By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Please describe your role at LobLaws.
I’m an in-store dietitian covering three locations in Nova Scotia, Canada. In my role, I provide a full range of nutrition services, including individual consultations, private “Shop with the Dietitian” sessions, group nutrition workshops and tours. I also provide services outside of the store, such as workplace wellness sessions, school presentations and participate in community events. No two days are the same, and I truly believe the retail environment is the best place for nutrition education and creating positive lifestyle change, with food at the forefront!
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?
As a food lover, I always knew my passion was in prevention and community nutrition. I started my career working with a non-profit organization, providing school nutrition policy support and nutrition education to schools. As a student and intern, retail wasn’t something that was highlighted. When Loblaws was starting their dietitian program, I took the leap to try something new- that was 5 years ago!
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
Challenging the public’s perception of retail dietitians! So many people don’t know what we do and I often have people ask me if I want to be working in the hospital. The retail environment provides the perfect backdrop for nutrition education- a place where people can see and taste new foods, learn how to meal plan and create nourishing meals for themselves and their families.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I would say being more flexible and open minded. It’s a whirlwind. Every day is different, and you work with a large variety of people from clients and community groups to dietitians and other health care professionals to store colleagues and management. You have to be ready to jump in and learn as you go.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back?
Learning how to work with and respond to customer questions on diet trends and products promoted in the media. When I first started practicing, I was so afraid to hurt anyone’s feelings, or disagree with others. We live in a word that is polluted with nutrition information, and learning how to approach these difficult conversations, and be looked to as a nutrition expert was something that took some practice and work! I’ve also learned to pick my battles.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward?
My team. I am so fortunate to be part of a fun, supportive and hardworking team of dietitians across Canada! Though we are spread across the Country, they are only a phone call or email away. I am also grateful for my manager who has been a big role model for me.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
From day one I have jumped in and asked questions! There are so many opportunities to learn from my colleagues in store and my dietitian team. I regularly attend department manager meeting within my stores to stay connected to what is happening at store level and within the business. I also have the opportunity to participate in continued education- I attended the RDBA conference in May 2018, and we have ongoing education within our team. In my spare time I read books, listen to podcasts and stay connected with other dietitians on social media.
Tell us about one of your initiatives of which you are most proud.
I am most proud of our mission to get Canadians to Eat Together, and our kids programming initiatives. As dietitians, we know the importance of eating together, and through our campaign we are encouraging our local communities to get on board and enjoy more meals with friends and family. This year, we have done two large events in which we go out to a local school or kids group and prepare food and eat together. I also lead a number of workshops and interactive nutrition tours for kids of all ages in my stores. Teaching kids about nutrition and getting them truly excited about food is really something special.
Bio: Ellen Doyle is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and has been a practicing dietitian since 2012. Born and raised in beautiful Prince Edward Island, Ellen has made Nova Scotia her home and currently provides nutrition services to the Halifax area. When she’s not at work, Ellen enjoys running, experimenting in the kitchen or trying new restaurants and spending time with family and friends. To follow along find her on Instagram and facebook: @dietitianellen