RD Close-up: Karine Comeau, B.Sc., RD, Atlantic Superstore
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Please describe your role at Loblaws.
My role as an In-Store Dietitian is to deliver nutrition recommendations to our customers through personalized services, store tours and food demonstrations. Loblaws dietitians work closely with their pharmacies for best customer care. We also work regularly with community partners and even deliver on-site presentations for businesses and organizations.
I cover four stores in northern New-Brunswick, Canada. Although my day-to-day programming varies, I have one goal in mind – to educate clients on healthy eating habits meeting their unique needs and goals. I believe that a grocery store is the best environment to learn about food choices and meal planning. A place where they can touch, taste, compare and experience for themselves, with our guidance.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and how you came to work at Loblaws?
As a student, I pictured myself either as a community dietitian or working in pediatrics. I’ve always enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen, discovering new products and recipes. After graduation, I had been employed at two community organizations and as a clinical dietitian in a long-term care facility. When I had the opportunity of working as a retail dietitian, I was eager to combine all my passions into a career. When I first started working with Loblaws almost five years ago, I knew from day one that it was where I belonged. Over the years, as our team grew, I have helped mentor new hires into their retail dietitian role. Throughout these experiences, I have developed an interest in leadership and am currently working on leveraging these skills.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
Keeping up with all the new products and food trends. It’s a challenge, but it’s also what I enjoy about my role. No two days are alike. The fast-paced industry, food trends and growth of our In-Store Dietitian program require constant education and adjustments to our practice. I need a role that keeps me on my toes and the retail industry is perfect for me, for these reasons.
What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your career in retail?
As a student, I wasn’t well informed about the retail industry and all its career opportunities for registered dietitians. When I stepped into my current role in 2014, there were lots to learn about the retail industry.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back?
As a mom, finding a perfect balance between career goals and family has been the biggest challenge. Living in a small town in Atlantic Canada, opportunities of career advancement in the retail industry often require relocation. However, I continue to remain active in different projects, gaining experience and continuing to grow as a professional.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that help you moved forward in your role?
The trust and collaboration of store colleagues, community partners and clients have led to great results and successes that I’m grateful for. Additionally, we have an amazing team of Dietitians here at Loblaws. Even if we are spread throughout an entire country, there’s always someone ready to help. This team has brought me so much, both professionally and personally.
Is there a program or initiative of which you are most proud? Tell us about it.
I’m most proud of a strong community collaboration I have with health professionals in my hometown. During one of our meetings, we came with the idea of creating a free program, accessible to anyone who wish to improve their health. Savour, Move and be Healthy is a four-week program, running 3-4 times a year, involving dietitians, a health coach and a physiotherapist. We aim at educating basic nutrition, physical activity and SMART goals setting to our participants. We launched the program in Fall of 2017 and have been happily surprised by its success.