Share The Health

"I wish I could take you with me to the grocery store!"


Frederick Memorial Hospital (FMH) dietitian Emily Spear provides nutritional consultations to patients who have recently left the hospital following treatment for conditions such as diabetes or a heart attack. Making healthier food choices goes a long way toward helping these patients avoid future hospitalizations. But for many, learning how to get healthier by eating differently can be overwhelming. It is not uncommon for patients to tell Emily, “I wish I could take you with me to the grocery store!”

One year ago, Emily and Care Transitions Nurse Amber Lange developed a program to do exactly that—accompany those wishing to improve their health through better nutrition to the grocery store to teach them how to make healthier food choices.

Several times a month and by special appointment, Emily meets a group of 15 people at the Safeway on 7th Street or one of the local Weis locations for a grocery store tour. A typical tour lasts about an hour, and is tailored to a specific topic, audience, or health condition. “Our initial tours were for people with heart failure and focused on selecting products lower in sodium,” she said. “Recently, we’ve collaborated with the Frederick County Health Department to add another tour for people trying to reduce their risk factors for Type II Diabetes. That includes menu planning based on lower fat options, fiber-rich choices, and healthy carbs.” The tours now focus more on general healthy eating to manage or prevent several types of chronic disease.

Emily says one of her main goals is to provide real-world solutions for people who are earnestly trying to eat more healthfully, but may have limited time, energy, or money. “Right there in the grocery store is the perfect place to show them the exact products to choose to make healthier, fresher meals that are quick, easy, and affordable,” she said.

“Making good nutritional choices is the first line of defense when it comes to preventing and treating a lot of chronic diseases,” said Emily. “Our grocery store tours are just one way FMH is working to help people get or stay well, and live healthier, more active lives.”

Trying to plan menus to ward off the onset of Type II Diabetes, manage heart failure, or improve overall health?

Click here to download an aisle-by-aisle shopping list of healthy choices selected for each of these chronic health conditions. To join an upcoming grocery store tour or schedule a tailored tour for your group, call 240-549-2053 or email

For information on chronic disease support groups, please contact or call 240-315-5965. For chronic disease education and support, you may schedule an appointment by calling 301-360-2574.