#STINGDAILY: Supermarket Sweep

June 26, 2012

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

It wasn’t by design, but when Leah Thomas took a few Georgia Tech football players on a tour Tuesday afternoon in a grocery store near campus, she and the Yellow Jackets had a near-perfect teaching apparatus.

He wore a black T-shirt with red trim and a white “G” dead in the center of his chest.

Thomas, director of Tech’s Total Person Program, was teaching Isaiah Johnson, Robert Godhigh, Broderick Snoddy and Matt Connors how to shop effectively. T-shirt, as he’ll be known, was there for reinforcement.

They started by perusing the perimeter of the store, where Thomas explained that staples are most typically found. “Most of the junk is in the aisles,” she said with a smile.

Chiefly, Thomas taught the players – as she has in multiple tours – how to read labels. She spoke of primary ingredients being listed first, looking for leaner items, etc.

After a spin through the vegetable and produce section, it was onto breads and rolls.

“Whole wheat is what we’re shooting for,” Thomas said. “Don’t be fooled by, “multi-grain,’ and other labels like that. We’re looking for high fiber.”

T-shirt grabbed a loaf of white bread; it was an example of what not to do.

Thomas is a big fan of deli meats. They’re generally leaner, and, “an excellent source of protein.” We all knew that, but again she showed the student-athletes the value of studying labels to find as much information as possible about how lean different brands are, and to also be mindful of sodium levels.

That’s not as important with the student-athletes, though, “because you’re sweating a lot,” and sodium levels tend to be more important once a person’s activity decreases. Stay away from the over-processed stuff, Thomas said.

T-shirt, who was probably in his low- to mid-20s and a tad chubby, grabbed a pack of bologna.

From there, the group moved to juices. A lot of the good stuff, like orange juice, has reams of sugar in it. Still, Connors grabbed some. So did Johnson. “That’s not empty calories, but there is a lot of sugar.”

Johnson asked a question about a juice a little further down the aisle, to the left. The stuff was blue. Probably delicious. “That’s just sugar water,” Thomas said.

T-shirt grabbed a jug of red stuff.

Thomas has put some time into this. She gave the players a sheet with grocery store tips on it.

She writes, for example:

“Frozen foods can be great staples to have on hand if you are choosing the right ones. Avoid single-serving meals, and instead use bags of frozen fruits or vegetables (without added sauces), whole-grain waffles, portion-controlled bagels, 100% fruit juices (to drink or use as a marinade on meat), or even plain cheese pizzas to which you can add veggies.”

Eggs, in moderation, are a super part of the diet for sake of their protein. The cholesterol and saturated fat levels can be moderated by using egg whites. That stuff comes in small milk jug-style containers. The players seemed interested.

This program and several others like it at Tech are great for student-athletes.

Too bad T-shirt is not eligible.

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