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Eye on your diet

A nutritionist studies food from the time of harvest till it is consumed. Nutritionists carry out qualitative analysis of the food being consumed. They are experts in clinical and nutritional matters and assess the dietary needs of clients.

education Updated: Dec 20, 2011 15:04 IST

The lowdown
A nutritionist studies food from the time of harvest till it is consumed. Nutritionists carry out qualitative analysis of the food being consumed. They are experts in clinical and nutritional matters and assess the dietary needs of clients. With changing lifestyles and food habits the importance and need of nutritionists have increased manifold. They have to take inputs from patients and check their medical records and genetic patterns and then suggest modifications in diets if required.

They check whether the modifications made by them are within the biochemical parameters or not. And they have to check these parameters according to the patient’s history. Some nutritionists specialise in particular fields such as obesity, paediatrics or diabetes. A nutritionist is either attached to a hospital or with a leading doctor. Some are even getting jobs with gyms and healthcare centres

Clockwork
8am: Wake up, plan meals for the family, start work
9am: Leave for office
10am: Meet patients. Check records and make modifications in patients’ diet charts
Noon: Check medical reports. Make next day’s diet plans. Compile reports and give it to the supervisor to check and add inputs
4pm: Call it a day. Give advice to patients who call after working hours

The payoff
A fresher with a diploma can get anywhere around Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per month. Those with a master’s degree can expect a higher package ranging between R2.5 lakh and Rs 3.5 lakh per annum. The salaries get higher with experience

Skills/Traits
* Should be able to handle and communicate with people
* Good understanding of human physiology and food habits
* Good knowledge of food and diet requirements and knowledge of cooking/recipes
* Good communication skills
* Must have good writing skills for producing reports, leaflets,presentations etc

Getting there
The first step is to take up a home science course after Class 10 or its equivalent. After completing Class 12, one should look at getting a bachelor’s in home science. This course is offered as BSc (home science) or BA (home science). After graduation, the next step is to do a master’s in home science with specialisation in food science and nutrition. Some agricultural universities also offer BHSC/MHSC programmes. Preference is given to candidates with the science background at in Class 12. The other way is to take up a full-time catering diploma and then do a specialisation in nutrition as a part of further education
Food science and technology/nutrition can be taken up for BSc or as a bachelor’s degree in applied science

Institutes and URLs
* University of Delhi
www.du.ac.in
* Institute of Home Economics, New Delhi
www.du.ac.in/collegedetails
* Jadavpur University, Kolkata
www.jadavpur.edu/
* University of Madras
www.unom.ac.in/ice.html
* University of Mumbai
www.mu.ac.in
* The Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara
http://www.msubaroda.ac.in

Pros and cons
* You help people lead a healthy life
* Decent working hours and a very good working environment
* If you are attached to a hospital you have to work in shifts and sometimes are required to do night shifts
* You can be managing the diets of the rich and the famous