People to Know 2019: Elaine Magee
I’ve seen them over and over again: people with diabetes and prediabetes determined to make healthy food choices at the grocery store only to come up short when confused by things such as how to interpret a nutrition label. Albertsons, the supermarket chain, began organizing free grocery store tours about 20 years ago to help address the problem. The tours expanded to include Safeway banner stores in 2015. That’s when Elaine Magee, RD, MPH, Albertsons Companies corporate dietitian and author of Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Diabetes, developed a network of more than 200 registered dietitians—many of whom are certified diabetes educators—to lead the tours.
“For a lot of people on these tours, it’s the first time they’re learning about the Plate Method, carb counting, and meal planning—practical takeaways we have our dietitians focus on,” she says. Thanks to her efforts in partnering with community programs, the Eating Healthy With Diabetes program has mushroomed from tours two months of the year to year-round tours; there’s also a Spanish version of the take-home guide now available.
The bulk of the 90-minute excursion is spent with the dietitian, while the final 10 minutes or so is spent with the in-store pharmacist, who answers questions about everything from A1C and medication-related concerns to health screenings. “These tours are empowering attendees to make wiser food choices and improve their health,” says Elaine. “We’ve heard from our network dietitians in private practice that as much as they talk with clients during their appointments, it’s beyond beneficial to be physically in the store, actually looking at foods and labels and discussing healthier choices.”
We know that cooking at home plays a big role in helping people with diabetes manage their condition. Elaine understands that turning out diabetes-friendly dishes starts long before anyone cracks open a cookbook. A lot of it has to do with what ends up in the supermarket cart.
Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian, chef, and the author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook and the forthcoming The Clean and Simple Diabetes Cookbook.
Jackie Newgent photograph by Clifton Parker Photography