Retail Dietitian Close Up: Mikala Guillaume RD, LD: H-E-B
Mikala Guillaume is an H-E-B Registered Dietitian on a mission to get people to Eat Real Food. Mikala’s food philosophy is simple: eat foods that are closest to their original form and make healthful decisions consistently. Mikala is passionate about food and nutrition and is ready to shift society’s “norm” to optimal health and nutrition. Read on to learn more about Mikala’s experience as a retail RD and H-E-B’s initiatives.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position at H-E-B?
In the past I've worked in clinical dietetics as an in-patient dietitian, but serving as a retail RD provides me with a unique position to have a preventative approach while educating consumers in the moment they are making decisions surrounding food and nutrition.
Nutrition Services are a new line of comprehensive health-based services offered within H-E-B stores that are designed to help educate Texans based upon their individual health and nutrition needs. Services include grocery shopping tours, cooking demonstrations, group health classes, kids cooking classes, private one-on-one consultations, “lunch and learn” sessions, disease management classes, and more. We are able to provide these services in-store or on-site at an employer or physician's location.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
Luckily we have a strong group of dietitians and project managers that have helped build our department from the ground up. New programs and change are always challenging but we are definitely showing our worth and impact on both employees and customers.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
For me personally, having more formal background in the business aspect of nutrition services and marketing. Luckily we are surrounded by partners (H-E-B employees) who have a ton of retail experience.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
Two major things have helped me succeeded: understanding consumer trends and behavior and learning how to communicate our messages in a succinct and informative way. Both I’ve accomplished through experience, collaborating with colleagues and asking a lot of questions.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
We were able to provide our Slim Down Showdown content at a local level this year to compliment our 5th annual Slim Down Showdown Challenge. Alone, I had about 212 participants in this 10-week weight loss challenge. Not only is the reach to our customers and partners important but this is a great program that emphasizes food and nutrition, fitness, and health. I’ve had successes in 10-weeks that were upwards of 10% total weight loss. That’s where we start seeing improvements in health like lowering of blood pressure.
Any specific inspiring stories you want to share?
We are really changing the health of Texans.
Some successes include:
- Having Slim Down Showdown contestants get off of their blood pressure and cholesterol medications, and go from a size 48 to 40 pant size over a 3 month period.
- Getting a call from an employee who received their benefits incentive for the first time in 22 years.
- Having class participants bring in clothes that no longer fit.
- Helping an 85 year old man shop for his wife who has cancer, and making his life less stressful by finding the lowest sodium breakfast sausage.
H-E-B Grocery is a Texas based, Family owned store, celebrating 110 years. It is the largest food retailer in Texas with over 85,000 employees. H-E-B now has 7 Registered Dietitians providing services to our employees, customers, and the community all over Texas. I am based in New Braunfels, TX and cover the central Texas region.
Mikala Guillaume is an H-E-B registered dietitian on a mission to get people to- Eat Real Food. After receiving her Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition and Food Science: Dietetics Track at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texasshe was one of nine interns awarded a position in the highly competitive Dietetic Internship at Texas State University. She then moved on to her career as a clinical and now supermarket dietitian.