Want to Help Shoppers Eat Better in the New Year? Keep Things Practical
The next 12 months can mean reinventing several things about your life or focusing on minor tweaks. It’s exciting to know that as a retailer, you are the marketplace for resources that many people will purchase to begin this journey. Many of my customers, when applying these resolutions to health, interpret this as eating better, losing weight or getting more organized when it comes to eating.
Eating well ultimately begins with following the MyPlate eating pattern, created in partnership with the USDA. The plate identifies five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy (or nondairy calcium-fortified alternatives). Individuals can pick favorite foods from each of the food groups, provided there’s variety in the diet and higher-fiber, lower-fat or less-added-sugar selections are made. This style of eating can be adapted to plant-based, ketogenic, Paleo, Mediterranean or low-carbohydrate diets, as well as other dietary goals or preferences.
A common goal is that of weight loss. Current NIH (National Institute of Health) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) statistics show that 72.3 percent of adult Americans are overweight (body mass index, or BMI, of 25.0 to 29.9), with 39.8 percent of those being obese (BMI of 30.0 or more). Not only is weight control of social or cosmetic interest, but it’s also a public health issue. As a retailer, your efforts and product offerings in the fight against overweight/obesity should strike a chord with the majority of your shoppers. At this time, more than any other time of the year, it would be wise to have foods marketed as “lighter” – defined as at least 50 percent less fat, 50 percent less sodium and/or one-third fewer calories – stocked and refreshed continually.
Often, the clients I work with want to develop more control over their eating arrangements, including types and timing of food. More structure regarding food translates to less stress and decision-making.
However, keeping it practical is what makes things stick. Unfortunately in our digital age, from Netflix series to Instagram posts, we may be flooded with hard-to-replicate cooking shows, imagery and social media posts. Picture-perfect, eloquently prepared, drool-worthy food isn’t a reasonable expectation, certainly not on a consistent basis. More importantly, mapping out meal ideas for the week, from food themes to use of leftovers and single-serve brown-bag additions, will meet the needs of a greater audience.
You can keep it practical if you:
- Have customers get involved with this season of change by selling stickers for a small fee that benefit a local food pantry or food assistance organization, on which people can write their New Year’s resolutions to hang up in store
- Plug in a blender and show how to make a perfect smoothie, which can be used even to meet snack and meal needs for on-the-go consumers
- Team up with local gyms, sports clubs or fitness centers to hand out free one-day passes or discounted memberships with free swag
- Adhere MyPlate window clings to freezer/fridge cases and shelf tags to show what food groups their contents are fulfilling
- Build a create-your-own trail mix station to show how no cooking is needed to make a delicious snack
- Recruit your dietitian, chef and pharmacist teams to provide recipes and meal- and goal-planning materials, as well as food hacks that might save customers time, money and calories while increasing nutrition and confidence in the kitchen
The year 2019 brings with it a renewed wellness outlook, positive vibes and increased awareness of health, which all include food. Retailers need to begin the year strong and keep this health-conscious momentum going all year long.