Dietitian: A ‘healthy’ career choice



With the world dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, dietitians/nutritionists play a very important role in preventive healthcare. They evolve many diet regimes which help in improving immunity and controlling diseases. Today, people from all walks of life, including professionals, sportpersons, businessmen, housewives, and of course people suffering from chronic diseases visit dietitians.



The nutritionist/dietitian’s job is to research the nutritive value of food and understand all food advise people on eating habits and plan diets that will improve health.



With growing general awareness that preventive nutrition can prevent cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, etc. rather than treat a condition after it manifests itself clinically, the role of a dietitian/nutritionist has gained greater significance. Consequently, a career in this field has become attractive.



How to start



On complexion of class XII, science stream students have the option to enroll for the three-year B.Sc/BA course in nutrition but many students study dietetics only after a graduate degree in any one of the following disciplines: home science, medicine, science (with chemistry and/or microbiology), hotel management, and catering. Six-month/one-year certificate/diploma courses in nutrition are also offered by some institutes and universities. You can also sign up for correspondence courses in food and nutrition.



In B.Sc Home Science (Hons), a student can specialise in food & nutrition in the second and third year. The Honours programme admits only students from science backgrounds as its subjects include biochemistry, botany, physics, zoology and chemistry.



At the postgraduate level, you can either do a one-year post graduate diploma in Dietetics and Public Health Nutrition (DDPHN) or a two-year Master’s programme.



Skills and Aptitude



A person opting for a career as dietitian/nutritionist must have an interest in food/food preparation. He/she should also possess good communication skills to interact with people, individually and in groups. In addition he should have patience and a genuine concern for fellow beings.



Career options




  • In hospitals, dietitians work closely with doctors to prepare diet plans for patients as per their needs. They also check quality and hygiene levels in hospital kitchen.

  • In the processed food industry, a dietitian works on the development and improvement of food products and production methods.

  • In hotel industry, dietitians plan for different types of guests and also supervise food production process.

  • Spas and clinics hire dietitians to use them for designing healthy, low-calorie monthly food charts for their customers.

  • Nutritionists have a slightly different field. They work in the areas of food science, community development, research projects and FMCG companies. Their work relates to research aspect. They go beyond diets and move into the science of biochemistry and food science.



 



Picture Credit : Google


I want to pursue a career in the nutrition field



I’m in Std XI with PCMB. I want to pursue a career in the nutrition field e.g., to become a clinical dietician. What other options do I have to be a dietician? What is the scope of this field in India and the pay package? Also the available colleges in Maharashtra for this field and how should I go about the studies?



The basic educational requirement for dieticians is a B.Sc. in Home Science or Home economics followed by a diploma in Dietetics or M.Sc. (Home Science) with specialization in Food & Nutrition. Some good colleges are S.N.D.T College of Home Science, Pune; Lady Irwin College, Delhi University; Institute of Home economics, New Delhi.



Dieticians and nutritionists are in demand in hospitals, nursing homes and government health department, hotels, cruise lines, etc. Several sports organizations, companies and factories hire these professionals to design a healthy menu for their cafeterias. Spas and clinics hire dieticians to design healthy, low-calorie monthly food charts for their customers. A fresher may draw anywhere between Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 in a standard hospital or nursing home of repute. When combined with a degree in hotel management, the salary levels could be between Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000.



 



Picture Credit : Google


Food for thought



I am a student of class XI studying physics, chemistry, maths and biology. I really enjoy reading about health and diet issues. To become a nutrition expert, is it necessary to be a doctor? I am not sure if i could get admission to a medical college. Please guide me.



No, it is not necessary to be a doctor to be a nutrition expert. In fact, dietetics and nutrition as modules are offered at B.Sc. level and specialisation programmes at M.Sc. level in many universities, including some agriculture universities. Avinashlingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women, Coimbatore, is one of the most reputed places to study home science. In Delhi, Lady Irwin College offers BSc and MSc courses in home science. You will be eligible for admission to BSc home science programme after class XII, since you are a science student. The universities ask for science in 10+2.



 



Picture Credit : Google