Communicating the Facts on Grains
Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Retail Dietitians have heard shoppers voice their concerns about grain products over the years. The negative image of grain foods may have started with the low carb diet craze and was reinforced by the gluten free movement, but regardless of the origin, grain products have become undeservedly demonized. While there are certainly some individuals who must monitor carbohydrate intake, or cannot tolerate gluten, many shoppers may be unnecessarily eliminating grain items from their diet and are missing out on the enjoyable, affordable and nourishing addition they provide to meals and snacks. The following strategies can help you debunk grain food myths and let shoppers feel good about reaching for that bakery baguette and box of pasta.
- Incorporate grain food education into programs aimed at targeted shopper groups. Baby Boomers what to learn about healthy aging, families want simple meal ideas, and athletes want to understand how to boost their performance. Show how grains play a prominent role in the diets of these populations and discuss how grain foods help close nutrient shortfall gaps such as fiber, iron and folate.
- Include the facts on grain foods when conducting weight management programs or consultations. When you discuss the downfalls of fad diet plans, be sure to dispel the myths about restricting grains for weight loss and good health. As you focus on the role all food groups play, discuss how grains contribute key nutrients and diet satisfaction.
- Communicate and demonstrate how grains are an affordable and nutritious component of family-friendly meals. Share simple recipe ideas and meal plans via social media and the web. Include in-store or Facebook Live demos featuring easy and affordable recipes that include nutrient-rich grain products.
- Offer seasonal solutions with grains. Show customers how to build a better sandwich for lunch boxes, provide ideas for whole grain holiday side dishes or summer pasta salads, and suggest healthy ways to top morning toast.
- Seek out science-based resources to assist with consumer communications. The Grain Foods Foundation has many tools available for health influencers to remind shoppers that grains are foods we love that love us back, including meal plans, an online infographic library, recipes and the latest research. The tools can be used to help you promote the bread aisle, the pasta aisle, and the general place of grains in a healthy diet.