Suzie Walker has been a nutritionist for nearly ten years, having worked both as a consultant for various food brands and running her own clinic in Berkshire. Currently her time is split between private consultations, being a mum to her young daughter Grace and running her own brand of wholefood natural food bars, The Primal Pantry (www.primalpantry.com).
Here she shares her top ten tips on how to become a successful nutritionist…
1) Make sure you're passionate about nutrition
It sounds obvious, but before starting your training make sure nutrition is something you're truly passionate about. Whilst a career in nutrition can vary massively, and there are many different areas you can work in, whichever way you look at it you're going to be talking about food and drink every working day, it won't take long for you to lose interest if you're not passionate about it!
2) Never stop learning
Nutrition is one of the fastest moving areas of science. Don't think you'll finish your training and will know it all. One day a nutrient can be arch enemy number one and the next research can uncover something we didn't know before and everything we thought we knew about that nutrient can be flipped on its head.
3) Research the different areas you could work in beforehand
There are probably more areas of nutritional work you can go into than you think, from working as an NHS dietician to being a brand consultant for a major brand, and everything in between. It will be beneficial to have an idea of the area you want to end up in before you set out on your educational path as this will help guide which modules you take and subjects you specialise in.
4) Make up your own mind
Don't just assume that because your teachers say something it makes it the absolute truth. As mentioned above, nutrition is constantly changing and your tutor may have outdated views. Always do your own reading as well.
5) Don't believe marketing hype
Whatever you do don't take any newspaper headlines you read regarding nutrition at face value. There may be some truth in newspaper articles, but often they are written to shock and have brands driving them with their own agendas. Again, do your own research.
6) Expect it to take a lot of hard work and determination
Studying nutrition should not be a breeze, it is a science after all. The subject is vast and is constantly changing, not to mention it is FULL of opinions. Courses take anywhere from 3-6 years, some are part time but require extensive amounts of study time in your 'free' time. Medical journals, textbooks, case studies all will become part of your study repertoire.
7) Research 'where' you want to study
As with any educational course you take, find out which college or University best fits your needs. Do you want to study part time or full time? Which course is held in the most regard by future employers? What extra-curricular activities are offered? Find something that suits ALL your needs.
8) Be flexible with your work expectations
Many nutritionists, as with me, work more than one job. Perhaps they'll do a couple of days a week for the NHS and then two days a week consulting.
Sometimes, especially in areas like sports nutrition, you may have to start on a low paid job working a couple of days a week to make inroads into the industry. Be patient and work your way up - you won't regret it!
9) Don't just talk the talk
If you should 'never trust a skinny chef' you probably shouldn't trust an out of shape unfit nutritionist. Make sure you 'do as you say' and you'll help build trust and confidence in your clients.
10) Enjoy it
I love working in nutrition and get a huge sense of satisfaction from helping improve people's lives and health. If you're passionate about nutrition you'll have an amazing time in this industry.
To find out more about Suzie's range of natural whole food energy and protein bars visit www.primalpantry.com