RD Close Up: Christine Patorniti, RD, MBA, ShopRite of Livingston
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?
As the Registered Dietitian at the ShopRite of Livingston, I develop nutritional programs for the store and help serve the local community and schools by providing information and guidance on better food choices with an emphasis on convenient, healthy choices for all ages. I host grocery shopping tours, healthy cooking classes, private consultations, recipe and pantry makeovers. I also frequently coordinate with other health and wellness initiatives and nutritional programs such as the Livingston Health Department and local medical groups.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
My biggest challenge with shoppers is minimizing the stress of healthy eating; change is hard no matter the scale. Changing eating habits affects many areas of life, and every day I educate shoppers on how they can make healthier choices without adding financial or time burdens to their day. The best tool to combat this is planning! Once people start to plan out their weekly dinners, with my assistance, shoppers quickly learn how easy it is and soon realize they stress less than before due to the proactive meal planning steps we take together.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I wish I had more training on real-life nutrition counseling. In school we had one or two counseling courses that outlined specific phrases to say and guidelines to speak on based on the diet, but as a retail dietitian you can’t tell shoppers, “Limit you’re sodium intake to 1500 mg a day.” You need to show them what that looks like and how they can build a practical daily meal plan.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back?
I don’t believe anything has held me back. In fact, over the years I have become more confident in myself and my abilities in helping people reach their health & wellness goals. With this confidence I believe I’ve been able to help more people efficiently.
Has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward in your role?
Completing my MBA degree while working full-time was difficult but a great investment! Village Supermarkets Inc. fully supported my decision to return back to school for this degree, and I have been able to use what I learned in our ShopRite stores.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
Going back to school for a business graduate degree, constantly challenging myself with new health initiatives and seeking out different growth opportunities have all helped me to succeed.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
I am most proud of the Helping Families Eat Better program Village Supermarkets ShopRite offers. This is a weekly recipe program created by a team of RD’s with the objective of giving shoppers convenient, affordable, healthy and delicious recipes each week! To truly make this a convenient experience, the team created central locations in each store for shoppers to pick up a copy of the weekly recipe plus all necessary ingredients to execute the dish.
Christine Patorniti received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Delaware where she majored in Dietetics with a concentration in Weight Management. She completed her dietetic internship with Sodexo Food Service, working primarily at the St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey. In 2015, Christine finished her Master’s in Business Administration from Montclair State University in New Jersey.
Christine has been with ShopRite for over five years and has helped hundreds of shoppers reach their health & wellness goals. Shoppers can reach out to Christine for nutrition advice on a wide variety of health concerns ranging from weight loss to diet specific diagnosis.