If you are interested in nutrition, and want to help people to improve their health, becoming a Nutritional Therapist (or Dietician) could be for you. What we eat (and how we look after ourselves) can have a big impact on our health and wellbeing, and small changes can make a big difference. If this is something you feel you’d like to pursue, here’s some information you should know.
What does a Nutritional Therapist do?
A Nutritional Therapist is trained to look at health-related symptoms, and determine if these are caused, or made worse by, deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals. These could include a range of symptoms from dry skin or a rash to fatigue, insomnia, stomach pains and much more. Therapists aim to find the root cause of a symptom or diagnosed condition, and treat it through dietary changes or the introduction of vitamin or mineral supplements, as required. A Dietician is also trained to assess symptoms, but they tend to concentrate more on helping someone with a pre-diagnosed condition such as diabetes or obesity, and often see patients or clients that have been referred by their GP or healthcare professional.
Roles and responsibilities
Key skills and traits required include:
- Excellent understanding of nutrition and how different foods affect the body
- Friendly, calm manner
- Good communication skills
- Problem solving abilities
- Business management skills (as you will often work alone)
A day in the life of a Nutritional Therapist
A typical day would involve one-to-one client meetings and assessments. You could be helping new clients, or having recurring sessions with existing clients to see what progress they are making following your recommendations. You would need an office or clinic to work in, and should expect to work standard office hours.
How to become a Nutritional Therapist
To work in this field, you will need a high level of knowledge in nutrition. Our BSc (Hons) Food and Nutrition or BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Nutrition, which is endorsed by the Sport & Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr), will give you a good grounding in this area. There are qualifications in nutritional therapy at diploma, degree and Master’s level, but if you choose to complete one of these, it is best to undertake one that is accredited by a professional body such as the Nutritional Therapy Education Commission (NTEC) or the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT). You will then be able to apply to be on the voluntary register held by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). To practise, you must belong to one of these professional bodies and have valid insurance.
Explore our nutrition-related courses
If this is an area you’d like to pursue, but already have a degree, take a look at our MSc in Dietetics.