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The Fitness Zone

Food Shopping Tips for Your Clients
August 13, 2012

If you work as a fitness instructor or personal trainer, no doubt you will be asked a number of questions every single day from your clients. As a fitness professional, one of the most common questions that your clients will ask will have something to do with nutrition. QLD Master Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness, Andrew Wynhoven, says that often shopping is the most difficult part for clients in terms of keeping on track with their health goals.

When working as a personal trainer in the health and fitness industry, you should have a basic knowledge of nutrition from your course i.e. knowledge of RDI's, good and bad fats etc. However, in the day and age of technology and the internet, there is now so much information online that many clients feel overwhelmed and confused when it comes to understanding what is healthy, what isn't and what should be eaten in accordance with their health and fitness goals. But what about some of the tricks marketers and retail stores try to tell their customers, and some of the misleading information that is out there? This is where a person in your position will be able to help.

Advising clients on the best options for them

If a client comes to you with some questions about food and nutrition, you can offer some helpful and friendly advice so that things aren’t so daunting the next time they go grocery shopping. Here are some basic tips for your clients to use on their next trip to the supermarket:

Using the nutrition information panel

All packaged food products in Australia have a Nutrition Information Panel, with the exception of packages that are too small (chewing gum), packaged items with little or no nutritional values (tea, spices) and any product that is packaged at point of sale (bread from a bakery). Use the per 100g column to decide if the product has the right amount of macronutrients for your diet, as some companies will try and trick you with the serving size column of their product.

Health star ratings

Some of these ratings on packages can be deceiving. It’s always important to check on nutritional values, rather than relying on these ‘star’ ratings on the front of the package. Although they are there to be used as a quick guide to help shoppers determine if a food is healthy or not, some of these ratings do not take into account sugars and fats, which are something many people working on their health and fitness will be looking to focus on. If instead you check on the ingredients and nutritional information tables, you’ll be able to determine for yourself if a food is healthy for you and your own personal needs.

Check the ingredient listing

As mentioned, when looking on the back of the packaging of your food, take a look at the ingredient listing. It will be in descending order by weight. Always look to see what is first on the list. If the first ingredient on the list is sugar then it is probably not a food that you should consume and you can sit the product back down on the shelf. Knowing what is exactly in your food is a good place to start to know whether a food item is going to be healthy for you. Some foods, such as muesli bars, are marketed to appear healthy and nutritious, but they’re packed full of sugar and artificial flavours. Instead, check on the ingredients, and if there is a high amount of sugar (and don’t forget other ingredients ending in ‘-ose’ that are usually sugars, as well), then opt for bars that are more natural. Better yet, make your own at home!

Calculate the price per kilogram

Major supermarkets now provide you with information on how much each food item will cost per kilogram. Here is an example to illustrate the benefit of calculating the price per kilogram.

Should I buy a Mars bar or a banana?

Mars bar is 53g per bar = $1.60 (per kg = $30.00)

Organic banana per kg = $ 3.99

Put that in perspective and you can realise that for your clients, the banana is not only the healthier choice, but the better financial choice too! You can save a lot of money by working out if a food is going to save your wallet and save you a meltdown the next time you jump on the scales. By knowing exactly how much you’re spending on food and ingredients, you can determine that healthy options are a lot better for you. Some will say that health foods are more expensive than junk food and snacks, and whilst that may be true in some cases in the short term, in the long-term you’re paying for your health and benefits associated with eating right. You can’t really put a price on your health now, can you?

Expanding your nutritional knowledge as a Personal Trainer

If you’re a personal trainer and want to expand your knowledge to help clients even more, check out The Australian Institute of Fitness Nutrition course. It’s a great way to be more informative about nutrition, giving you the ability to provide more services to your clients, especially those who are looking to get healthy and lose weight.

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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