A few months ago I discovered the Guiding Stars® Program at Loblaws® stores and now I am in LOVE!
Like many of us, I am increasingly aware of what goes into my body and I am striving to eat a healthier diet, not only for myself, but for my family too.
Guiding Stars ~ Shopping for healthy foods can be very time-consuming. Who has time to look at the nutrition table on every single item before you put it in your cart? Not me and I bet not you either.
Maybe in an ideal world we would all closely scrutinize the nutrition label of every item, but we don’t live in an ideal world, we live in the real world.
In the real world we have thirty or forty minutes to grab a cart full of groceries before we need to pick up Johnny from hockey and Mary from ballet. We then head home to make dinner followed by a long list of things to do in the evening. That is the real and busy world that we actually live in!
Trust me when I say, you are going to thank your lucky stars (pun intended…) for the Guiding Stars Program which is available online and in all Loblaws stores.
Think of this program as a little cheat sheet of healthier choices. All the calculating and scouring of labels for carbohydrates, fats, sugars, vitamins, fibre and so on has been done for you. You don’t even need to take product off the shelf to find a healthier choice; with a quick glance you can easily see the healthier option.
How it Works
Guiding Stars is an IMPARTIAL nutrition navigation program that uses stars on store shelves to highlight, at a glance, nutritious food choices. I focused on the word “impartial” because I think it is very important for you to know that fact. Just because a product is a PC® brand, doesn’t always mean it will earn a higher rating than a competitor’s brand. In fact, when I was touring my local Atlantic Superstore (Loblaws®), I saw examples of name brands scoring higher than comparable PC® brands.
You can see in the photo above that the store brand Greek yogurt has two stars and the name brand has three. A perfect example of the unbiased approach to the Guiding Stars® Program. It is that unbiased approach that gives me complete confidence in the program!
Guiding Stars® Scores Foods Based on a Balance of Credits and Debits.
Foods are credited for vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, whole grains and omega-3s, and debited for saturated fats, trans fats, added sodium and added sugars. Items are rated impartially using an algorithm based on information from the food package or a Canadian nutrition database.
What are Star Ratings?
In supermarkets featuring the program, you can find Guiding Stars® throughout the store – in produce, packaged food aisles, seafood, dairy, the meat counter, and the bakery. You will also find Guiding Stars® on shelf unit price tags for foods earning stars.
If you don’t see the blue backgrounded Guiding Stars® on the price tag, it means one of three things.
- The food did not meet the standards to earn a star.
- The category is not rated by Guiding Stars®—such as alcoholic beverages and products containing less than 5 calories per serving like bottled water, dried spices, tea and coffee.
- The item is new to the store and has not yet finished being rated.
If you are not sure if a product has a score of zero, or is not yet rated, you can take a closer look at the product price tag.
In the example above, where the arrow is pointed, is where you will also see the Guiding Star® rating. The letter “S” stands for “Stars” and it will be followed by a number from 0 – 3.
On this particular tag you can see an “S3”, which means this product has “3 Stars”. You will also see three stars in a blue background to the right of the photo.
If the product was rated as a zero, where the arrow is pointed would read “S0” and there would be no blue backgrounded stars on the tag.
Three stars is the highest possible rating an item can receive. In most cases, three stars means an item received a number of credits and minimal debits. As the star rating decreases, the credits decrease and the debits increase.
Remember while shopping to look for 1, 2 or 3 stars on shelf!
In the title of this post, I included the words, “My Journey”, and this is why. I have issued myself the challenge to consistently eat a healthier diet. And…to make myself more accountable, I am going to share “my journey” with you.
The Challenge and My Journey
I am the type of person who looks at things from more of a scientific angle. I don’t like guesswork, I do like concrete, black and white evidence as to whether something works.
- I want to see evidence that following the Guiding Stars® Program is actually going to help me eat a healthier diet.
- Presumably, if I increase my purchase of more nutritious foods I will consume a healthier, more nutritious diet.
How I Will Track My Progress
- I am going to use the NEW! Guiding Stars® Personal Profile
Your Guiding Stars® Personal Profile is a tool that tracks the amount of Guiding Stars® rated products in your grocery shop and assigns a level from 1 to 5. The greater the number of starred products in your cart, the higher your level will be. It can even show you how your basket rates compared to the rest of Canada, your province, and your local grocery store.
This tool is available to PC Plus™ registered members and it tracks your stars each time you scan your PC Plus™ card or app. In many instances one person shops for a couple or a family, in those situations, the personalized profile actually reflects the eating habits of a couple or larger family.
You can easily find your own personalized Guiding Stars® Profile. Just log into Loblaws.ca and click the drop down menu to the right of your name. (See above)
Click on My Guiding® Stars Profile, seen in red above. You will be taken to your personalized profile which reflects the cardholders shopping habits. Mine is below.
As you can see above and to the left of the picture, our family is presently at level 3 (of 5 levels). I am actually a bit disappointed in this. We are fairly healthy eaters, I thought we would score higher. However, concrete evidence doesn’t lie and clearly, we have some work to do.
To increase our level to at least a 4 but hopefully up to Level 5.
While on the journey of healthier eating, I will post periodic updates so you can see how we are doing with the challenge.
You Can Participate Too!
It could be a lot of fun to challenge yourself, your family, friends and coworkers to check out the NEW! Guiding Stars® Personal Profile.
- Do some comparisons (a little healthy competition…lol)
- See if your eating habits are as healthy as you think.
- Challenge yourself and each other to do better.
- Share your journey with us, be sure to use the #PCStars and #GuidingStarsCA hashtags so we can follow along!
Your personal profile has lots of tips and resources to make the challenge interesting and fun. Such as:
- Your current level
- Your shopping cart this week
- Featured products
- A chart showing how you compare to other PC Plus™ members at a national, provincial, regional, city, or store level.
I have always tried to make nutritious selections for my family, but find decoding nutrition labels to be very time-consuming, as well as, confusing. I love that Guiding Stars takes the guesswork out of choosing foods that are nutritious for me and my family.
It is going to be lots of fun and very informative to start tracking my personalized profile. It will be good to eat even healthier and the challenge is going to appeal to my competitive side! I won’t rest until that level increases…lol!
Have you noticed the Guiding Stars® at your Loblaws® store?
Have you been using the Guiding Stars program to help make more nutritious choices?
What is your Guiding Stars® Personal Profile level?