A Conversation With: Kilene KnitterIn-store nutritionist, Giant Food Stores
Kilene Knitter, 28, serves as the in-store nutritionist for Giant Food Stores in Lancaster and is based in the Lititz Pike store.
She was recently chosen as the recipient of the inaugural Down The Line and Beyond Serving Up Healthy Habits Award for her volunteer work in nutrition education.
Knitter earned a bachelor’s degree in nutritional science from Penn State University and is a registered dietician as well as a licensed dietician/nutritionist.
She lives in West Earl Township, Lancaster County, with her husband and puppy.
Q: Tell us about a typical day as an in-store nutritionist.
A: I have two main roles: my in-store role and the community role. I do in-store consultations, where the customer pays $20 but then gets refunded through a Giant gift card. The consultation can be individualized, whether they want help reading labels or they have a specific condition, it’s really based on whatever they need assistance with. Those are about one hour in length. I also do in-store samplings where I focus on new healthy products, new recipes — for example, when it’s National Almond Day, I’m going to be doing some almond yogurt with almond granola. It’s really taking what’s going on seasonally and doing samples with that. I also do grocery store tours and in-store classes. My first in-store class was “Cheers to Heart Health,” where we did wine and food pairings. There’s also community events, where I go into the community and team up with anything from senior centers to schools to businesses and do lunch and learns, health fairs and classes to provide health and wellness education. Every day is a little bit different, which is what I love about it.
How do you help people make healthy choices when it may seem like less healthy ones are more cost-effective?
I try to focus on promoting what’s in season right now, how we can incorporate some other options such as frozen or no-salt-added canned items. What I do is go through a day with them: What are you eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner? From that I can help them reformulate their day so they’re incorporating healthier choices within their health and budget plan. A lot of the questions I get are about meal planning and prepping, so a lot of what we talk about in the consultations, and also classes and lunch and learns, is how to not only meal plan but how to meal prep, to incorporate that into your lifestyle, which can absolutely help with sticking to a budget.
What can businesses do to help employees focus on proper nutrition?
A lot of companies have wellness committees, so I can work with the committee to do presentations, whether it’s a lunch and learn where they’re learning meal planning and prepping, or nutrition for disease prevention.
The main message I try to convey is: Everything with health and wellness is about balance. It’s just trying to find that balance, whether it’s your workplace balance, balancing your food intake or your exercise and nutrition balance. In everything in life, there has to be a good balance. It’s about finding that balance that makes you happy and helps you to live a healthier life.
What is your go-to healthy snack?
I like to make different smoothies. I love smoothies and I like to experiment with different flavors — base it on what’s in season and just kind of have fun with that.