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Exploring career possibilities in Nutrition and Dietetics

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Vijay GarG

The demand for nutritionists/dieticians has significantly increased over the years, owing to increased awareness amongst individuals to stay healthy and avoid high-calorie diets resulting in hypertension, obesity, and other food-related diseases.

Many people mistakenly use the terms “dietician” and “nutritionist” interchangeably. Although these two professions are undoubtedly related, they maintain distinctive qualities.  Dietetics emphasizes on food management, whereas nutrition emphasizes on the promotion of health by way of healthy food.

The main difference between Nutritionists and Dietitians is that Nutritionists are not held accountable by a regulatory college so that anyone can use the Nutritionist title. However, if you’re looking to make a career as a Nutritionist, it’s best to gain as much educational and hands-on experience as possible.

Even though Nutritionists aren’t regulated, it doesn’t mean that they don’t offer good advice. Some Nutritionists may actually have extensive education in diet and nutrition. Some may even have bachelor’s degrees, just like a Dietitian. However, for individuals to call themselves a Nutritionist, mandatory education is not required most of the time. Unlike dieticians, the nutritionist profession is much less protected under the law. In fact, nutritionists that do not intend to use the titles of “dietician” or “registered dietician” are often free from government regulation.

Roles and Responsibilities:

Professionals in the field of dietetics often focus their efforts on specific populations, facilities or initiatives, including:

Designing individual nutritional therapies to address specific health issues, such as unhealthy weight, diabetes or hypertension

Developing facility-wide nutrition programs for health care, educational, correctional and other institutions

Increasing public awareness of proper nutritional standards and habits

Improving the accuracy and comprehension of food labels

Ensuring the safety of our food supply

Researching how changes in diet (such as reducing sugar intake) affect health (by reducing blood pressure)

Working with food manufacturers to improve the nutritional quality of prepared foods

Professionals in the field of nutrition often focus their efforts  on specifics of nutrients, nourishment, and health, including:

Researching how the body’s functions are affected by nutrient supply

Investigating the relationship between genes and nutrients

Studying how diet affects metabolism

Examining the process of nourishment and the association between diet, disease, and health

Providing health advice and promoting healthy eating

Advising about special diets

Educating health professionals and the public about nutrition and its importance

Working as part of a multidisciplinary team/supporting the work of other

Clinical Dietitians/Nutritionists provide medical nutrition therapy for patients in institutions such as hospitals and nursing care facilities. They assess patients’ nutritional needs, develop and implement nutrition programs, and evaluate and report the results. They confer with doctors and other health care professionals in order to coordinate medical and dietary needs. Some clinical dieticians specialize in the management of overweight and critically ill patients, such as those with renal (kidney) disease and diabetes.

In addition, clinical dieticians in nursing care facilities, small hospitals, or correctional facilities may manage the food service department.

Community Dieticians/Nutritionists develop nutrition programs designed to prevent disease and promote health, targeting particular groups of people. Dietitians in this practice area may work in settings such as public health clinics, fitness centers, corporate wellness programs, or home health agencies.

Corporate Dietitians/Nutritionists work in food manufacturing, advertising, and marketing. In these areas, dieticians analyze foods, prepare literature for distribution, or report on issues such as the nutritional content of recipes, dietary fiber, or vitamin supplements.

Management Dietitians/Nutritionists oversee large-scale meal planning and preparation in health care facilities, company cafeterias, prisons, and schools. They hire, train and direct other dieticians and food service workers; budget for and purchase food, equipment, and supplies; enforce sanitary and safety regulations, and prepare records and reports.

Consultant Dietitians/Nutritionists work under contract with health care facilities or in their own private practice. They perform nutrition assessments for their clients and advise them about diet-related concerns, such as weight loss or cholesterol reduction. Some work for wellness programs, sports teams, supermarkets, and other nutrition-related businesses. They consult with food service managers, providing expertise in sanitation, safety procedures, menu development, budgeting, and planning.

Sports Dieticians/Nutritionists work under contract with athletes. They teach athletes/fitness enthusiasts effective ways to improve health, optimize performance, manage weight, advice on dietary practices and exercise. They also foresee the intake of vitamins, minerals, or supplements.

Pediatric Dieticians/Nutritionists are responsible for encouraging healthy food choices for children of all ages and backgrounds by assessing and coordinating nutritional menus.  revolve around the health of children with and without special needs, such as those with obesity or diabetes. Pediatric dieticians plan menus, incorporating balanced diets supporting healthy nourishment. They also counsel children or parents on healthy eating and basic nutrition

Knowledge of diet and nutrition is just one factor that takes to successfully work in a dietetics and nutrition job. Everyday duties will necessitate distinct skills, and by perfecting and refining these skills you can make yourself more competitive and your work will be much more attainable and enjoyable. The vital skills necessary for pursuing this program are as mentioned below:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for dietician nutritionists will grow 16% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. It notes that the role of food in good health is well known, leading to a larger role for dietician nutritionists and nutrition and dietetic technicians in patient care and to advise people who want to improve their health.

The writer is Ex.PES-1, Retired Principal, Government Girls Senior Secondary school MHR Malout Punjab.

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