"Shop Smart" tours teach Eau Claire to eat healthier

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Many of us know staying on a 'healthy track' at a grocery store is not an easy task.
But experts say with just a few tips on how to shop ‘smart’ and read food labels anyone can make small steps toward eating better.
Dietitians and nutritionist in our area partnered up with local grocery stores to do just that.

Even with a grocery list in hand and a designated budget somehow snacks and unhealthy food find their way into the shopping cart.

“Now that I have a family and especially now that I have kids I'm really more concerned with what's going into their body, and what exactly is in the ingredients,” explained a mother of two from Eau Claire Cassandra Chase.

Chase says she knew the shopping basics, for examples, the healthier foods being on the outside perimeter of the store.
But says during the "shop smart" tour at Gordy’s County Market many ‘nifty’ shopping tips were an eye opener for her and her husband.

“Stay away from tubes of ground turkey,” she said, “just little things on the label that make it sound healthier than it really is.”

“We went through the bread and cereal aisle and a lot of the stuff says ‘whole wheat’ and ‘whole grain’ but you look at the ingredient list and it actually says ‘enriched’ it doesn't say whole wheat and whole grain,” said Cassandra’s husband, Luke Chase.

Experts say when you are looking at the labels the first five ingredients on the label is what the product has the most of.
And then off course paying attention to the sugar content, calories, fat and sodium is important too.

The Community Nutrition Coordinator with Mayo Clinic Health System Katie Fichter says nutritiously-rich food costs more.

“It a challenge for people even if money isn't an issue to keep the cost down,” said Katie Fichter.

But there are some tricks.

“Can items and frozen items can have a good nutritional value as long as they illuminate some of that sodium or they're not packed in sauces or juices,” explained Fichter.

Experts say the most important thing is just to be educated about the food you eat, since about 80 percent of your health, is based on your diet.
And of course if you can put that knowledge to use, that's a big plus.

“You don't have to start everything at once, just make small changes,” added Chase.

Here are a few more tips:
Adding different colors of vegetables to your diet is important because they all contain different nutrients.
And experts say making a grocery list and knowing exactly what you're buying helps to stay on track.
You can find more information on ‘Shop Smart’ tours on the side of this page.

In an effort to help people shop healthy and smart Mayo Clinic Health System is partnering up with major grocery store chains all across the city.
Dietitians and health educators will be there to help shoppers understand food labels and find healthy on-the-go options.

"Majority of people do not pay attention to food labels because they're scared of it," said Diane Dressel.

Registered Dietitian with Mayo Clinic Health System Diane Dressel says the goal of the program is to teach people how to understand nutrition behind the food labels, and give consumers a few shopping tips as well.

“They will learn, if they go around periphery of the store they can get healthy items there; what’s in and out of those aisles tend to be more unhealthy things, all through there are some healthy things there,” she explained.

Dressel says high percentage of sodium is one of the most important things to watch for on a label.

“They (shoppers) have to look for the serving size, and most food labels have 2-3-4 servings,” said Dressel, “so if the sodium says 300 mm and they eat the whole container, they eat 1200 mm of sodium.”

Dressel said that to be healthy- eating healthy is a must; since about 80 percent of your health, is based on your diet.

“I would recommend that mom’s with children sign up, somebody who wants to have a healthier lifestyle,” she added.

All the tours are free to sign up for, but you do need to reserve the date and time to participate.

The first tour kicks off on January 7th, at mega foods west.

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