Find the Healthiest Foods with Intermountain and Associated Food Stores Dietitian Preferred program

Wouldn’t it be nice to easily find the most nutritious foods at the grocery store? While many shoppers read nutrition labels and scan ingredients, it can still be unclear which foods are the healthiest, particularly if you’re in a hurry.

Healthy grocery shopping just got easier

Finding healthier choices is now easier thanks to the Dietitian Preferred program, a partnership between Intermountain Healthcare and Associated Food Stores. The program uses an innovative shelf tagging system to help shoppers quickly identify the most nutritious foods. The program will be in more than 42 Associated Foods Stores throughout Utah by the end of 2017.

How were the healthiest foods chosen?

Dietitians from Intermountain and Associated Foods established strict nutrition criteria to identify the healthiest foods. These foods have the Dietitian Preferred label on the price tag.

"We identified our choices based not just on fewer calories or sugar, but also on important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber," says Joy Musselman, registered dietitian at Intermountain. "If you'reinterested in improving your diet but don’t have time to read up on nutrition information, the Dietitian Preferred label is guidance for a healthier choice."

Ron Beckstrom, corporate dietitian for Associated Food Stores, says each food category was evaluated with its own unique criteria because different foods provide different nutritional value. For example, breads and cereals were evaluated primarily on their whole grain content, while frozen meals were evaluated based on their nutritional balance and the wholesomeness of ingredients.

"Foods labeled as Dietitian Preferred are in most categories throughout the store, but foods that provide little nutritional value, like desserts, chips, or soda, have no tags," says Ron.

Will the program benefit every shopper?

The food labeling program can help shoppers make healthier choices, but it does have limitations. "The program isn't about labeling foods as good or bad, nor can it replace nutrition counselling for those who need it," says Joy. "But it can be a way for those in a hurry to get the information they need to make healthy choices. Foods that don't earn a tag can still be part of a healthy diet if consumed in moderation."

Joy emphasizes that if you have specific dietary needs or a health condition, a consultation with a registered dietitian is helpful. "It's part of Intermountain's mission to help members of our community live healthier lives," she says.

Where to find the items?

The 42 corporate-owned Associated Food Stores throughout Utah plan to feature the Dietitian Preferred labels by the end of 2017. They include Macey's, Dan's, Dick's Market, Lin's, Fresh Market, and Honey Bee Produce Company. Shoppers will also find the labels in many other Associated Foods member stores throughout the state. The 42 corporate-owned stores also feature LiVe Well Lanes for checkout and Park Farther stalls to help people meet their health goals.