Share The Health

Make Grocery Shopping Work for You


Have you ever found yourself wandering the aisles of the grocery store trying to make healthy choices only to find that some products that claim to be “healthy” contain high amounts of sodium, sugar, trans fats or saturated fats?

The challenge can be even greater for those who have been advised by their doctors to follow specific dietary instructions to prevent the reoccurrence of a major health event like a heart attack or stroke, or to manage their diabetes.

To help these patients, members of Frederick Memorial Hospital’s Care Transitions team, along with registered FMH dietitians, lead helpful grocery store tours. The tours are specifically designed for patients who want to improve their health through better nutrition and each tour is specifically tailored to a specific topic, audience, or health condition.

Members of Frederick’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community recently attended a tour at a local Weis Market led by registered dietitian Emily Spear. As the group made their way up and down the aisles, Emily would stop at various products to point out the potential pitfalls in certain labeling, such as salad dressings labeled as “low-fat” that are loaded with extra sodium and sugar.

Along the way, she also took questions from the tour participants on topics such as the nutritional value of fresh versus canned vegetables. “If you rinse canned vegetables it will eliminate some of the extra sodium,” she explained. “Cans labeled ‘No Added Salt’ or ‘Low Sodium’ can be as nutritious as fresh vegetables, too.”

For Dawn Watts, who is an active advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing community and who also suffers from heart disease, the tour was informative and much-needed for her and other members of her community. “Both of my parents had heart attacks and my doctor has told me I have high cholesterol as well, so I'm trying to follow his orders, but it can be hard because there aren’t a lot of resources or information for people in the deaf world.”

With the help of an American Sign Language interpreter, Dawn and the other tour members benefitted from Emily's tips on how to make better food choices; such as choosing brown rice over white rice, since brown rice is higher in fiber and more nutrient-dense than white rice.

Pam Niziolek wanted to know more about how to prevent Type 2 diabetes and attended a tour specifically targeted toward that topic. “I had been trying to watch my carbohydrates and the tour was really helpful in showing us how to shop, and where to look on the labels for things like additional salt or sugar,” she said. “It definitely made me more aware of what I should be watching for.”

Pam is now trying to incorporate more whole grain pasta and different grains into her diet, and is also using her spiralizer to make veggie noodles. “We are all creatures of habit,” she said, noting that she tends to prepare the same foods, the same way. She appreciated that the tour showed her how to try different foods or make creative substitutions that can “spice things up” while also helping her eat healthy.

If you would like to be notified of upcoming grocery store tours, or are a member of a community group that would like to schedule a group tour, contact or call 240-549-2053.

Download Healthy Eating Supermarket Guidelines

Download a Diabetes-Friendly Supermarket Roadmap

Download a Salt-conscious Shopping List - Safeway

Download a Salt-conscious Shopping List - Weis