People’s love for food is genuine and undeniable. Of course, our taste buds never let us stop at just one food item since we love to experiment with our palate. With this role of connoisseurship comes the need to keep a tab on one’s health.
In today’s age, people are becoming a lot more vigilant about the right intake of food as compared to erstwhile times. The importance of a nutritious diet is significant in the hum drum of the busy schedules that people are adopting these days. This is where the role of a nutritionist comes in.
A career in dietetics and nutrition is a growing field with regards to job opportunities. In fact, every hospital, nursing home and health club recruits people who are proficient in this field.
So Lets Understand What Do The Two Entail
Dietetics is the science of managing and promoting wholesome and nutritious food to people with the aim of bettering their health. Nutritionists help to promote good health through correct and proper eating habits. They assist people in planning meals depending on their age and work routine as well as counsel and educate them about healthy eating with regards to selection and preparation of food items according to the nutritional value of food. In addition, they evaluate and make changes in their clients’ diet from time to time. They can offer their services in fields as diverse as fixing nutritional regimens for patients in a hospital to athletes in physical training camps. They conduct research on the nutritional value of food, which helps to understand the various components of the food we eat and the right type of food that provides a balanced mix of the essentials, such as vitamins and minerals, that a human body needs.
The work of a dietician may also include the estimation and purchase of food supplies and equipment as well as receiving, checking and taking inventories of provisions. Apart from being a part of organisations, they can also choose to practice on their own and advise their clients at sessions and therapies. According to Ishi Khosla, clinical nutritionist, author and director, Whole Foods India, “Nutrition is a multidisciplinary subject. The sub-specialities in nutrition include therapeutic nutrition, food science and institutional food administration. The scope of each is quite distinct but often overlaps.”
Therapeutic nutrition deals with nutrition with respect to diseases and its scope includes job openings in hospitals, health clubs, hotels, airlines, corporate offices, health related government agencies and NGOs. Food science deals with foods with respect to their chemical and physical properties. In this subject, one can expect to work as a food technologist in food manufacturing and nutraceutical companies or in the field of teaching and research. Institutional food administration, Ms Khosla explains, deals with the handling of food and its management in an institutional setting that could include hospitals, hotels, restaurants and food services, as well as in airlines, railways and hostels.
What do you require in order to pursue a career in nutrition and dietetics?
For those who aspire to embark on a career in the field of nutrition and dietetics in India, the courses are countless. Undergraduates should preferably study home science and dietetics and nutrition or courses that offer food science and technology. Preferably, opt for a graduate programme in microbiology, chemistry, food science, hotel management or catering technology. You can then go in for a postgraduate course (MSc) in nutrition for an in depth study of nutrition and dietetics. If interested, one can also choose to go in for research work (PhD) in food technology depending on the kind of prospects that you have in mind for the future. Those who take a doctorate in this field can be assured of a prospective career in the academic or research field.
Apart from academic qualifications, a dietician or nutritionist should acquire or have a basic interest in food and food preparations as well as the desire to help people. Good communication skills and patience is yet another requirement that comes in handy when counselling patients. Topnotch management, administrative and organisational abilities will also prove to be helpful in the long run. “Professional success depends upon your own personal strength and calibre. Remember, you have to carve a niche for yourself. It can be extremely challenging at times,” explains Ms Khosla.
What Lies Ahead?
Nutrition and dietetics is a growing arena with endless possibilities and job opportunities. In fact, this field is ever evolving as a result of new studies and research that are conducted from time to time. Nutritionists and dieticians are generally employed in hospitals to provide suggestions and advice to patients with regards to the intake of healthy food. Besides, there are job prospects in fitness clubs and spas. Apart from these, one can also be a part of catering departments at hotels to decide the menu as per the nutritional value of food and guests’ requirements. Openings in the mass media industry are also abundant. Here, the top priority is given to disseminating vital information on healthy living, which has incidentally become all the rage today.
Lastly, you can also work independently as a consultant at a private practice. If one has opted to get into the field of research and academics, one can expect to conduct research on the nutritional values of different foods and other by-products. You can also take up a job as a teacher or lecturer at a college or university and contribute to the field of academics. There are good career opportunities in the food industry too. For instance, many food companies employ nutritionists and dieticians to check the nutritional quality of food products and for new product development and marketing. Nutrition professionals can also work in the department of social welfare, particularly in public health departments run by the government that help to improve the eating habits and health of the public.
What kind of remuneration will I receive?
The job may or may not satisfy you salary wise as the remuneration is dependent on the kind of area you work in. Trainees in private hospitals can earn Rs. 2,500 per month and after they gain experience, the pay could fall in the range of Rs. 8000 to Rs. 10,000. The range can vary with the type of organisation. And if a person reaches a stage where he or she has their own practice, then they can set their own fees. A dietician can earn approximately Rs. 3,00,000 to Rs. 4,00,000 per annum. A career in this field can prove to be very lucrative.
Given below are some of the institutes in India from where you can study Dietetics and Nutrition:
- Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, Saifabad (Andhra Pradesh)
- Assam Agricultural University, College of Home Science, Jorhat (Assam)
- Lady Irwin College, New Delhi
- Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi
- University of Mysore, Mysore (Karnataka)
- Bishop Choolaparambil Memorial College for Women, Kottayam (Kerala)
- University of Mumbai, Mumbai (Maharashtra)
- SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai (Maharashtra)
- University of Pune, Pune (Maharashtra)
- Viharilal College of Home and Social Science, Kolkata (West Bengal)
- University of Delhi, New Delhi
- University of Allahabad, Centre of Food Technology, Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh)
- Bharath Institute of Catering Technology and Hotel Management, Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu)
- Holy Cross Home Science College, Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu)
- Punjab Technical University, Jalandar (Punjab)
If Dietetics and Nutrition is the field that interests you, you must definitely think of choosing this as your career as it is sure to give you high rewards.