** This is an updated post**
Being well informed about nutrition can help you live your best life.
We have more information than ever before about the effects of healthy eating and good nutrition. But understanding the hows and whys of good nutrition can shine an interesting light on different aspects of our lives.
There are many reasons to undertake a nutrition course. But aside from gaining insights into the way food affects our health, the ever-improving job outlook is also a solid reason.
Whether you’re wanting to understand a bit more behind the science of healthy eating for your own benefit, or you’re interested in pursuing a career in nutrition, finding the right nutrition course could make a big difference in your life.
What is the role of a Nutritionist?
There is no national standard needed to call yourself a Nutritionist in Australia and the term Nutritionist can be used freely by people with a range of backgrounds. People with a Certificate IV in Nutrition & Dietetics can call themselves a Nutritionist but those who study and attain a certificate in a non-accredited programme may also call themselves a Nutritionist. As such, it’s important for Nutritionists to advertise and promote the qualifications they’ve achieved.
Nutritionists can use their knowledge to educate and advise people on healthy eating habits and how food can affect their overall health and wellbeing.
Sometimes, people who are qualified in other areas of the health sector – like Personal Trainers or Counsellors – may also look at studying a qualification in nutrition to expand on their existing skillset. This adds an extra layer to the services they can offer their clients.
What is the role of a Dietitian?
Dietitians are tertiary qualified in food, nutrition and dietetics. Dietitians may work in many of the same settings as Nutritionists, such as public health and community nutrition, research and teaching, food industry and nutrition marketing and communications. However, Dietitians are also qualified to work in hospitals and the medical nutrition industry.
The key difference between a Dietitian and a nutritionist is that, in addition to or as part of their qualification in human nutrition, a Dietitian has undertaken a course of study that includes substantial theory and supervised and assessed professional practice in clinical nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and food service management.
In Australia, all dietitians are considered to be Nutritionists, but Nutritionists without a dietetics qualification cannot work as Dietitians. With the health and wellness industry currently booming, there are increasingly large numbers of desirable career options available for those with substantial study in either nutrition or dietetics.
Studying nutrition to help yourself and others
There are plenty of reasons to study a course in nutrition, whether you’re looking to better look after yourself or because you want to help others in a professional capacity.
Our lifestyles and eating habits continue to change dramatically compared to previous decades. We’re aware of the importance of exercise and healthy eating, and how our diet choices also affect the world around us. For example, do you think twice about choosing products that don’t use sustainable ingredients or harvesting techniques?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics also has some pretty daunting figures.
The latest available figures show that:
- In 2017–18, 67% of Australian adults were overweight or obese – or around 12.5 million people. This is an increase from 63.4% in 2014–15.
- In 2017-18, a greater proportion of men aged 18 years and over were overweight or obese (74.5%) compared to women (59.7%)
- 24.9% of children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese in 2017-18. However, despite nearly a quarter of children in this age bracket being classed as such, this figure has remained steady over the last decade.
A recent study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare also showed that there was a direct link between people eating out or ordering takeaway, leading to poor health. The study found that there was a prevalence of 'moderate abdominal obesity' among people who ate takeaway food more than once a week.
Excess weight has been linked to a number of serious health options, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.
Poor eating habits can also lead to other problems besides obesity, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, and an increased risk of stroke.
The importance of understanding nutrition for mental health
On the other hand, healthy eating habits can have an incredible effect on your mind and body. Not only can good eating habits improve your physical health, thus limiting the risks of developing a chronic disease, but they can also improve your mental health.
Eating well can help you sleep better, improve your concentration and mood, and generally help you to live a better life.
Takeout every now and then can be a special treat. But if you’re eating fatty, greasy, unhealthy food with little to no vegetables all the time, how do you think that would make you feel? You’d probably start to feel sluggish and fatigued, and maybe even a little depressed. That’s because saturated fats can decrease brain function and make it harder to concentrate; while sugar gives you an instant energy boost which almost immediately fades, leaving you restless and tired.
However, a healthy diet that consists of the right amount of fruit, veggies, nuts and wholegrains can do wonders for your mental health.
For example, did you know that fermented foods (such as kombucha, sauerkraut and unsweetened yoghurt) affect the same parts of your brain as anti-depressants? That’s a natural pick me up.
There are plenty of great reasons to study a nutrition course, whether you’re wanting to better look after your own health, your family’s health, or use your knowledge in a professional capacity.
Studying health services online
If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in dietetics or nutrition, you could begin by studying the HLT33115 Certificate III in Health Services Assistance.
This course will qualify you to work in an assistant position in health services – such as at a hospital, an aged care facility or a private clinic. This qualification is the first step to beginning a career in the ever-expanding health sector in Australia.
The HLT33115 Certificate III in Health Services Assistance covers subjects such as how to recognise a healthy body system, workplace health and safety, working with diverse people and how to effectively work alongside other health professionals.
If you’re thinking of going on to study a nutrition or dietetics course, the HLT33115 Certificate III in Health Services Assistance could act as a complementary qualification and help you reach your career goals.