Eating healthy can be a challenge at times, especially for college students.
But a group of Fresno State dietetic students are teaching community members that it’s as easy as adding one more healthy ingredient to their meals.
The Bulldogs in the Grocery Store nutritional tours began April, and dietetic students are leading tours throughout the semester to educate consumers on healthy eating.
The tours take place now through May 12 at the Save Mart Supermarket on First Street and Bullard Avenue and are free and open to the public.
The program allows dietetic students from the food and nutritional sciences department to bring their fellow students to Save Mart for a tour.
The idea is the encouragement of incorporating one more fruit or vegetable into their diet, said Kassie Ramirez, a dietetics and food administration student and program coordinator.
“We just want to make sure we can equip the students with knowledge on how to go [grocery shopping] because it can be intimidating going to the grocery store and you’re like, ‘Where do I even start? How do I do this thing of eating healthy?’” Ramirez said.
The students are trained in a classroom setting and through nutritional tours led by Dr. Lisa Herzig, an associate professor and the nutrition and dietetics undergraduate coordinator.
This is the fourth year the tours have been implemented thanks to a $5,000 grant awarded by the non-profit group Produce For Better Health Foundation, Herzig said.
The grant has covered the cost of materials for the tours including aprons for the tour guides, food sampling and printing.
“We want to enlighten [consumers] that it’s OK to have fruits and vegetables in canned, fresh, frozen, juiced and dry forms,” Herzig said. “That all are good, all are healthy, and no one is necessarily better than the other.”
The nutritional tour takes a group of up to eight people around the perimeter of the grocery store.
This process helps to avoid less healthy and processed food options in the middle aisles, Ramirez said.
Tour guides lead the group through the fruits and vegetables, explaining the health benefits of antioxidants, folate, fiber and vitamins in the produce section.
Groups are then led through the canned and frozen food aisles to compare the benefits found in different items.
Ramirez said that the small group number allows for a more hands-on experience.
“We do ask participants to read the ingredients [on product labels], so we just want to make sure everyone can get the most out of it,” she said.
Ramirez explained that the concept of adding one more fruit or vegetable item into the diet may look different depending on the individual.
During the nutritional tour, she recommended that people “eat the rainbow” for a variety of health benefits from produce.
“If it’s starting with just eating one vegetable a day, we really want to encourage that,” Ramirez said.
Save Mart store manager David Galyan said that the store wants to help people maintain healthy eating in any way they can.
“I believe that the more knowledge the customers have on what they’re looking for will help them be able to shop for themselves and their families,” he said.
Galyan added that Save Mart advertises organic, locally owned and farm-to-store products.
“[Healthy eating] is a lifestyle change and it’s a culture of eating right for the long term, just not doing it every now and then,” he said.
In addition to the tours, Ramirez and Herzig are also working on a cookbook with recipes created by dietetics interns to be released by the end of the semester or next fall.
The recipes are calculated according to nutrition requirements, with calories, fat and carbohydrates measured.
“We have a bunch of recipes that we’ve been gathering now for over a year, so it’s just a matter of finding a little bit of time so we can compile them and put them into the different categories of appetizers, entrees, desserts and salads,” Herzig said.
People can register for a nutritional tour with the Bulldogs in the Grocery Store online.