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You can’t open a newspaper or turn on the television without encountering something to do with your diet, nutrition or health, even if it’s just an advert for the latest health food or probiotic yoghurt.
As a society, we’re more aware of our health than ever before, but we’re also aware of how little we know about our anatomy and health. There’s still so much more to explore and that’s where the study of nutrition comes in.
When we talk about nutrition, we’re referring to the supply of materials (food) that are essential to keeping a cell or organism alive. The study of nutrition is essentially the science of the human body’s relationship with foods and how we consume and use them.
These days, nutrition studies focus largely on how our bodies use foods and how our metabolisms work. That is, the biochemical steps through which food and substances are transformed from one form to another. Nutritionists also explore the relationship between diet, health and disease, researching how a healthy diet could help to prevent diseases and medical conditions, as well as how our dietary choices might promote certain diseases.
So maybe you don’t dream of discovering the next big superfood or helping people to manage medical conditions, but those are not the only reasons for studying nutrition.
Developing your knowledge in nutrition will give you a better understanding of how your own body works and how it responds to the substances you’re putting in it. This will encourage you to consume foods more conscientiously, ensuring that your body gets what it needs to perform the best it can.
For this reason, many athletes study nutrition when they’re looking for ways to improve their performance for an edge over the competition. Remember when world-class tennis player Novak Djokovic cut out gluten in 2010? That was a result of research into nutrition!
Poor nutrition has been identified as the root of a number of diseases. Although it goes without saying that conditions like hypoglycaemia, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular issues are heavily influenced by dietary factors, did you know that conditions like rheumatoid arthritis respond well to dietary changes too? Mental conditions can also be affected by your diet, including depression, anorexia and hyperactivity in children.
When it comes to medicine patients are increasingly moving away from synthetic medication that treats the symptoms in favour of holistic approaches that treat the cause; nutrition plays a huge role in that. By learning more about how nutrition affects your wellbeing, you can take ownership over your own health.
If you do dream of finding the next big superfood, studying nutrition in university might be on the menu for you. Professionals in the field often work with people to help them understand the nutritional value of the food that they’re eating, empowering them to lead a healthy lifestyle. They may even create dietary plans for individuals to help them achieve athletic performance goal, manage medical conditions or improve their health. The variety of sectors available to qualified nutritionists is huge, positions can be found in:
Remember that you’re by no means limited to the title of ‘nutritionist’ upon graduating in nutrition! Potential roles include food product development scientist, nutritional therapist, food labelling specialist, food safety auditor, nutrition writer, nutrition educator, humanitarian nutritionist… the list goes on...
Whether you want to pursue a career in nutrition or just learn a little more about how you could live a healthier lifestyle, there are several routes you can take in your study.
If you consider studying nutrition primarily as a hobby, you’ve probably considered learning independently.
And why not? By teaching yourself you can work at your own pace and study as much as your schedule (or whim) permits. You can also focus your studies on the specific areas that appeal to you whether that’s sports nutrition, nutrition for disease prevention or nutrition for children. There’s no shortage of free learning resources available to you either, with websites like nutrition.org.uk providing blogs and fact sheets, as well as information about extra nutrition events and talks that might pique your interest… All you really need is a library card and access to the internet!
Independent learning can be hugely rewarding but be wary: although there are loads of excellent free resources on the internet, nutrition is a science and it’s important to ensure that your sources are both trustworthy and up to date (remember that the consequence of misinformation is your health). You’ll also need to put some time into ensuring that your learning is structured, thorough and progressive so that you don’t lose motivation.
For a more structured learning experience, many students enrol in online courses for nutrition studies.
As we’re becoming increasingly attentive to what we’re consuming, nutrition studies have surged in popularity which means there’s an abundance online nutrition courses out there for you to choose from. Professionally minded learners might consider signing up to a distance learning university courses whereas those just hoping to explore a new subject might be more interested in free online courses.
Websites such as FutureLearn, OpenLearn (from the Open University) and MIT Open Courseware offer short courses that offer an introduction to the study of nutrition (e.g. The Science of Nutrition and Healthy Eating) to specialist courses that help you get to grips with a new niche (e.g. The Food as Medicine Series or Superfoods: Myths and Truths).
These free courses can run from anywhere between 2 – 8 weeks and provide a forum on which you can to chat to other participants about what you've learned. However, they are only available within a limited timeframe. With no tutor to give you a gentle reminder about your studies and deadlines, it’s on you to ensure that you stay on top of your work and complete the course before the deadline.
Online courses are excellent for those looking to develop their theoretical knowledge of nutritional sciences in a structured way, but they lack the personal touch of in-person lessons and don’t take your personal learning goals and aspirations into account. Many people study nutrition with the goal of using their knowledge to improve their own health or athletic performance, so how do you jump from learning the theory to creating your own nutrition plans?
This can be a hard gap to bridge, so many learners choose to study nutrition with a private tutor who can help them to apply their knowledge.
By studying nutrition with a private tutor, you can play an active role in directing your studies to meet your learning goals and aspirations. If you’re hoping to boost your athletic performance, your private tutor could focus your sessions around nutrition for athletes. If nutrition in healthcare is your priority, talk to your private tutor about tailoring your sessions to these interests. Or if you’re looking to study nutrition at a higher level, ask your private tutor for help with boosting your grades to meet the admissions requirements.
Your private tutor only has one student: you! This means that they can adapt to your needs and interests, give you detailed feedback on areas for improvement and track your progress to help you stay motivated.
Finally, you can meet your private tutor as often as you want to, working at a pace that suits your learning style and a regularity that fits in with your schedule. Why make learning a new subject any more stressful than it needs to be?
So how to you find a private tutor for nutrition?
There are plenty of avenues to explore when looking for a new private tutor, from rifling through the ads in your local newspaper to asking for recommendations from friends, but Superprof is the most simple and effective platform available.
Superprof is dedicated to bringing tutors and learners together, helping passionate experts share their knowledge with those who love to learn. We have a pool of over 2,000 nutrition tutors across the UK with various backgrounds, from sports performance coaching to healthcare. Each tutor sets their rate based on their own experience, the ability level taught, the demand for the subject and their geographical location, so there are prices to suit every budget.
2,000 tutors! That sounds like a lot to filter through, right? Fear not, our platform is set up to make finding the right tutor for you as easy as possible. Choose your location (or online tuition if you prefer), set your maximum budget and browse through the results. Once you’ve found some tutors who seem like a good fit, you can easily compare their backgrounds and methodologies on their profiles. Recommendations from previous students give you a good idea of their teaching style too. Finally, most tutors offer a free taster session so that you can try out their class before parting with any money. What’s not to love?
Browse through our pool of nutrition tutors today!