First off, Happy National Nutrition Month too all my fellow healthy foodies!
As many of you know, I am almost finished with a degree in community nutrition which credits me to become a Licensed Nutritionist in my home state of North Dakota (and enables me to apply for licensure in other states) once I graduate. (Complete list of states in link at bottom of page from the American Academy of N&D).
Because this month celebrates dietitians & nutritionists and everything we do for the field of health, I am sharing with you why I chose to purse a degree in nutrition. I’ve wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember but we’ll save that story for another day. However, because I am pursuing medicine, I often find myself explaining why I’m currently studying nutrition but still want to go to medical school. Here’s my story!
During my sophomore year of high school, I was required to take a health course. My classmates and I were taught the standard, “don’t abuse alcohol, don’t smoke or use drugs, use two forms of birth control.” Along with those important components of health, we were also taught about a healthy lifestyle through exercise, practicing a healthy mindset, and that of proper nutrition. I was intrigued when we talked about the MyPlate guidelines and how adequate nutrition affects a athletic performance – reasons I still love nutrition to this day. But what really got to me was watching a few documentaries in class.
One of the documentaries was on adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet that proved regression of several chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, and dramatic weight loss of those suffering with obesity. This blew my mind. As a 16-year-old, I had no idea how important diet and overall nutrition was.
The other documentary, which many of you have seen, was SuperSize Me. Morgan Spurlock documents eating McDonalds for every meal for one month in duration. He experiences first-hand the effects of fast food through gastrointestinal illness, elevated blood cholesterol, and a rapid, unhealthy weight gain. (If you haven’t seen it, you should). Find it here:
Being a knowledge-hungry high school student as well as an athlete, these films sparked my interest and inspired me to change my then moderately-healthy diet into a diet that had me feeling better and enhancing my athletic performance. Through this process, I found myself becoming more and more interested in the field of nutrition and why these things make your body work so well. It was amazing to me that if you feed your body right, it works even better that you could ever imagine, and ultimately, you are in control of your health. I wanted to share this with others.
My junior year of high school approached and I began my first part-time job: a dietary aide in the hospital. I worked with several nutrition & dietetics students and began talking to them about their field of study (Nicole, if you’re reading this, I’m talking about you)! It was very apparent that these students were passionate about their future careers. I did my research in schools and programs, and from there, I knew I was going to purse a bachelor’s degree in nutrition. Now, my degree nearly complete, I haven’t thought twice about it.
What does this have to do with medical school? If you are planning to apply to medical school like myself, you may pick any undergraduate major to complete your 4 year degree in; as long as you complete the prerequisites required for medical school (AAMC) and take the MCAT. It is recommended applicants major in a field of study that they are passionate about andI am so grateful I will have a bachelor’s degree in something I love.
So overall, why nutrition?
1. The top 2 causes of death in the United States are heart disease & cancer (CDC). Both have a strong correlation with diet and can reversed through medical nutrition therapy and prevented through nutrition education. If we continue to educate our country, the prevalence of these chronic diseases may be lessened, and our country may live longer and have a better quality of life overall.
2. I love all things food, nutrition, fitness, and feeling well. Being educated on what our bodies need to feel all these things, I hope to lead through example for my future clients and patients.
3. Nutrition is a fairly new scientific field. We as students and practitioners are always learning new things about the effects of certain foods, nutrients, and diseases through dietary intake. It’s progressive, new, and exciting to be a part of.
I, like many others, am eager to see the progression of our country’s overall heath through the effects of proper nutrition. It is apparent that we as a country are becoming more progressive in health trends and *not to brag BUT* my generation is spreading the word about living healthy lifestyles through social media platforms promoting nutrition, fitness, and healthy living – it’s quite amazing!
Let’s keep a good thing going!
Thanks for reading, and green smoothie cheers to my fellow nutritionistas! Happy National Nutrition Month!
“Let food be thy medicine.” -Hippocrates