as possible. 

Great snacks my family already enjoys include berries (especially raspberries since they're highest in fibre), grape tomatoes, kiwi fruit (which you can eat the peel!). To boost your energy, it's important to balance your meals and snacks with protein and fibre (carbohydrates) together to stay full, i.e. apple slices with a small handful of nuts. 

Loblaws is already making shopping easier by taking out a lot of the guesswork with the Guiding Stars Program. Foods that have 2 and 3 stars are foods you can consume every day, and products with 0 or 1 star are "sometimes" foods.

More staples to add to your diet: ginger and garlic. Full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, garlic and ginger also add depth of flavour to your meals, so you don't feel compelled to load up on the sodium. 

If you don't use enough of it fresh, garlic and ginger also come in convenient squeeze bottles, which, Judy tells me, work just as well. That's good to know, because I don't buy ginger ALL that often, but I always seem to want recipes that call for that delicious root!

Wild, farmed, fresh, frozen. Seafood is often a confusing zone of the supermarket, but it's so good for you. Fatty fish like salmon and trout add those good omegas to your body -- perfect for your brain. Looking for the Certified Sustainable Seafood designation is one way to know the fish you're eating was properly caught. Judy suggests at least 2 servings of fatty fish per week. 

The bakery isn't a section I visit often, but it's a good practice to remember to choose whole grains over white, with at least 2g of fibre per slice. The more fibre food has, the more your body breaks it down.

My favourite section of Loblaws/Fortinos stores has got to be the Natural Value (aka healthy organic) section. I could spend a day in this zone, looking at all the products and labels. It's important, here, to still look at all product labels and analyse the sugar content, proteins, fibres and sodium. 

The general rule, Judy explains, is to look at the Daily Value (DV) Percentage. 5% of a daily value is considered low, while 15% of a daily value is considered high. The goal, for me at least, is to keep the sugars and sodium down, while keeping the protein and fibre up. 

PC Blue Menu products often offer higher protein or higher fibre options. And this is where it's so important to read labels carefully -- take note of the portion size, as well as the sugars (cause that stuff gets hidden in everything!)

Even in the healthy section, it's important to read those product labels. Just because it's "natural" doesn't mean it doesn't have a lot of sugar, and that goes for "sugar-free" products, too. Kombucha, probiotic yogurts and fermented foods are good for you, just watch that sugar and sodium!

There's lots to discover in the dry goods aisles including many, many different types of legumes: lentils, beans, peas -- dried and canned. It's also the spot where temptation may set in with the cookies and snacks and treats that pass themselves off as healthy when they're not. 

Granola bars are a big culprit, says Judy. Aim for at least 4 g of fibre and less than 8g of sugar per serving. I'm not surprised that my fave Kind bars fit perfectly in the safe zone -- loaded with great protein and fibre. 

And cereal! Can we talk cereal?! Well, I don't even eat cereal, but my hubby and kids go through boxes at a time. Obviously, the boxes with the cute, colourful characters are super sweet, but even the plain ol' boring cereal needs some attention. To the label, that is. 

This is THE place to look at portion sizes, Judy warns, as it's a place many people get fooled! 

Following our tour of the supermarket, Judy even sent me reminders for the next time I go grocery shopping solo, which is perfect because there was a LOT of information! 

As I mentioned earlier, even though I feel pretty educated when it comes to food and making the right choices for my family, there is ALWAYS more to learn, and now I feel that much smarter after taking a trip around Loblaws with a dietitian. It's another great reminder to be mindful of the food I'm putting in my cart before I put it in my (or my family's) tummies. 

For more information on the Loblaws Dietitians program, visit, or if you’re local, schedule an appointment with Judy by emailing her at

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. As always, the opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

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