FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- For those of us who may be trying to lose or maintain our weight, a simple trip to the grocery store can be overwhelming. Transfats, Omega fats, high fructose corn syrup; it's enough to derail any semi-healthful eating plans.

That's where Capt. Emily Smith, registered dietitian and Moncrief Army Community Hospital's chief of Clinical Dietetics, comes in. Friday, Smith hosted one of the many planned Commissary tours to help those who want a few extra tips for healthy shopping, and subsequently, healthy eating. The tours are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. the last Friday of each month and last between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on the size of the group.

The group I toured with last week was small, so Smith gave each of us three questions from her prepared list to answer. Among them were questions about the sugar content in condiments (most salad dressing tended to rate the highest), healthy meat choices and the amount of fiber in different types of breads.

Though I'd heard some of the tips before, such as "shopping the perimeter," a phrase that refers to the more healthful options being on the outer aisles in a grocery store (think produce, dairy and meat sections) while the processed items tend to be on the inside, some of the information was new. For example, though I'd long switched to wheat bread, I tended to think the multi-grain bread with the grains and oats on top would be healthiest.

But Smith pointed out that "multi-grain" was not a regulated term, meaning that from brand to brand, multi-grain could mean something different.

While those labeled 100 percent whole wheat are made of exactly that. And although the tours were primarily started as a way to provide help for those looking to lose weight, Smith fielded questions about organic food and gave options to trim both waistlines and food budgets.

So whether your goal is to lose weight or just lead a healthier lifestyle, this tour just might be the best money you never spent.

For more information about the tours, contact the Nutrition Clinic at 751-2489.