To an extent, talking about eating disorders, obesity, and unhealthy eating habits still remains taboo. There are so many crash diets, weight loss medications, and detox drinks available. Often to the detriment of those who make use of them.
Nutritionists aim to counsel and aid people in managing their eating habits effectively. To reach their goals while remaining healthy, be it to lose weight, manage an eating disorder, or work around a health issue.
So, let’s take a closer look at how to become a nutritionist…
It will be expected of you to complete some sort of degree in nutrition, biochemistry, biology, psychology, or anatomy. With these majors, you will learn how different bodies work, as people can metabolize food differently depending on their age, gender, hormones, fitness, body type, and more.
You will also learn all about how different foods work together or against each other, and how to identify foods in terms of their nutrition vs. their calorie content. It said that there is no such thing as “bad food,” but rather that food will aid in your client’s goals or become a hindrance.
Read more: Nutritionist Job Description
Eating Disorders And Mental Issues
Another factor pertains to the psychology surrounding food. Patients often suffer from body dysmorphia or eating disorders that can cause them to gain too much weight or lose too much weight. You will be tasked with finding meal options for them that will ensure that they get enough nutrients to be healthy and recover from their eating disorders in a healthy manner.
This can be a tough part of the job, as you may have to work with their therapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists, to not only treat their physical health but their mental health as well. For many who suffer from eating disorders, choosing to simply drink a small bottle of water, or eating a small meal can be difficult.
Compassion and vigilance…
You will have to work around their triggers and stay compassionate while maintaining vigilant of scenarios where you may suspect that they are practicing harmful behaviors. This is an especially difficult part of the job, as you may be expected to work with young children as well – as you will have to navigate situations around trust, while still reporting back to their parents.
Although many positions will only require you to have an associate degree, having a bachelor’s or higher degree will help to raise your base salary and lend credibility towards your qualification in the profession.
Nutritionist vs. Dietitian
The demand for nutritionists is growing; however, there are still some credibility issues regarding this profession. You will need a specialized degree and pass a national exam if you wish to be licensed as a registered dietician.
Many people use the word “nutritionist” and “dietician” interchangeably. The difference is that a dietician needs to have specialized education and be licensed. A nutritionist can work with only an associate or bachelor’s degree with the subjects mentioned, without any formal licensing.
Success rates don’t lie…
For some patients, this can be jarring when they find out that their nutritionist does not have the same level of education as the dietician their friend goes to. This especially rings true to nutritionists who do not have the same success rates as their dietician counterparts.
How to get the best out of your career
Whether you opt to get licensed or not, you can get a leg up by partnering with a medical doctor’s office. Patients who visit their doctors regarding health problems that can be managed or improved with a healthy diet will likely trust the nutritionist if they were recommended by the doctor or have an office in the same practice.
More On Nutrition And Dietetics
We found a selection of guides with reading on the matter such as the Launching Your Career in Nutrition and Dietetics: How to Thrive in the Classroom, the Internship, and Your First Job if you’re starting your studies, or the Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics Complete Food And Nutrition Guide, and The Nutritionist’s Guide | A Basic Guide in understanding Human Nutrition and its Improvement, all available online in 2023.
For sports nutrition, we recommend reading up on the Essential Sports Nutrition: A Guide to Optimal Performance for Every Active Person, and The Performance Nutritionist: Insights, reflections and advice from practitioners working in elite sport, and finally Sports Nutrition: A Handbook for Professionals.
Lastly are a few related articles to look at, such as my How To Become A Registered Dietitian, my Dietary Aide Job Description, or how about my Companies That Hire For Remote Health Coach Jobs, and my Healthcare Jobs That Require No Experience, for some alternative ideas.
It is advisable to learn about different niches as well. For example, if you find that you are unable to handle teens or children with eating disorders, you may wish to specialize in sports nutrition.
If athletes do not appeal to you, perhaps you could focus on weight loss management. Either for adults or special care for the elderly. Whichever option you choose, you to become a better nutritionist in the end.
All the very best in your new career as a Nutritionist!