RD Close Up: Eileen Henderson RD, LD: Giant Eagle
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?
I joined the Giant Eagle Retail Dietitian team in 2011. My role has transformed over the years from being the dietitian for one store to covering multiple stores and having regional responsibilities. My current position title is Regional Registered Dietitian Specialist. I spend my time in both Market District and Giant Eagle supermarkets leading store tours and cooking demonstrations, teaching classes, and providing individual nutrition counseling. Additionally, I provide worksite wellness for several businesses, attend community events, represent the Giant Eagle nutrition team in media segments, help with the Giant Eagle Dietitian social media, and work with corporate partnerships.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
This past year I made it a goal to increase my knowledge and skills related to working with the media and to expand my knowledge of gastrointestinal nutrition. A few things I focused on with media were understanding what stories are newsworthy, how to appropriately share a nutrition message, and how to create a visually appealing display. I also furthered my nutrition related knowledge in the area of gastrointestinal diseases and how food can positively or negatively affect gastrointestinal health. I now counsel patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome on the Low FODMAP diet and work with patients that have possible food allergies or intolerances on Elimination Diets.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
Prior to working in a retail environment, I believe it would have been helpful to have a background in business and marketing, and an increased knowledge of working with the media. Our team has invested a great deal of time building relationships with the media and tailoring our skills. After working in retail for five years, I have picked up business language and skills from hands on experience.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back?
The ever-changing role has the potential to hold a retail dietitian back. However, I have always overcome this with a can-do attitude and by constantly presenting new and exciting ideas to our team. This has helped me push past the challenges and keep a positive focus throughout change.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward?
I keep moving forward by seeking and taking on new opportunities. Leadership roles have helped me understand the corporate business side of my role such as ROI, chain wide event execution, vendor partnerships, corporate partnerships and more. Testing new programs has allowed me to see firsthand what the community is interested in and what they are not interested in. This gives me direct consumer feedback to revise or create new plans. Additionally, the opportunity to work so closely with our chefs in store has brought out my inner FOODIE! People love to hear about delicious and nutritious recipes from a knowledgeable source. These experiences constantly reinforce my goal to provide practical nutrition tips and walk the talk!
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
I am not afraid to ask questions and I take on new opportunities when they are available.
I also maintain dietetic memberships, attend conferences, read nutrition articles, network, and keep track of beneficial contacts.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
Personally, I am very proud of two of our community based programs; Commit to be fit and Worksite Wellness. I enjoy sharing nutrition tips and recipes with the community through the Commit to be fit newsletter, and how to eat well to be well with monthly television segments. I am also very proud of our growing worksite wellness program. I inquired about and started working with one business three years ago. Now Giant Eagle dietitians have many business partnerships in each region which has increased our ability to help the community live well!
A Registered Dietitian, licensed in the state of Ohio, Eileen serves as your Regional, Dietitian and Wellness Coach at select Giant Eagle and Market District locations in the Columbus area. Eileen received her B.S. degree in Medical Dietetics at The Ohio State University. She previously worked as a Dietitian for Columbus Public Health: Women, Infants and Children and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Eileen is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and continues to study the role nutrition plays in promoting a healthy lifestyle in individuals of all ages.