Alyson Dykstra is the fabulous Supermarket Dietitian for Homeland Grocery stores in Oklahoma. She was named Oklahoma City District Dietetic Association Distinguished Dietitian of the year. If that’s not enough, she was awarded 2013 Supermarket Dietitian of the Year by Produce for Better Health. Alyson received this award for all of the amazing work she does to keep, not only the Homeland family healthy, but also the entire Oklahoma community healthy. For Homeland, Alyson gives grocery store tours, writes monthly nutrition articles, gives nutrition consults to Homeland pharmacy members, performs in-store cooking demos, and works with Homeland’s corporate office to promote wellness to the Homeland employees. Outside of Homeland, she also does a lot of work with in her community. She often has spots on Oklahoma City Fox 25’s Good Day Oklahoma, where she talks about fun new ways to eat healthy foods. Alyson also works with Oklahoma City’s Thunder Fit Program and works within her community to teach them how to live a healthier life. She also has “Alyson Approved” recipes and health articles that help people make these better choices. Alyson also helps grocery shoppers through Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program in Homeland Stores. Guiding Stars is a program that helps make making nutritious choices at the grocery store much easier. It is a food rating system that rates food based on its nutrition density. If it has one star it indicates a good nutritional value, two stars better, and three best.
One of Alyson’s biggest endeavors is her annual Homeland Get Healthy Challenge. Contestants are hand selected to attend a sponsored 2 day wellness camp where they will be taught healthy lifestyle behaviors. The 14 week challenge will also include some one on one time with Alyson at the camp and in the aisles of Homeland stores. Last year’s winner lost nearly 70 pounds in 16 weeks, while the group lost a collective 300 pounds. The contest is open to Oklahoma residents and closes on August 31, 2014. You can follow the contest starting October 25, 2014, on Homeland’s Get Healthy Challenge Blog.
Alyson was nice enough to speak with me and answer some of my questions about what it’s like to be a successful supermarket dietitian. When she moved to Oklahoma, Homeland needed a part time dietitian. She took the job, and over time created the position she has now. Alyson told me that sometimes you have to be willing to step out of the box, get creative, and be willing to create your own path. That’s exactly what she did! She says that strong communication and media relationships are very important skills required in her position. She enjoys the corporate wellness side of her job and loves to see the positive changes made. Alyson also likes to try new things and says it is also important to be independent and self motivated. I asked her if the supermarket nutrition field is growing enough for someone like me to enter upon graduation. She replied with a very encouraging answer, yes! More and more people are interested in getting help at grocery stores and more and more grocery stores are discovering the need for dietitians. Even though she did not start as a supermarket dietitian, Alyson is thankful to have her clinical and management background. She says that it helped her to build skills that she uses every day, and she knows where to find the information she needs because of it. I learned a great deal by talking to Alyson. The piece of advice she gave me that stuck with me the most is that there is no solid path to get to where you want to be. It is okay to make your own path and try new things until you find something that you enjoy doing. Some of the Registered Dietitians with the coolest jobs are the ones that they created on their own. I learned so much from Alyson in the short amount of time we spoke and am so thankful she took the time to share some of her knowledge with me. Oklahoma City is lucky to have such a smart, creative, and accomplished dietitian in their community.
About the Author:
Chelsea LeBlanc is a senior Food and Nutrition Student at The University of Alabama. She has eight people in her family and growing up her parents always made healthy sit down dinners. She enjoys spending time with her family and values the importance of family meals. That is why developing quick, healthy, and delicious recipes the whole family will enjoy is one of her passions. She is interested in working as a supermarket dietitian or as a lifestyle and culinary nutrition expert.
In her spare time, Chelsea enjoys running and going to work out classes with her friends. She also enjoys cooking for her friends and family and trying out new recipes. She has a weak spot for anything chocolate and loves to travel! She is very excited to see where the future will take her after she becomes a Registered Dietitian.