Calorie Counters

A cornerstone in prevention and treatment of lifestyle diseases, nutrition is gaining popularity as a fulfilling career, says Gauri Rane

Love for food can open doors for quite a few career options. While chefs can deliver mouthwatering delicacies and transport you to a flavour haven, there are others who guide you in making careful nutrition choices for better health. Considering the fact that people are increasingly becoming conscious, irrespective of age, gender and socio economic background, there is good reason why one should explore a career in nutrition.

So what does one need to do to become a nutritionist? Is having interest in food/ flavours enough? “Not really,” says Krupali Shah, sports nutritionist. “One should have an interest in body anatomy, food composition and fitness,” she adds. Dr Ratnaraje Thar, course mentor, Certificate Course on Basics in Food and Nutrition, Sophia College informs, “The entry point for a course in nutrition is FYBSc. A specialization in Home Science in the third year of your degree course is also accepted.” However, to be eligible, you got to score at least 60 per cent marks in class XII science. Also, it is important to note that more than academic qualifications it is the knowledge of the basics and new trends that will get you success in this field.

Is being a nutritionist and dietician the same thing? There is not much difference. While a dietician has to do a year-long post graduate diploma in dietetics, a nutritionist is someone who does a two year Masters programme with a specialization of their choice. Besides, a nutritionist will give you a detailed value of foods that you have to consume and help you achieve your goal— of losing/ maintaining weight for your well being. While like a doctor, a nutritionist does not require a certificate to practice, it is mandatory for a dietician to give a 'Registered Dietician' exam that legalizes them to practise. Aspirants have to complete 6 months internship before appearing for the exam.

JOB PROSPECTS

A nutritionist has quite a few options to choose from. “One can take up blogging, content writing, consulting in gyms, clinics etc,” says Shah. They can further specialise in clinical nutrition, sports nutrition and the likes. Thar agrees. “A post graduate in Nutrition has a larger canvas. They can work in R&D departments of companies, become faculty members or work with the corporate and NGOs as well.” For a dietician on the other hand the focus is more on the clinical side, for instance, hospitals etc.

SALARY AND SKILLS

Salary depends on the experience. A fresher may earn a monthly package of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 and may graduate to start their own set up in about 3 to 5 years and earn even better. “While hospitals have cut-offs when it comes to remunerations of their staff, a corporate is more willing to spend on talented and quality professional,” says Thar. Nutritionists need to up their entrepreneurial skills and communication skills, she says. Shah agrees. “Being able to communicate is a basic quality required to become a good nutritionist.” Apart from good communication skills, being up-to-date with global trends, marketing skills, and even writing skills are essential if yu wish to get into this profession.

As the field gains popularity, both Shah and Thar have a word of advice for its aspirants. “Consult as many clients as you can. Talk to people, learn to communicate well and the returns of your hard work will pay rich dividend,” advises Shah. Thar advises aspirants to take up value added courses. “Take up, creative writing or even counseling courses that give exposure to other sectors. Learn alternative medicine forms like naturopathy and ayurveda,” she says.

  • Post Graduate Diploma in Sports Science, Fitness and Nutrition Course in Mumbai, SNDT Women's University, www.svt.edu.in/htm/FSN.html
  • Certificate Course in Clinical Nutrition, VLCC Institute Of Beauty, Health And Management, www.vlccinstitute.com/correspondence
  • Certificate in Food and Nutrition (CFN), IGNOU, rcmumbai.ignou.ac.in

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