One of the reasons being a nutrition professional is so much fun is that you get to take complex scientific concepts and help your clients apply them in their daily lives. Grocery stores can be transformed into classrooms and kitchens into labs to apply new knowledge.
One of the best ways to educate your clients and help them succeed long-term is to take them out of a clinic setting and teach them about nutrition in the real world. Grocery store tours are the perfect way to do this.
Norine is a total pro when it comes to running grocery store tour sessions and she has some great tips to help you do the same.
What is a Grocery Store Tour?
A grocery store tour is a hands-on education session where you take your client out of the clinic and into the real world. You will meet at a grocery store and walk them through what a healthy shopping trip looks like, aisle-by-aisle.
This is a great chance to share brand favorites, introduce clients to new foods and teach them shopping tips to simplify their lives. You can run these sessions in a one-on-one or group format.
"It gives us the opportunity to take what we discuss in our sessions into the real world and put it to use. Lately, I've focused on one-on-one or family grocery store tours to ensure that I can really put my energy and focus on their individual needs and we can get into the best-suited foods and items for their goals. It's great! Not to mention...it's an excuse for us to get some extra steps in!"
How to Add a Grocery Store Tour Session to Your Services
According to Norine, most grocery store tours take 60 to 75 minutes, so she recommends offering them as a standalone appointment type. Ideally, you can offer this as a follow-up visit option once you’ve had at least one session together.
"I ask that patients complete an Initial Visit prior to booking a Grocery Store Tour, and this is to ensure that I understand their health needs, as well as their preferences/allergies/sensitivities prior to the tour. This gives me the opportunity to prepare recipes and grocery lists that are more personalized and valuable to them."
You can include a grocery store tour as an a la carte appointment, add-on option, work them into your packages or your high end program.
What to Charge For This Service
If you’re offering Grocery Store Tours as an add-on or a la carte appointment, you will need to decide what to charge for this service. Norine recommends charging the same as you would for a 60-minute follow-up appointment.
If you don’t have a grocery store close to where you usually meet your clients, you may want to factor in travel time when pricing your session.
"I am lucky enough to have a grocery store within walking distance to my clinic, so travel time does not necessarily need to be taken into consideration. If I did have to travel the store and back to the clinic, I would charge for a 90-minute session typically."
What to Cover During the Session
Norine suggests using the following flow when you are taking your client through the grocery store:
Start in the produce section: Emphasize color and introduce clients to new produce items they might not typically gravitate towards. Teach them about diversity and offer strategies to incorporate a wider variety of plants.
Walk the perimeter: Review meats, grains, and dairy making suggestions based on your client’s unique needs. Teaching your clients how to get most of their ingredients from one store will make shopping super simple for them and increase compliance.
Head to the bulk section: Discuss nuts, seeds, dried legumes and teach your clients how to select a good quality cooking oil.
End in the aisles: Discuss label reading, ingredient lists, and share your favorite healthy snack brands so they have some pre-made options to save them time during the week.
"Label reading is one of my favorite parts of the tour because so many people have an idea of what to focus on when they read a label, but fail to truly read it through. They make sure the item is the lowest in fat, or only look at sugar - rather than looking at fiber, protein, or healthy fat. The ingredient list is where I spend a lot of time, showing my patients what types of ingredients to look for, what they should watch for, and what some of those lengthy, confusing ingredients really are. Again, knowledge is power in the grocery store and I want my patients to feel empowered when they come up against misguided claims or hidden ingredients."
Don’t forget to arm your client with resources to help them apply what they learn in the session!
Norine uses That Clean Life to generate recipe books and shopping lists to help guide the grocery store tour and give clients some culinary inspiration for when they get home.
"That Clean Life has seriously changed my life when it comes to tours and meal planning. The recipes are unique but manageable and they allow for my patients to experiment with new ingredients without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated.
The grocery list is such a perfect addition to the tour because it gives my patients a tool that takes the guess-work out of their grocery shopping experience. Grocery stores are overwhelming, especially today with all of the products out there - so to have that list guiding them through their shopping trip is priceless."
How to Offer a Virtual Grocery Store Tour
Norine has a unique practice where she sees clients both in-person and virtually. We asked her to share how she manages a grocery store tour if she is not seeing a client in-person:
"A virtual grocery store tour is something I offer as a seminar when it may not be feasible to a organize a physical tour. These are really fun, interactive presentations where we go over a lot of the information covered in an actual grocery store without actually being there.
We discuss the key sections of the grocery store, what to look for, how to read labels, healthy substitutions for common allergies or sensitivities, and how to prepare for a successful trip to the grocery store (for instance - the golden rule: do not go shopping hungry!)."
You can send handouts like recipes and shopping lists as a follow-up after the virtual session to keep them engaged and successful.
Watch Your Client Success Sky-Rocket
After this hands-on session, your clients are more empowered than ever to stay compliant and achieve their goals. Clients who have completed a grocery store tour are even more likely to follow through on their plan and become successful, raving fans of your services.
"I definitely notice that they feel more confident about the choices they are making - especially when it comes to my patients who express that time or frequent travel are big barriers to their healthy eating. Knowing that they have some key go-to's in the store that are convenient, healthy, and fit into their healthy meal planning goals gives them that feeling of confidence that I want them to have. Having these patients feel like they are equipped with the knowledge they need to make the best choices, as well as easy grocery store pick-ups definitely helps them stay on track.”
Are you offering grocery store sessions yet? If not, we are challenging you to start offering this type of appointment to your clients and see how it improves their success rate.
Keep up with Norine and the incredible work she is doing as a Dietitian by following her on Instagram.