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Take a supermarket tour, learn how to fill your basket with the best nutrition

You may have never thought to do it but you can take a guided tour of a supermarket in much the same way you would take a walking tour of Hamilton.

According to private health coach Preston Ephraim II there are some who find a trip to the supermarket a daunting experience. For these people an informative tour can have a significant impact on their eating habits and health.

“Clients have told me that they feel overwhelmed in a supermarket,” said Mr Ephraim. “They say there are so many choices and they don’t know what to do so they go for what is quick.”

Clients shed their fear and uneasiness after he takes them on a tour of the supermarket, he said.

Mr Ephraim conducts tours of local supermarkets actually advising people how to go about shopping. “It’s learning how to navigate a grocery store, recognising what foods will give you the benefits you desire for your life and your lifestyle,” he said.

Much of the tour is about reading labels, teaching people what they should be looking for based on their personal health goals, but Mr Ephraim also explains supermarket design and layout.

“I explain and show how supermarkets are set up,” he said. “They are designed in specific ways to capture your attention. For example, standard supermarket design sees fresh produce on the perimeter of the shop floor with non-perishables in the middle.

“Usually you want to shop on the outskirts of the supermarket that’s where the fresh produce, vegetables, fruits and meats are. These are the things with minerals and vitamins. Everything you need for vitality is on the outskirts.”

While he is a proponent of fresh food, he said his role in giving a tour is to help people reach decisions that best suit their individual needs.

“As an independent I move from a neutral standpoint. I am not selling. If they ask, I guide them through the decision-making process for buying an item,” he said.

Mr Ephraim said often on a tour someone asks him to point out what’s best to buy. “But I don’t do that,” he said. “I get them to read the label and ask them what they think.”

Trained in nutrition he also points out the connection between colour and nutritional content in food.

Mr Ephraim said the tours work best for small groups of between five and 10 people. The actual tour inside the facility takes between an hour and an hour-and-a-half but he said he also stresses the importance of having a plan before you set out.

“I point out that it’s best to know what you want before you get there,” he said.

Although supermarkets tend to have the same layout, Mr Ephraim said the tour works best for people when done in the supermarket they most frequently use.

“I can do it in any supermarket. So far I’ve done them in Lindo’s in Devonshire,” he said.

Feedback from those who have taken the tour has been positive, according to Mr Ephraim.

“Clients have told me that they found the tour extremely helpful. A lot of them had anxiety around grocery shopping,” he said. “In a supermarket you have thousands of options and if you are hungry that also influences you. It doesn’t help.

“I’ve found that being more informed has empowered my clients. It has given them the tools to know how to make a healthy version of the foods they want for their families. They can make a healthy mac and cheese.

“The confidence they gain allows them to be calm and assertive when grocery shopping.”

And he’s happy to see the turnaround.

“We’ve moved into an instant age,” he said. “We get everything handed to us in a package now and we don’t know what to do when it comes to cooking. Sometimes it isn’t even a matter of cooking you can buy packaged sliced apples.”

But he’s hopeful the turnaround will spread as locals become more informed and demand healthier items. “This will propel grocers to meet the new demand,” he said.

For more information on supermarket tours e-mail Mr Ephraim: preston[AT]myhealthcoachpreston.com.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg Take a tour: You will find many of the more nutritional choices on the outer edges of the supermarket shop floor.

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Published March 13, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 13, 2012 at 9:20 am)

Take a supermarket tour, learn how to fill your basket with the best nutrition

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