We’ve all been there – you head to the grocery store intent on making healthier food choices and face rows of overwhelming nutrition claims. Low in saturated fats, reduced sodium, source of fibre – the onslaught of information can be difficult to navigate.
“It used to be enough to list nutritional information in small print on the back of the box,” says Alexis Williams, Registered Dietitian, Loblaw Companies Limited. “Canadians are becoming more health conscious, but there’s a lot of confusing information out there. A great place to start identifying healthier choices is grocery store shelves where brands and retailers are emphasizing those options more prominently.”
Making nutritional information easier to identify is a great step forward– but there is still a gap in understanding what’s healthier.
“Some companies are taking it a step further,” comments Alison Duncan, Ph. D., R.D., University of Guelph. “Guiding Stars, found exclusively in Canada at Ontario Loblaws® stores is a great example. We designed the Canadian Guiding Stars algorithm to help take the guesswork out of making healthier choices. Items have scores of up to three stars based on nutrition label content and product ingredients. While it’s always recommended to read the Nutrition Facts table on a product, when shoppers are too rushed, they can just reach for the stars and know they’re making a healthier choice.”
Easy-to-identify symbols like Guiding Stars, along with other resources like the support of in-store dietitians and pharmacists help everyone make healthier choices, from parents shopping for family meals to young adults leaving home and starting to grocery shop for themselves.