Kroger is a lifesaver for many reasons, but did you know that there is an entire team of registered dietitians on staff in Cincinnati ready to support all of your nutrition needs? Read on to meet one of the dietitians and explore what Kroger is doing to bring healthy eating right to your doorstep, phone, and hands!
Amelia has been a registered dietitian for almost three years since she graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s program in 2016. Like many of us, she didn’t grow up with any major nutrition or health influences (we all know the standard bagel and cream cheese or Pop Tart breakfast well!). With an interest in science and cooking, she began studying biology when she entered UC, but quickly realized that working in a lab might not be the best fit. After hearing a little about dietetics from a friend, she transitioned to that field in hopes of working more personally with patients in a school or retail setting. She started with Kroger’s Little Clinic in July of 2017. Since then, Amelia and her team have seen a lot of changes and growth in Kroger’s nutrition offerings.
The biggest shift so far is the current transition of the Cincinnati branch to telehealth or “telenutrition” services. The Kroger dietitians have offered personal shopping, store walk-throughs, and in-person appointments in the past. “I love getting hands-on in the grocery store, but the biggest challenge was getting patients into the store for an appointment,” Amelia says. “So, with telenutrition tools, we feel like we’re overcoming that obstacle.” Virtual nutrition can offer the ease and convenience that everyone is looking for when it comes to learning more about their health and food choices. There’s no need to come into the store for an appointment.
“We can meet you on your phone, on your computer, when you’re at lunch, when your kid is at soccer practice… whatever is most convenient for you, we will [virtually] meet you there.”
Meeting with the Kroger dietitians is very individualized. You can easily schedule your telenutrition call online. The sessions are $50 per hour. “We see everything from weight management, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure to ‘I just want to eat healthier, but I was never taught how.’” Appointment frequency totally depends on patient goals. For example, patients with weight management in mind often schedule every other week for accountability and others who just want to gather more nutrition information only need to meet a few times in total. Each initial appointment includes a review of past medical history, discussion of other programs the patient has participated in, and recall of food. Appointments can head in many different directions and utilize a variety of tools; but they always end with the patient and dietitian setting SMART goals for the next seven days.
So, these tools. What are they and how do they work? Amelia and her team use the incredibly robust Kroger.com and the new Optup app. Let’s say one of the things a patient wants to discuss on their telenutrition call is which yogurt might be best for their dietary needs. Amelia can pull up past yogurt purchases for the patient and then quickly show a side-by-side comparison with other recommended options based on their health needs. Quick data enables the conversation of WHY one choice may be better than another.
The Optup app is definitely my favorite tool. This free app connects to your Kroger account and loyalty card and then pulls all of your data from the previous few months. All of your purchases are then categorized into a nutrition basket with tons of information. You can see your nutrition basket’s “score,” set your own goals, and assign “dietary tags” to foods (i.e. high protein, low sodium, gluten-free) to make sure you’re getting what you need in specific categories. Looking for alternatives to your staple purchases? Simply scan the item’s barcode to see a full breakdown and comparison with other brands or similar items. After you’ve played around a bit, send any items directly to your cart for your next grocery run or order. Super cool.
If a patient doesn’t live close to a Kroger location, there is always the Kroger Ship site. Also, patients can check out the recently acquired Home Chef meal kits for easy-to-prepare meals at home. Amelia and the Kroger dietitians recommend specific meal kits and items for their patients depending on needs and wants. Their goal is always to help patients make informed, efficient choices when it comes to the food they buy and the food they consume for their health.
In Amelia’s experience, patients sometimes come to sessions with misinformation. “A lot of people just think that we’re going to tell them to eat salad all day,” she laughs. “I can promise you there is more to eat than just salad!” In fact, a common surprise for patients is that they may be eating too little. Some patients cut calories because they believe it’s the only way to lose weight, and in the process of doing so, are hardly eating any fruits and vegetables. Another common misunderstanding is protein intake. Patients sometimes cut carbohydrates and fat in order to eat more protein, but we need a solid balance of macronutrients in order to be satiated and feel our best. The teaching component of telenutrition can be really powerful.
Whether your end-of-session goal is to walk two miles over the next seven days or increase healthy fats at dinner three times this week, Kroger dietitians are the experts in nutrition and the patients are the experts in themselves. “Working together is a partnership to find the best way forward.”
To wrap up, Amelia says, “We want everyone to know that we can bring the Kroger store to your living room. With all these different tools, if you can’t leave the house or don’t want to leave the house… we can still provide you with a nutrition education at your convenience.” The product knowledge of the Kroger dietitians is unparalleled. I can tell even in my one session with Amelia that she REALLY knows her stuff when it comes to the products in store and online. If you shop at Kroger, I highly recommend tapping into this expert resource. At the very least, make sure you have an account on Kroger.com and be sure to download the Optup app to explore your purchases, how they match up with your health goals, and what you might consider for your future cart.
Be sure to follow @krogernutritioncincy for some great tips, tricks, and fun pics! Happy shopping, friends.