“You can't just eat good food. You've got to talk about it too. And you've got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.     

Kurt Vonnegut"

Nigerians of this age eat more processed food than balanced home-cooked meals. It is easier for an average Nigerian to work into a fast food joint to get a wrap of shawarma, fries, or a burger than having to get home to cook a balanced diet that contains all the basic classes of food the body needs.

However, there will come a time when the average Nigerian will realise that the food they take has adverse effects on their health, and they would need to make positive changes and begin to eat healthily. Making that decision then begs the question of where can you get the best help to improve your health; a nutritionist is the best person to consult in such a case because they are the professionals in the field of formulating a balanced meal.

A nutritionist is a professional who encourages and promotes healthy eating by creating meal plans for individuals based on their knowledge of the individual, such as the person's body type, present weight, targeted weight to achieve, and many more.

Moreover, to become a nutritionist in Nigeria involves various steps and qualifications, which include studying at an accredited university for four years. You must also possess skills, such as analytical thinking, people skills, excellent communication skills, and technical know-how. These skills will help you with your jobs.

  1. Analytical thinking: this is an essential skill for a nutritionist. Being a nutritionist involves you having the ability to solve problems, using the knowledge of nutrition to create meal plans for clients (patients as the case may be), and also understand how scientific information comes to play in your decision making.
  2. People skills: In nutritionist jobsyou will work with different people with different orientations. You must be able to listen attentively to get to know the clients' goals and concerns, which will require you to allow the client to finish speaking without cutting in. Creating rapport and building trust with your clients is also very important.
  3. Excellent communication: you must possess the ability to communicate both speaking and in writing. Most of the information you are working with is scientific pieces of information; you must be able to explain complicated information to the client in a layman's language for their better understanding of the information you are trying to pass across to them.
  4. Technical know-how: As a nutritionist, you will have to work with various equipment and tools. For example, the glucose meter is commonly used to measure the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The bioelectrical impedance machine is used to estimate the body composition and calorimeter to gauge metabolism; you must know how to operate these tools and equipment.

Understanding What a Nutritionist Does

Meat and vegetables
Nutritionists are responsible for creating meal plans suitable for the human body (Source: Unsplash)

Also, knowing and understanding the work of a nutritionist will help you to decide on how to become a registered nutritionist in Nigeria, by joining the Institute for Dietetics in Nigeria (IDN).

As a nutritionist, there are varieties of places you can work, which include but not limited to public sectors such as nursing homes, schools, hospitals and factories, and private sectors like private gym, individual clients, and many more.

Mostly, there are various categories of a nutritionist that exist, and you can fall into any of the types depending on your interest, post-degree qualification (masters degree, specialised courses, advanced training e.t.c), and clientele. You can work in different parastatals as a Sports nutritionist, public health nutritionist, and also as a Food nutritionist.

Sports nutritionist works with athletes during preparation for the competition, while the competition is ongoing and also during recovery. They counsel, encourage and even create meal plans to help athletes perform excellently well.

Food nutritionists work mostly in private sectors such as food-producing companies. The food nutritionist analyses the food ingredients, science, and market policies of the food product before the food product has to be realised to the market for sale. They ensure that the preservatives and ingredients used in the food products are not harmful to consumers' health, and they also meet the government standards.

Public health nutritionists work in public sectors such as hospitals, schools, and universities. They ensure that health policies are up to standard. The nutritionist job is to advise patients, create meal plans and also monitor as well as encourage patients to stay true to the program.

Professional Qualification Required for Those Working in Nutrition

graduate nutritionist
Studying nutrition courses avails you the opportunity to understand the importance of a healthy diet. (Source: unsplash)

In as much as some people are working as a nutritionist without any form of professional qualification in Nigeria, many employers or organisations prefer to employ people who possess a BSc degree in Nutritional Science or any related course and are registered with Institute for Dietetics in Nigeria (IDN). Therefore to become a nutritionist Nigeria you have to possess a BSc degree in Nutrition; it takes four years of study in an accredited university where you are taught the correlation between diet and health.

The decision to study have to start from your secondary school days, you will need to have credit in subjects such as biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, and English in your O'level examination. Looking for where to study nutrition?; any accredited university in Nigeria, is your best option.

You will be on internship with different companies and organisations during the third year of your study, and this will allow you to acquire knowledge on the practical aspect of your study.

"The decision to study have to start from your secondary school days, you will need to have credit in subjects such as biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, and English in your O'level examination"

Helpful Tips From the Best Nutritionists

Glass of water
The importance of water to your entire body cannot be overemphasized. (Source: Unsplash)

You can improve your overall health by eating balanced diets, food that contains minerals and vitamins such as vegetables, fruits, dairy, and whole grains. Proper nutrition is the main key to a healthy life.

The main reason why people eat unhealthy is that they don't have the knowledge of foods which are healthy for consumption. Some of the most useful health tips recommended by nutritionists are listed below.

  • Use plenty of herbs and spices in your meal: There are lots of herbs and spices that are available such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, e.tc. Ginger and turmeric have various health benefits in them because they have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the body after consumption.
  • Minimal sugar intake: Ensure you take a low amount of sugar, large quantities can harm your health. High amount of sugar intake has been connected to a large number of sicknesses and diseases such as diabetes (type 2), heart disease, obesity, and many more.
  • Eat enough healthy protein: Research shows that plant protein such as beans are much healthier compared to animal protein; thus, they should be eaten more often. Although eating animal protein such as chicken, beef, pork is not forbidden, it should be eaten occasionally. Healthier protein makes you feel full, which helps reduce any form of craving. Taking adequate healthy protein has also shown to lower the blood sugar and even the blood pressure.
  • Eat vegetables and fruits: Nutritionists recommended a high daily intake of fruits and vegetables because vegetables and fruits are rich in vitamins, a lot of antioxidants, minerals, and prebiotic fiber. Studies show that those who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables live longer, and they are at a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
  • Drink more water: Drinking water is has a lot of health benefits, such as helping to maintain your digestive system; it flushes toxins and also prevent headaches. Also, drinking water can boost the number of calories you burn and also increase weight loss when taken before a meal by 44 percent.
  • Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is very important. Poor sleep has been traced to one of the factors that cause weight gain and obesity, poor sleep can also disrupt your appetite, hormones, and reduce your physical and mental performance.
  • Eat nuts: Nuts are very nutritious and healthy; they contain fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, and other nutrients. Studies show that nuts boost your body metabolism, help you lose weight, and may help fight type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast: Many people skip breakfast, which in turn makes them feed on junk food during the day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, starting your day with foods such as greek yogurt, fresh fruits, boiled eggs, and whole-grain bread will completely lighten up your mood and also make you very satisfied.

The above list of healthy tips is a few from many advice given by Nutritionist. These tips should be followed by people who aim at having a healthy life through healthy eating and healthy practices. It would be best if you sort for a nutritionist who is registered with the Institute for Dietetics in Nigeria (IDN).

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