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Would you use an in-store nutritionist?

Would you use an in-store nutritionist?
June 30
14:09 2017

If you wouldn’t know what to do with a jicama, you’re not alone.

“People are intimidated. They ask, ‘How do I cut it?’ ‘What do I put it in?’ ” said Lindsay Pugliese, a nutritionist at the Giant on Plank Road in Spotsylvania County.

Jicama-fear is common and representative of a general wariness people exhibit in the produce section of today’s supermarkets, Pugliese said, where fruits and vegetables from around the world are presented without how-to-use instructions.

Easing these anxieties is part of Pugliese’s job. As an in-store nutritionist, she will conduct tours, offer one-on-one nutrition consultations, host community outreach events, and serve as a healthy-eating resource for customers in and out of the store.

Giant’s in-store nutritionist program started three years ago with one nutritionist, said Lisa Coleman, lead nutritionist for Giant Landover, which operates stores in Maryland, Virginia, Washington and Delaware. Now there are 11.

“What better place to teach people about healthy eating than where they buy their food?” Coleman asked. “Labels can be deceiving and there is so much choice. The supermarket is the perfect place to do nutrition education.”

Pugliese is the first in-store nutritionist in the Fredericksburg region. She started in the position April 17 and will work with all five Giant stores in the area. She’ll also do community outreach at local schools, gyms, retirement communities, day care centers, doctor’s offices, businesses and other places that invite her.

With diabetes, heart disease, and food allergies and insensitivities on the rise, Pugliese said, more and more people are looking at their diets to see how the food they eat can moderate or even prevent their symptoms.

Toward that end, she offers personal, one-on-one consultations to customers with questions about how to shop and eat healthfully. These consultations cost $25 for an hour, but that cost will be returned to the customer in the form of a $25 Giant gift card.

“So it’s basically free,” Pugliese said. “People always think there’s a catch, but there isn’t.”

Pugliese said her goal is to individualize her nutrition advice.

“Not everybody’s the same,” she said. “I want to meet people where they can reach their goals.”

This means she won’t tell everyone that healthy eating means eating organic. Frozen fruits and vegetables are completely fine in her book.

“People shouldn’t feel like they have to shop organic unless they want to,” she said. “You can find healthy food in every aisle of the store. I want to give people the direction to make a healthy choice where they are.”

As a general rule of thumb, think “fresh is best,” Pugliese said. She recommends sticking to the perimeter of the supermarket to avoid filling shopping carts with the more processed foods found in the center aisles.

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