So you want to be a Nutritionist?

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pot with vegetables in it

If you like to combine healthy living, science and food the career of a Nutritionist might just be for you.  As their name suggests nutritionists are all about nutrition – the food we eat. As professionals, they advise individuals and other professionals about the right sort of food they should be eating.  Depending on your particular role you may also be involved in conducting the science to further improve nutritional knowledge.

 

Becoming a Nutritionist

A Nutritionist is a professional role and, while not legally required in the same manner as nursing or doctor careers practically every client or employer will require a degree either in the field or in a very close subject.  A few may accept extensive experience in a related field. Depending on seniority of the role it may be necessary to progress to a master’s degree in order to be considered. This would entail the completion of up to four years higher level education.  

A more affordable way of getting started with this is to pursue a diploma route with a recognised qualification that can be transferred for credit towards a final BSc or MSc qualification.  Many providers offer such courses and these are often ideal as a low-risk first entry point, especially for mature students who may be only able to study part-time in pursuit of their degree.  

Nutrition courses teach the science behind food.  How it impacts our health, how we can improve our lives by changing what we eat and how to manage underlying conditions and diseases better by consuming the right food.  Naturally, a proper understanding of the biology of the human body is important to this.  

Unlike the similarly named and often mistaken role of “Dietician”, “Nutritionist” is not a name protected role, meaning you are not legally obliged to register before working as one.  However, accreditation and membership of a professional body is a sensible course of action. It both provides opportunities for professional growth and connection and formal recognition of your status which is important to individuals who will want your services.  

 

Is Being a Nutritionist For Me?

Aside from the formal qualifications and accreditation, it’s important to consider if you have the personal qualities that would let you excel in this field.  Some of the personal traits and aptitudes you will need for success include:

 

A Scientific Mind: As previously mentioned professional Nutritionists take a science-based approach to their work.  Every person is different and in order to deliver appropriate nutritional advice, it is important that you are able to give advice in line with best practice, analyse the results and make changes based on the outcome.  

Good Communication Skills:  With your training, your knowledge of nutritional matters will be far above those of most people.  This means you need the ability to take concept words and scientific language and explain it in simpler terms to your clients.  

Positivity, Empathy and a Drive to Motivate Others:  All the science in the world is useless if it is never put into practice.  You’ll need a people-oriented perspective that lets you encourage clients to act based on your advice as well as the sympathy and understanding to accept that things won’t always be easy.  Anyone who has ever tried a diet has experienced a failure to keep to it and it will be your job to help get your clients back on track.

If you have a scientific mind, a love for food and a desire to make a real difference in people’s lives a career in Nutrition really should be on your menu.

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