If you choose to major in Nutrition you’ll never look at food the same way again. Where you once saw a plate of mac and cheese with a side of peas you’ll now see chemical compounds, societal trends, agricultural byproducts, and biological reactions. Nutrition majors analyze all aspects of the stuff we eat and work towards better, you guessed it, nutrition.
While it’s not a crime for a Nutrition major to down a Twinkie every now and then, these are the balanced-meal type people. They have an interest in eating healthy, and for using diet to improve quality of life for others.
It’s important to have the chemistry and biology skills. But equally important are people skills. Since most careers in nutrition result in working with people and helping them improve their diets, being able to communicate and motivate others is kind of a big deal.
If your idea of a well-balanced diet is a fruity soda, candy corn and cheesecake, you may want to forgo a career in nutrition (and perhaps pay a visit to a dietician for personal reasons).
You’ll take plenty of labs in college, getting a hands-on idea of the chemistry of foods. You’ll learn how to apply math to nutrition (height and weight calculations turn into portion sizes). You’ll learn how certain health conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol can be impacted by diet. You’ll even get into the psychology of food.
A lot of Nutrition majors become dieticians or nutritionists. Others manage food services at hospitals, universities, prisons – anyplace there’s a cafeteria feeding lots of people. Some specialize in diabetes nutrition, eating disorders nutrition, pediatric nutrition. And there are opportunities in agricultural planning and marketing.
There are general certifications available online or perhaps at your local community college or education outreach center. That might be a good idea if you’re on the fence about the major. Otherwise, you can volunteer at your local hospital. Be sure to take high school chemistry and pay attention to all the anatomy and biology you can.
An internship will be an important part of your college experience. Once you figure out what aspect of nutrition captivates you most, get an internship in that field and learn from the pros.