Nutrition is a hot topic these days. With the rise of social media and more food choices than ever before, the choice of diets and lifestyles to follow can be overwhelming. It doesn’t help that many of the most popular nutritional plans contradict each other. Two of the most popular diets in 2019 are the Ketogenic diet and High-Carb Veganism. Both claim to be the most natural human path to optimum health and longevity, despite them being chalk and (vegan) cheese.
Nutrition courses can help people to sort the wheat from the chaff and make educated decisions about their diet.
There are lots of reasons why people seek help with nutrition. They may want to lose weight, manage illness or simply educate themselves on how to feel as healthy as possible.
Why do a Nutrition Course?
It’s not difficult to find very poor nutritional advice online. Receiving nutritional advice or training from an unqualified Nutritionist can be a waste of money at best, or very dangerous at worst. One of the most common forms of this is the ease of being able to self-diagnose (or worse, be diagnosed by a have-a-go dietician) various food intolerances. Wrongly diagnosing yourself with gluten intolerance or lactose intolerance can do your body more harm than good, not to mention your bank balance.
Likewise, giving nutritional advice without proper qualifications can have serious ramifications. Self-styled nutrition gurus make money selling eating plans that are either the same old thing we already know or mad, bad and dangerous. It is highly irresponsible to do this. So, if you have the calling to become a nutrition professional and truly care about your clients’ health, you must get properly qualified (to degree level) and licenced.
Nutrition Degree Courses UK
It’s important to remember that being a professional nutritionist or dietician is about a lot more than helping people to lose weight. It is a biology-heavy, highly scientific medical profession that deals with medical issues from life-threatening allergies to heart disease. The title of ‘dietitian’ is protected by UK law, therefore it is not possible (or rather, legal) to call yourself one without being qualified and registered. On the other hand, absolutely anyone can, legally, call themselves a nutritionist. As you can imagine, dieticians are taken a whole lot more seriously than nutritionists.
Here are a few of the best nutrition degree courses in the land. These courses all provide direct entry to become a professional dietitian and are accredited by the British Dietetic Association (BDA). You must do a course accredited by them in order to become a real dietician.
University of Surrey
King’s College London
BSc Nutrition and Dietetics
Robert Gordon University
What Courses are Required for a Degree in Nutrition?
In general, you’ll need A-Levels or another Level 3 qualification to be accepted onto a degree course, with at least one being a science subject. There are rarely any entry requirements for other courses but it’s worth checking the course details. Certificates and Diplomas are also highly regarded.
How Many Years Does a Nutrition Course Take?
The answer to this question depends entirely on which course you choose. A degree with a foundation or placement year takes four years, whereas some can be a matter of hours. How long you need to spend studying relates to what you want to get out of your nutrition course.
How Much are Nutrition Courses
Again, this depends on the course. Degrees naturally cost thousands of pounds but are an investment in your future and, for many, the experience of a lifetime. If you simply want to learn about nutrition without qualifying though, you don’t need to spend much at all. A lot of online nutrition courses are free but it’s often worth paying a bit for a higher quality course. You can of course just do your research online and thereby get the information for free. However, since there are such strong opinions, conflicting opinions and complicated studies, being taught by a professional is the better option.
Online Nutrition Courses
It seems anyone who has social media can claim to be a Nutritionist nowadays but that doesn’t mean the internet isn’t a good place for nutrition courses. If you work full time, have children or live outside the UK, online courses can be a lifeline in achieving your goals. The flexibility and accessibility of online tutorials make them a wonderful choice for working people or mature students in particular.
Online nutrition courses can also allow you to only study your particular interest. While degrees cover all bases, if you’re only interested in eating disorders or IBS, for example, you can easily study only that.
Sports Nutrition Courses
If your passion is sport and fitness and you are deeply interested in what athletes use to fuel their superpowers, try a sports nutrition course.
University of Glasgow
University of Salford
Off-Grid Nutrition Courses
Not everyone subscribes to the NHS nutritional guidelines. There has been a lot of backlash in recent years about the food pyramid, or Eatwell Plate, particularly its emphasis on complex carbohydrates such as bread and pasta being the staple food source.
Nutritionists are emerging left, right and centre with different and opposing advice. If you’re interested in following them or becoming one of them, here are some of the best options based on your school of thought. Here are some of the most popular diets of the 2010s that are used to lose weight and touted as sustainable lifestyles.
The Ketogenic Diet
This diet is not unlike similar predecessors such as the Atkins diet, the Dukan diet and Paleo. All of these diets assert that you should cut out complex carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and cereal and eat more animal protein. When Dr Atkins first came up with this idea in the 1970s it shook the world of nutrition to its core (the world of nutrition having seemingly completely forgotten about the Victorian craze for ‘Banting’, from whence Atkins got the idea in the first place). Suddenly people were ignoring the standard nutritional advice of high-carbohydrate, low-fat eating by their millions and dropping weight at a rapid pace. Dr Dukan put his own spin on the diet by reducing the fat into what was essentially a low-fat protein and vegetable diet.
The vast majority of medics and nutritional experts at the time put low-carbohydrate eating down to a fad, and with Atkins dead (from a fall, not his diet) and Dukan struck off the medical register, it seemed it may be swallowed by time as Banting once was. Then something new emerged. The idea was already known to anyone who has read 2002’s Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, in whose depths lies a short passage about the near-mythical ‘fat fast’.
The basis of the ketogenic diet (keto) is that we should get the majority of our energy from fat. The extraordinary thing about keto is that not only is it a way to lose weight, it also claims to treat epilepsy and to even starve cancer cells. These are big claims that are still being researched. What the medical community is beginning to agree on is that fewer carbs and more vegetables and healthy fats is a good idea. This way of eating can purportedly slow ageing and reverse diabetes.
Nutrition Course for this Diet
Matthew’s Friends Clinic
The Vegan Diet
Veganism is the practice of not eating, drinking or using anything that comes from an animal. The popularity of veganism has rocketed this decade, the movement being spurred on by some powerful documentaries. Arguments raged, products hit the shelves and celebrities jumped on the bandwagon. It seemed, and to a great extent still does seem, to be the miracle cure to save animals, ourselves and the planet. Very recently the tide has turned slightly, with many formerly strict vegan vloggers returning to some animal products for their health and new information about sustainable farming.
Veganism is not by definition healthy. How healthy the diet depends on individual efforts. Plenty of vegans transform their health through well-planned, nutritionally balanced meals while others exist on crisps. There are also different variations of the diet, such as Raw Veganism, nutrition courses for which are worth looking into if that’s your (cold-pressed, sugar-free) jam.
Nutrition Course for this Diet
Centre of Excellence
Another bastion for reversing diabetes, the radical idea is that not eating all day long could be good for you. It rose in popularity way back in 2013 with the advent of the 5:2, which advocates restricting calories to 500 for women or 600 for men for two days a week. Since then the idea has branched out, with forms such as eating within an eight-hour window. Its health benefits reportedly include keeping your weight down, lengthening your life and improving brain function. There is even evidence to suggest that with your body not being busy with digestion, it can focus on cleaning up waste tissue. This process, known as autophagy, has resulted in fasters seeing their acne and even scars disappear.
The biggest advantage of fasting is its ability to regulate insulin. Because of this, it plays a role in managing and even reversing diabetes. Dr Michael Mosley combined fasting with the low-carb idea, cured his diabetes and wrote The Blood Sugar Diet.
Nutrition Course for this Diet
There is such variety in nutrition courses available and real dieticians are passionate about their subject. Real nutrition is not about creating picture-perfect dishes for social media with ingredients that nobody’s ever heard of. As a dietician, it’s important to remember that you will be treating real people. People who have all kinds of needs and means. Somebody with IBS and a high income won’t need the same advice as somebody with IBS and a low income. There is a common belief that eating healthily is too expensive but this is influenced by food choices and organisation. While it’s completely true that a bag of chicken nuggets is cheaper than a pack of chicken fillets, eating healthily on a budget is usually possible with a bit of know-how.
There is some amazing information out there about cheap nutrition. Bloggers can be really resourceful with creating realistic, nutritious food. One of the absolute best is Jack Monroe. She learned to cook good food for herself and her son when times were hard. It’s well worth checking out her blog, Cooking on a Bootstrap. Healthy food blogs can be a goldmine of information. They can help to keep your passion (even more) alive while you study your nutrition course. You could even write one yourself.