During March we celebrate both National Nutrition Month and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, occurring this year on March 14th. Registered dietitian nutritionists provide nutrition care and support to people of all ages in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, government sectors, grocery stores, corporate settings, private practice, businesses, sports teams and more. To celebrate, we’re bringing you profiles of several different dietitians who are doing awesome things in the field of nutrition.
Up first: Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN, CDN. Ellie is the Senior Nutritionist for Price Chopper/Market 32, a regional food retailer based in Schenectady, New York. Supermarket dietitians offer a unique perspective, helping people as they make choices about what to feed themselves and their families. They are able to help people connect the nutrition information they hear and learn into real, actionable decisions in the supermarket. Check out her interview below for more insight into a day in the life of a supermarket dietitian.
How did you come to be a Supermarket Dietitian?
A friend asked me to join a meeting with Price Chopper’s Manager of Consumer Services. Price Chopper was receiving a rise in health and nutrition-related inquiries from customers with new disease diagnoses and they wanted to develop resources for them. I offered some ideas during the meeting and 10 months later when Price Chopper decided to hire a full-time registered dietitian, they called me.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My work is incredibly diverse, so every day can be different. My first priority is always answering customer questions. Some questions are sent directly to me while others come through our customer communications team. Then I may write a blog or social media post for our marketing department, author content for mailers, or work on employee wellness projects. Several times per week I review ingredient specifications and food recipes. I also help out with public health partnerships, community events and media appearances. Twice a year I collaborate with our food service team and precept a dietetic intern from the Sage College Dietetic Internship Program.
What is the number one question customers ask you?
Our customers often contact me with questions about foods or information related to a health condition like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and more. I do not answer personal nutrition questions for each individual, but I do try to guide them to work with their healthcare provider and get connected to a dietitian in their own community.
What is the biggest benefit to having a dietitian working in a supermarket?
There is so much misinformation out there about food, diet and health. This makes it really hard for people who want to make better choices. Supermarket dietitians help by answering questions, educating on foods and labels, and helping shoppers develop more skill and confidence in their food choices. There are also benefits to the supermarket. Nutrition is looked at more and more as a reason to choose (or not choose) a certain food, so having a dietitian that can support the supermarket’s efforts to meet those needs is important.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Helping our customers, or groups of customers, like those with celiac disease, find the items that meet their health needs and hearing about their successes. When a person has a health interest or concern, they can find the supermarket to be a stressful place. Changing that stress into success is a great feeling. Seeing the excitement and happiness on a customer’s face when I help them solve their food and nutrition problem. Good food has so much benefit to offer – every part of my work that moves someone toward better nutrition is a win and energizes me to discover more ways to make that happen.
What is the one thing you wish people knew about supermarket dietitians?
Contrary to the ideas some people have about food police, supermarket dietitians promote enjoyment and balance. Their unique combination of science and culinary knowledge makes them a perfect fit for this setting. Having a highly trained nutrition professional where people make food decisions is an asset to the community and the retailer.
Have you every worked with a dietitian? Share what you loved about working with a nutrition professional in the comment section below. Don’t forget that all of Luvo’s products are dietitian-approved and available at most major grocery stores and are available for delivery.