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Learning Beyond the Classroom for Dietetics with Nutrition Students: IMU University-Lotus’s Supermarket Tour

06 Jun 2024

Knowledge and skills are the key building blocks or the fundamentals to professional success and development. While we often gain knowledge in class, it is equally important to apply these skills across different subjects and utilise them in every aspect of life. As part of the teaching and learning process within IMU’s Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Dietetics with Nutrition programme, the Principles and Food Preparation module offered in Semester 2 provided students with an opportunity to learn beyond the traditional classroom setup.


On 7 May 2024, my Dietetics with Nutrition classmates from the DN1/23 cohort and I joined a supermarket tour at Lotus’s Cheras under the guidance of our Dietetics lecturers, Dr Sharmela Sahathevan, Dr Kanimolli Arasu, and Dr Yang Wai Yew. The supermarket tour aimed to deepen and broaden students’ understanding of factors affecting food choices, leading to healthier eating behaviours and food choices.


Additionally, we also learned to evaluate and interpret nutrition information labels during the supermarket tour.

We were encouraged to observe the price, product placement and the variation of products as these factors determines the food choices of an individual.


We were led to different food aisles such as fresh produce, milk and dairy products, and the meat, poultry, and fish area to familiarize ourselves with the food and beverage availability in our local store.

Next, we had a brief discussion with our lecturers to share our observation and thoughts of the different food items found in the respective aisle.

For example, I found out that different types of rice can be classified according to the origin, length or the nutritional composition of rice as well as each rice has its own unique characteristics, aroma, textures and culinary use. Prior to the supermarket tour, I felt that selection of rice may be confusing as there were various types of rice in the market but now, I know that we consume different types of rice due to personal preference, family member’s health condition or the belief of health benefits gained by consuming a particular rice type.

Dr Kanimolli shared that it would be better to assess the nutritional composition of cooked rice instead of the uncooked rice due to expansion and change in weight of rice. The hygroscopicity of rice varied depending on the types of rice due to the differences in starch composition. Each of us was instructed to find a rice package to assess its’ food label and shared the information on calories, carbohydrate and fibre content with the assigned group. Astonishingly, the calories and carbohydrate of white rice, brown rice, red rice or rice berry were similar. Thus, in terms of nutritional composition of rice, the quantity and quality of fibre and the glycaemic index (GI) had to be prioritised as high fibre rice provides satiety and satisfaction while low GI rice was slowly digested, causing a slower and more stable glucose level increase.


We also observed the canned food, biscuit, oil, and beverages aisle, with a brief discussion between the students and the lecturers to clarify any doubts or misconception we had on the products available there.


Throughout the session, Dr Kanimolli reminded us that when advising patients or clients, a comprehensive assessment of the subject such as medical history or socioeconomic status was indispensable as it may affect their dietary habits. Therefore, it is important to understand the personal circumstances which is pivotal in providing a personalised approach or tailored solutions to the individual.


Overall, the supermarket session was an invaluable experience for me as we were exposed to various types of food and beverage choices available in the local market. The familiarity of food choices that were frequently consumed by Malaysians was essentially crucial in our professional pathway as it is our role as dietitians to promote healthy food choices.

What Our Students Says about the Tour?

As a future dietitian, the supermarket tour is undoubtedly one of the most wonderful and exploratory classroom experiences apart from the traditional classroom, allowing us to apply all the theoretical knowledge we have learned. I am glad that IMU University includes this session as part of my learning as it sharpened my interprofessional skills and broaden my knowledge on nutritional facts. The supermarket tour really triggered my curiosity and awareness of reading and interpreting food labels. Indeed, I would be more conscious about the price of food items in future as it was one of the major considerations in making food choices.”


“My advice to my junior Dietetics peers is to not miss this fun yet educational activity and make sure to take note of your observation and discussion during the supermarket tour for reference in future,” says Michelle Chong Wen Hui (DN123) Dietetics student.”


Written by Michelle Chong Wen Hui (DN1/23 cohort)

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