Category: Nutrition

What Can You Do with a Nutrition Degree?

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cooking with a nutrition degree

What can I do with a Degree in Nutrition?

You love learning about food and its role in influencing health. You’ve experienced firsthand how a personalized diet can revitalize your physical and emotional well-being. You have a passion for helping other people prevent or manage a chronic disease, achieve their health goals, and feel empowered by their lifestyle. Whatever your reason for pursuing a nutrition degree, our team at the Maryland University of Integrative Health is honored to help you get started on your journey!

Keep reading to learn more about the different careers in nutrition and what your path toward starting one may look like.

Careers in Nutrition

With a faster-the-average projected job growth and so many settings to work in—including hospitals, schools, nursing homes, clinics, or even entrepreneurial or government fields—nutritionists can expect a wide range of opportunities to help people improve their health and quality of life and reduce healthcare costs. Nutritionists also regularly collaborate with other professionals and providers—including physicians, nurse practitioners, chiropractors, mental health counselors, teachers, and public health officials—and play a key role in ensuring patients receive comprehensive and personalized care.

Here are just a few examples of what a career in nutrition could look like for you:

Clinical Nutrition

Clinical nutritionists provide individual, family, and group counseling to people of any and all ages who need help changing their diet, achieving their health goals, correcting nutritional deficiencies, and managing chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to arthritis.

Functional Nutrition

Functional medicine is an integrative, systems-based field of medicine that focuses on addressing the root cause of disease and optimizing individual well-being. As a branch of functional medicine, functional nutrition incorporates this holistic philosophy into the prescription and implementation of whole foods diets and individualized supplementation programs.

Nutritional Therapist

Nutrition therapy is an exciting field that combines the insights of food science with human behavior. Nutrition therapists support and guide patients on their health and/or weight loss journeys by helping them modify their mindset, habits, and beliefs surrounding food and diets.

Public Health Nutrition

As a career in public health nutrition, you can work with elected officials and other professionals to make a larger-scale impact through nutrition. You’ll work less often with clients on a one-on-one basis but instead offer your expertise for the development of programs and policies that help improve nutrition in schools and communities while integrating the unique aspects of your target demographic (e.g., culture, needs, cost).

Nutrition Education and Research

Earning a degree or certification in nutrition education and research allows you to get involved in the latest advancements and innovations in nutrition science, lead or assist with research studies, and even teach others who are interested in following in your footsteps into a nutrition career, whether at the secondary or college level.

Private Practice/Consulting

Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Do you dream of opening your own business? Do you desire flexibility and agency over your career? Do you love working one-on-one with people? If so, working in private practice or even as a consultant can be an excellent path to pursue. Thanks to the advent of telemedicine, you can even provide your valuable services from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere your career takes you.

Business and Industry Nutritionist

This career path allows you to work with organizations and companies that seek to reduce healthcare costs, promote healthy changes within their workplace culture, and improve the lives of their employees.

International Food Organizations

Around the world, there are so many incredible organizations and charities doing the hard work of helping underserved or at-risk populations. These organizations rely on expert input from professionals like you to make the most cost-effective and impactful decisions possible. If you have big goals (e.g., ending world hunger, improving access to care), a career-focused in international food organizations could be ideal for you.

Are nutritionists in high demand?

Nutritionists are in high demand right now. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this diverse and exciting career field is projected to see an 8 percent growth over the next decade—much faster than average.

How do I start a career in nutrition?

Getting your career started as a nutritionist typically requires at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, which requires four years to complete. Many people who enter the nutrition field end up pursuing a master’s or doctorate level degree in clinical nutrition and integrative health, both of which are offered at MUIH.

As part of their degree fulfillment, nutritionists-in-training also need to undergo supervised training via internships. Internships provide valuable opportunities for degree candidates to hone their skills and integrate their education into a real-world setting. Depending on the state, nutritionists will also need to pass a certifying exam, earn specific credentials (e.g., Certified Nutrition Specialty), and become licensed to practice.

As a nutritionist, you can expand your career opportunities and depth of knowledge by pursuing advanced training and voluntary certifications offered by organizations such as The American Council on Exercise, the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board, the American Association of Nutrition Consultants, and the American Fitness Professionals & Associates.

Can I become a nutritionist online?

Are you a working professional who would like to start or advance your career in nutrition, but are concerned that you don’t have the time to fulfill the course requirements? Don’t worry! It’s possible to become a nutritionist online by enrolling in accredited online nutrition programs, such as the ones offered at MUIH. These competitive yet highly rewarding programs give you the education and training you need to become a nutritionist while giving you the convenience and flexibility you need to pursue your potential, even with your busy schedule.

MUIH’s Master of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health is consistently ranked among the top 10 online master’s in nutrition programs in the U.S.

Conclusion

Nutrition is a rapidly expanding and diverse career field that stands to offer degree candidates a variety of job opportunities. If you’re interested in entering a career that can make a difference in people’s lives and help you gain a better, more holistic understanding of food, get in touch with MUIH to learn more about our advanced, industry-leading degree programs in nutrition.

Culinary Health and Healing: A Personal Statement

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What we eat; Does it really define who we are? Food has always been central to my life. My journey with food began creating absurd after-school snacks with whatever we could find in the cupboard to becoming sous chef of a Michelin-starred fine-dining kitchen. Food taught me how to savor the moment, how to focus and work hard, how to appreciate cultures other than my own, and how to connect with people around me. It’s a common denominator – we all need it.  

But cooking in restaurants isn’t enough. There is too much pain, too much disparity, too much waste, too much sacrifice at all levels of the food system to ignore. As my passion, I knew I wanted to focus on food but in a healthy and sustainable way. So, I left the restaurant, but I stayed in the kitchen. After studying nutrition at MUIH I now manage community nutrition literacy programming, supporting underserved populations to take back control of their own health and healing through culinary skills training and wellness practices.  

MUIH is accepting applications for the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Culinary Health and Healing. This 8-month program is designed for individuals who want to reconnect to something essential for life. What does it mean to use food and cooking for personal and public good? If you are a chef looking to pivot your career, a caregiver for the chronically ill, a non-profit leader helping feed your community, a home-cook wanting to raise a healthy family, or if you are simply curious about nutrition and self-care – this is an opportunity to focus on how what we eat does define who we are. The food we consume impacts not just our bodies but our mentalities, economies, communities, and environments. It is essential that we understand these connections so that we can help build a healthier world from our kitchens. 

 

Christina Vollbrecht 
Adjunct Faculty/Cooking Lab Manager/Nutrition Literacy Outreach Programs 
MUIH MS Nutrition and Integrative Health Alumni 

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Culinary Health and Healing: Self-Efficacy and Community Health from the Kitchen

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Making healthy meal

Cooking is about more than flavor! A focus of MUIH’s new Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Culinary Health and Healing is giving students information they need to take back control of their own health and the tools they need to share this nutritional literacy with their communities. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has stressed our food and health care systems to the breaking point, at no fault of the individuals devoted to these industries. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allotted more assistance to families and individuals in 2020 than in the history of the program (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2020) while hospitals are still running at maximum capacity to this day, dealing now with complications related to chronic illness like diabetes and high blood pressure as thousands delayed their medical care over the past year and a half. 

The Culinary Health and Healing curriculum provides students with the contextual, culinary, nutritional, and teaching background needed to make a significant difference in their communities. Malnutrition is more than not having enough to eat, it is not having the right food to eat, and is directly associated with the development of chronic disease and obesity. The multidimensional problem of malnutrition is related to culture, industry, the economy, politics, agriculture, education, healthcare, and inequitable division of power and resources. But there are accessible ways to regain individual health autonomy and prevent chronic disease in our communities. 

The program offers culinary skills training in addition to providing a solid introduction to behavior change, culinary education, and mindful eatingNutritional literacy is defined as individual knowledge, motivation, competencies, and awareness of one’s relationship to food, the food system, and nutrition (Vettori et al., 2019). Research and experience have demonstrated that higher nutritional literacy strengthens one’s self-efficacy, increases positive health behavior change, and returns power to the individual. This program combines knowledge with increased behavioral confidence for the students themselves and provides training for students to share this knowledge with others.  

MUIH is now accepting applications from individuals for the Spring 2022 start for this Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Culinary Health and Healing. We’re looking for applicants who want to understand the science of cooking and make a positive impact on their own health and wellness in addition to becoming leaders in a quickly changing food and health landscape through sustainable and equitable nourishment practices. 

How to Become a Certified Nutrition Specialist

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certified nutrition specialist program

How to Become a Certified Nutrition Specialist

A Certified Nutrition Specialist® (CNS®) is an advanced credential offered by the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists℠ (BCNS℠). Certified Nutrition Specialists are whole food experts who practice nutrition therapy using a science-informed, personalized approach to help people optimize health, manage or prevent disease, and improve their quality of life. CNS is the most advanced certification for practitioners of personalized nutrition.

Why become a CNS? This kind of advanced training gives a person the chance to make meaningful, sustainable, and evidence-informed impacts on the health and lives of individuals, families, and communities. Your training and knowledge prove your expertise, boost your credibility as a practitioner of nutrition and dietary science, and enhances your career opportunities within a range of industries, including health care, government, business, and education.

At the Maryland University of Integrative Health, we’ve made the process of becoming a certified nutrition specialist as streamlined as possible. There are multiple paths and steps you can take to earn your CNS credential, and your journey will depend on where you’re coming from. Whether you have a background as a nutritionist, registered dietitian (RD), a medical doctor (MD or DO), or another profession, our university is happy to help you explore this exciting career field.

What Does a Certified Nutrition Specialist Do?

Certified Nutrition Specialists work and make an impact in a variety of settings, including government and social service agencies, food services, hospitals, private practices, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools, and outpatient clinics. Plus, the job and career opportunities for nutrition specialists continue to expand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Typically, certified nutrition specialists will:

  • Help individuals reach health goals or manage chronic diseases by designing and implementing personalized meal and food plans
  • May recommend targeted nutritional and herbal supplements
  • Can interpret laboratory testing
  • Monitor the progress of their clients and provide ongoing feedback and support
  • Provide nutrition education based on the latest research and scientific evidence
  • Play an important role in a health care team

Like RDs, CNSsuse medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to work with people who have a range of health conditions, including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and more. Compared to RDs, however, CNSs are more likely to help with organizing and running community initiatives, public health programs, and food service programs that can have a broader impact on a community or region.

How Much Does a Certified Nutrition Specialist Make?

Since Certified Nutrition Specialists come from so many professional backgrounds and can work in a variety of settings and locations, the expected salary range can vary greatly. Typical salaries range from $58,000 to $80,000 per year or more for positions within outpatient care centers, insurance companies, home health, the federal government, and education. CNSs who also hold other advanced degrees, including DDS, DO, MD, NP, and PA, may earn as much as $120,000 per year or more.

Are There Any Prerequisites to Becoming a Certified Nutrition Specialist?

According to the American Nutrition Association, there are a variety of prerequisites to becoming a CNS. These include:

  • Degrees: candidates must hold a Masters or doctoral degree in Nutrition or other fields of clinical health care (including DC, DDS, APRN, ND, PA, PharmD, or OD) from an accredited institution; an MD or DO are also acceptable
  • Coursework: specific coursework must be completed in topics such as nutrition, biochemistry, behavioral science, and anatomy and physiology; alternatively, a candidate can earn a degree from an ACNPE-accredited program
  • Experience: this can include a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised practice experience with a Board of Certified Nutrition Specialists-approved supervisor as well as internships and personalized nutrition case studies, depending on the individual’s background

Once these prerequisites are fulfilled, hopeful recipients can sit for the CNS exam offered by the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists℠ (BCNS℠). Recertification is also required, which currently includes 75 continuing education credits every 5 years. MUIH also offers Professional and Continuing Education courses to fulfill continuing education requirements.

And did you know? We’ve taken steps at MUIH to facilitate these supervised practice hours by offering our students an optional six-month supervised internship program, which we call the Nutrition Post-Graduate Practice Experience.

Can Anyone Take the Certified Nutrition Specialist Exam?

The Certification Examination for Nutrition Specialists is held twice per year. Anyone who has successfully fulfilled the necessary prerequisites can sit for the exam. You’ll need to organize and provide additional materials in order to sit for your exam, including:

  • Official transcripts from all regionally accredited institutions where any qualifying courses were taken
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • The exam application and associated fees
  • A resume or CV

Are There Different Types of Exams?

Becoming credentialed as a certified nutrition specialist isn’t the only avenue for people who complete their Master of Science in Nutrition & Integrative Health at MUIH. Our successful graduates also become board-eligible for a number of other national board certifications related to nutrition, including:

  • Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN)
  • Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)
  • Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®
  • Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior

Depending on the type of exam you choose to sit for, you may be required to take certain courses or meet additional requirements. For example, our Master’s graduates interested in sitting for the Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition® must take at least one herbal elective course. To sit for the CHES, Master’s graduates must successfully complete the Community Nutrition Education area of concentration. Our friendly staff at MUIH is always happy to help you navigate the rigorous board certification process and ensure you’re prepared.

Conclusion

A degree in Certified Nutrition Specialist/MSNIH opens up many doors to you in the health and wellness profession. Whether you want to work with individuals, families, local communities, charitable organizations, or other agencies, this degree can help you make a serious impact in your niche and establish yourself as a leader in the competitive and evolving field of nutrition.

Did you know that successful graduates of MUIH’s Clinical Nutrition and Herbal Medicine concentrations within our Master of Science in Nutrition & Integrative Health are eligible to sit for the CNS exam from the Certification Board of Nutritional Specialists? Prepare for your examination and accelerate your nutrition with confidence by applying for our Master’s program today.

Interested in learning more about becoming a CNS? Check out our webinars here, and register for our CNS Webinar.

MUIH Faculty Tips: Keep Your Immune System Strong This Winter

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We’ve got a few more weeks left of winter – wouldn’t it be great to stay strong and healthy during this time? We asked several faculty members from our yoga, nutrition, herbal medicine, health and wellness coaching, and acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs to answer this question: What are some of the top tips you’d give a client to help them maintain a strong immune system during this time of year?

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Eat Seasonal: Late Summer/Fall

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eat seasonal, rd to dcn pathway

There are many good reasons why we should eat more local foods. Reducing transport costs and emissions, higher nutritional value, and support of the local economy are all new ways to support the world and the body we live in. Eating seasonally helps us to reconnect to nature’s cycles and the passage of time. But most importantly, local seasonal food is fresher and tends to be tastier and more nutritious.

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