What Does a Nutritionist Do?

NutritionistBefore making any definitive career plans, it’s important to understand exactly what a nutritionist does to determine if it’s the right fit for your interests. As experts in nutrition and food science, nutritionists are in growing demand to establish preventative healthcare programs that promote healthy eating for improved wellness. Since the CDC reports that more than one-third of American adults are overweight or obese, nutritionists are also essential for providing guidance to weight loss journeys to lose and keep off extra weight. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of nutritionists will grow rapidly by 21% before 2022, which will create around 14,200 new positions nationwide. There’s certainly a favorable job outlook, but below we’ll look closer at the job’s description to figure out if becoming a nutritionist is your destiny.

What Nutritionists Do

Nutritionists are responsible for helping people boost their physical and mental health by recommending certain foods or special diet plans. Nutritionists evaluate the health of their clients to advise them on which foods to eat and which to avoid in order to meet a specific health-related objective. For instance, a nutritionist may help a client with high blood pressure customize a diet with limited fat, sodium, and sugar intake. Nutritionists often counsel patients on nutrition issues, develop meal plans, evaluate health progress, teach classes about good eating habits, conduct nutritional science research, and coordinate patient care with other healthcare professionals. Nutritionists translate the complex science of nutrition into everyday information to help avoid nutritional deficiencies and chronic medical conditions.

Where Nutritionists Work

Daily duties for nutritionists tend to vary greatly depending on their work setting. Clinical nutritionists who work in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, physicians’ offices, and other health institutions spend time creating food plans based on the health needs of specific patients. Nutritionists employed by government agencies, public health clinics, health maintenance organizations, and community-based centers counsel specific at-risk populations to educate them on healthy lifestyle choices. Other nutritionists may work in the fitness industry to help professional and amateur athletes optimize their fitness levels through food. Self-employed nutritionists usually have added responsibilities of marketing their services, scheduling appointments, gathering informational materials, and visiting people’s homes.

How to Become a Nutritionist

Since nutritionists must be knowledgeable about how dietary components in food affect people and particular diseases, it’s no surprise that this profession requires post-secondary education beyond a high school diploma. Nutritionists typically must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Most choose to major in dietetics, nutrition, food science, clinical nutrition, health education, or a similar area. Regardless of your concentration, it’s beneficial to bulk up your schedule with courses in nutrition, psychology, counseling, biology, human anatomy, and chemistry. Upon graduation, you’ll need to complete supervised training as part of a formal internship or a coordinated dietetics program. Most states require nutritionists to be licensed, but you should also consider earning the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Related Resource: Nurse Educator

Overall, nutritionists are highly trained professionals who use their understanding of the human body’s metabolic and physiological responses to nutrients to customize dietary plans that improve the health of their clients. If you’d like to do what a nutritionist does daily, you may be the perfect fit for crafting healthy dietary plans and menus that cut down on risk for illness.