The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Healthy Choices for Diabetics

Healthy Choices for Diabetics

Dietitian Dialogues

October 26, 2008

How many carbs are in a sweet potato? What fruits have the most fiber? Is a bagel off limits? Is salmon a healthy choice? What can I eat when I'm really hungry? These are the kinds of questions that registered dietitians are answering in the aisles of Lowes Foods stores for customers with diabetes.

Using the supermarket as a nutrition education classroom, the Diabetes Education Store Tours we developed aim to teach customers simple and practical skills that they can immediately put to use.

Shopping skills we teach include reading the weekly store ad to spark more variety of fruit and vegetable purchases, understanding the posted USDA Nutrition Charts, and exploring food packages and label lingo. After getting some practice with each, tour participants feel more confident to tap into these resources when they return for a personal shopping trip. The payoff of spending one hour in the life-size, nutrition classroom is a healthier shopping cart for diabetes control. Now, who can beat that?

There are a number of learning concepts covered during the Diabetes Education Store Tours and all of them relate to real food and drink. These include basics such as how to interpret a moderate serving size, calorie versus nutrient density, fiber facts, and the ins-and-outs of carbohydrates. Yummy, healthful food samples are popular and they add a kind of memorable depth to the fun learning experience.

At the conclusion of the store tour, participants are sent home with a small, inexpensive folder that holds home recipes, coupons, a resource list for cookbooks, websites and free resources offered by the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) - a partnership of Lowes Foods and Kraft Foods.

Also included for take-home are a shopping list pad and contact card for Lowes Foods' Nutritionist. We keep it simple so as not to overwhelm tour participants. After all, building confidence for their shopping challenge is a top priority.

This program shows an amazing win-win-win for tour participants, RD tour leaders and Lowes Foods. In exit surveys, customer participants rave about the experience and appreciate the effort extended by their local supermarket. Dietitian tour leaders, likewise, rave about the positive experience they have with their customer groups.

Like Lowes Foods' motto, this program is definitely Good For You! The small group, educational store tours are free to customers; however, the learning is priceless for a healthy future.

Cindy Silver has been the Corporate Nutritionist for Lowes Foods for 12 years. She has a B.S. in Biology from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, an M.S. in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Rhode Island and is a registered dietitian. Cindy directs nutrition education for customers of all ages. To learn more about Cindy and her role at Lowes Foods, visit


As a nutritionist working for a supermarket, you have a unique outlook on how retailers are increasing health awareness at the store level and the kind of questions that shoppers ask. Each month, we'll be featuring a guest column, written by a nutritionist, that communicates this point of view on a variety of topics. And we want to hear from you. If you are a supermarket nutritionist interested in sharing your perspective and insights, we would love to help you share your thoughts! Please contact Allison Bloom at