In science, nutrition refers to the supply of materials like food that are required by living organisms to stay alive. In simple terms, it is the study of consuming food.
Despite food being an essential part of our everyday life, eating the right amount and type of food to sustain a healthy lifestyle can be tricky for some people. What you put into your body can affect your long term health. The next time you are at the grocery store, should you choose that tasty cereal or opt for some fresh fruit?
In the United States, there has been a huge rise in the number of fast-food chains over the past several decades. Thanks to services like speedy food delivery and 24/7 drive-throughs, eating fast-food has become easier than ever.
With more people are opting to eat unhealthy foods, it’s no wonder that more than 30% of adults and 17% of children living in the United States are now considered medically obese.
Even if you avoid eating fast food, you can still be at risk from eating unhealthy foods. There are just so many different food choices inside grocery stores these days that it’s hard to distinguish what’s good for you and what isn’t.
Eating too many unhealthy foods can make toxins accumulate inside your body and even lead to long-term health problems. If you want to stay healthy, try paying more attention to what you put inside your body with the help of nutritionists.
What Do Nutritionists Do?
Nutritionists provide nutrition services, nutrition information, nutrition research, and even dietary guidelines for clients and people in their communities. They help give advice on how to manage health issues, promoting healthy eating habits, avoiding chronic disease through a balanced diet, and researching the latest nutrition science research.
As working professionals, nutritionists can be found in medical facilities, long-term care facilities or even a location of their choice if they have chosen the self-employed route.
Nutritionists who work for public health organizations and nonprofit agencies can work at the office location of their agencies, while school and community nutritionists can be found on-site working directly with students or community residents.
Like many other professionals, most nutritionists go through a formal education program and take formal nutrition lessons at a post-secondary level. Here, they learn facts about food systems, the seven major types of nutrients the body needs to function properly and the difference between micro and macronutrients.
The goal of their nutrition education is to give them an understanding of what type of foods provide what type of nutrients for the body.
As a branch of science, nutrition mixes the study of molecular biology, biochemistry, and agricultural and food studies. Aspiring nutritionists in the senior years of their studies can choose to focus their program on specific subjects within the topic, like what health issues are related to the consumption of certain foods, and how metabolic pathways work inside human bodies to convert food into energy.
How To Become a Registered Nutritionist
Are you interested in working as a nutritionist? If so, it’s worth knowing that nutritionists can be registered or unregistered. Registered nutritionists have the RD title next to their name.
This usually means they have completed a series of nutrition courses through an accredited university or program and also passed a professional licensure exam. Additionally, they may have also completed rigorous internships under the guidance of other registered nutritionists.
Nutritionists who do not have an RD or RDN title next to their name can also work as nutritionists. Usually, these nutritionists may have bypassed a formal nutritionist education where they took structured nutrition courses. It’s also possible that they are in the process of getting their RD title but have yet to meet the requirements like passing the licensure exam.
Types of Degrees in Nutrition
Now that you are considering studying nutrition formally, you have a few different degree options to choose from. The first option is an Associate of Science in nutrition, or AS. The second option is a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition or BS. And the third one is a Master of Science in Nutrition or MS.
To get your Associate of Science degree in Nutrition, also called AS, you need to complete two years of formal nutrition science-related courses. This degree is ideal if you are not 100% sure you would like to work in nutrition after graduation, as the time commitment is only two years and it prepares you for basic entry-level positions in healthcare facilities like hospitals.
A Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, also known as a BS in Nutrition consists of four years of formal education. These programs prepare graduates to work as Registered professionals in the field. Some nutritional science courses you will take in this program include nutrition therapy, how to manage stress, and how to incorporate physical activities in everyday life.
If after completing a Bachelor’s degree, you find yourself desiring to learn even more in the field of nutrition, you can consider getting your Master of Science in Nutrition, or MS. This is a two-year program that often involves a research component where students will get to study nutrition and the latest science in depth. The program usually culminates in the presentation of a final thesis.
Where To Study Nutrition in the U.S.
Due to the prevalence of post-secondary schools in the United States, you have many options when it comes to choosing a school to study nutrition. If you are just a casual nutrition enthusiast, you can consider taking online nutrition courses for interest. If you are a serious learner, you may want to look at your university options to choose the right school for your needs.
Many accredited nutrition degree programs are offered by American universities. A simple search can bring up numerous nutrition study programs. Most state universities and large universities have their very own agricultural and food science department where a nutrition science degree is offered. There are also many private and online schools where you can take courses on nutrition.
One university you can consider is Purdue Global where you can earn an online degree in health science nutrition. You will study research methods and applications that will prepare you for your career in nutrition sciences.
Another university you can consider is Sacred Heart University that offers online and campus courses in nutrition. They offer a Masters of Science in Nutrition and Exercise where graduates will gain knowledge in exercise physiology, nutrition, and clinical testing. They will be able to use their knowledge in the workplace as clinical nutritionists assessing the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.
How to Choose a School to Study Nutrition?
So now that you understand what it means to work as a nutritionist and where you can receive an education to learn more about the field, you will want to choose a school that meets your needs.
The first thing to consider when choosing a school to take your nutrition courses is whether you are close to the school’s location and how long are you willing to commute to it. Do you want to move away from home to enjoy the college experience? Or would you prefer to study close to your parent’s home to save money on rent? These two questions can serve as the basis for you to decide.
Another factor to look into when choosing a school for yourself is whether the school has a good reputation and the employment rates of their alumni. If you are looking to study nutrition out of pure interest only, consider a school where a professor whose research interests you works at.
If you would like solid employment opportunities after graduation, look for a university that offers good internship programs that can help launch your future career.