Have you ever been puzzled by a nutrition label?
Many shoppers encounter this dilemma at the supermarket, where the maze of products can be confusing and overwhelming.
In January, the ShopRite of Commerce Park in Stamford decided to address this problem by hiring a registered dietician.
Jamie Lee McIntyre, RD CD-N first developed an interest in nutrition from high school, where she realized that good nutrition would keep help her succeed in sports as well as class.
McIntyre earned a Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Rhode Island, and then then completed her masters in Nutrition Sciences at St. Joseph College in West Hartford.
McIntyre is one of approximately 30 dieticians that ShopRite has been hiring for its stores since 2005. Though she is based in the Commerce Park store, McIntyre also services other locations in Fairfield County.
“My job is a really good mix of community, nutrition education, and nutrition counseling,” McIntyre said. “It’s very interactive, I talk to people and their families one-on-one…and what better education tool could you have than nutrition labels within walking distance?”
Aside from individual counseling, McIntyre organizes events and services that are available to customers, ShopRite employees, and the community. Events for the month of August, for example, include a back-to-school health series and a “Preventing the Freshman 15” class.
McIntyre has coordinated mobile mammograms and blood pressure screenings, along with weekly in-store cooking demonstrations. She also ventures into the community, working with schools, senior centers, and nonprofits.
Margaret Goode, a shopper from Baltimore who was visiting Riverside, was surprised by the presence of an in-store dietitian. “I was kind of intrigued,” she said.
ShopRite is the only major supermarket in Stamford that employs a full-time dietitian. Private dietitian services can range between $150 to $200 an hour, but McIntyre’s services are entirely free.
“It’s rewarding to be able to help people on a daily basis and not charge them,” she said. “When someone comes to tell me that their blood sugar is 100 points lower, that’s amazing to hear.”
Stamford resident Dana Bryant is a frequent ShopRite customer, yet she was unaware that free dietitian services are available. “I do think it’s useful, since a lot of people are health conscious now,” she said.
The most common advice McIntyre stresses is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. “I love veggie-based meals, which sounds so typical of a dietitian, but it's true. I just love the versatility...the possibilities are endless,” she said.