Registered Dietitian and president-elect of the Maryland Dietetic Association Jessica Kiel (left) encourages shoppers to use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ChooseMyPlate.gov interactive tools, which use USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) national nutrient data to make better, healthier food choices. – USDA photo by Stephen Ausmus
With obesity beginning to become a major health problem among people, it is most definitive that we need to switch to healthier eating habits sooner or later. Our health doesn’t just suffer due to over-eating; consuming the wrong foods also badly affects our health. With an increasing consumption of fast food, people are now turning towards dietitians for help.
Evidently, the demand for dietitians is on the rise but the world still needs more dietitians with the right education and training. The following article will discuss about how to prepare to become a professional dietitian and save the world from obesity and other health-related issues.
A dietitian is a nutritionist who advises you what to eat and how much to eat, depending on the current state of your health, medical condition and history. The professional takes into consideration your gender, age, sickness, physiological conditions and/or pregnancy. Additionally, the patient’s eating habits, lifestyle, physical activities and cultural background also play a major part in planning a client’s diet.
The role of a dietitian is to mainly plan food and nutrition programs. It could be for adults as well as youth and children. Dietitians may practice privately or work in community agencies, schools, colleges, company cafeterias or health care facilities. They need to have the knowledge of biochemistry, physiology, psychology and also cooking.
The Modus Operandi
As a student seeking to build a career as a dietitian, you will need to take the right professional training after pursuing the right education. An educational background and practice will help you learn a lot. But then there are skills that you will have to hone by yourself. Dietitians are often needed to appear sensitive to the needs of their clients.
For instance, to be an affable dietitian, you must remain amicable and should possess excellent communication skills. If your clients are afraid to ask questions or if you are unable to convey facts to them, then your work may suffer. Also, this field requires you to remain updated with the industry literature and latest innovations, so you must possess decent reading comprehension skills.
A Day in the Life of a Dietitian
On a typical day, a clinical dietitian will sit in a nursing care facility or hospital and assess his/her patient’s nutritional needs to develop nutrition programs and diet charts. He is then responsible for evaluating and reporting the results by coordinating with other doctors, nurses, hospital kitchen and the food service staff. The food service dietitians oversee large-scale meal planning in health care facilities, schools, prisons and company cafeterias.
A management dietitian will not only plan, but also budget the cyclic menus. He/she will train and instruct other professionals in dietetics department and food service workers to implement safety and sanitary regulations and also prepare reports.
There is another type of dietitian called a consultant dietitian who works under contract with the healthcare facility or practices individually. These dietitians perform nutrition screenings for clients and advise on diet-associated issues like cholesterol reduction and weight loss.
The Necessary Education
You can embark on this journey to become a dietitian as early as in high school. Opt to study home sciences and science with biology or microbiology. After school, you can pursue a graduate degree in home science and specialize in dietetics or nutrition as a major. There are many under-graduate programs like B.Sc. Nutrition and Dietetics that will help you strengthen the foundation of your career. Later on, you can pursue post-graduation (Masters, M Phil and PhD) or study diploma or certificate courses in dietetics, foods and nutrition.
The following institutes in India are among those that offer courses that can help you become a dietitian:
- Sri Ramchandra medical College and Research Institute, Porur, Chennai
- Central Food Technological Research institute, Mysore
- Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad
- Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi
- Lady Irwin College, New Delhi
- All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health (Calcutta University)
- National Institute of Nutrition (NTR University of Health Science), Hyderabad
- Institute of Home Economics, New Delhi
Devika Arora is a prolific writer who compiles relevant facts and analyzes the current state of affairs pertaining to the domain of education. She is currently writing informative articles, news stories and blog posts on career planning.