Becoming a nutrition practitioner
Earn a living in a way that engages you as a whole person and is true to your own values.
What we teach
At the NCA we teach nutrition science and practice and our course is accredited by the Nutritional Therapy Education Council (NTEC). This means that when you have completed the first two years of the course you will be eligible to apply to register with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) as a Nutrition Practitioner, and to join the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT). Recently, doctors of Western medicine have been informed that they should only be recommending nutritional therapists from the CNHC register. If you are interested in studying nutrition, but you are unsure of the path you need to take, the following sections will assist you in your choice.
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"I really enjoy learning about all the different types of nutrition, and hearing the guest speakers we have. I also enjoy the clinics and seeing ‘real’ people with proper ailments and knowing we can really make a difference and help people."
Why choose nutrition science and practice?
As a nutrition practitioner you will have the opportunity to work with many different clients who have chronic diseases and need to make changes to improve their quality of life. You will be helping them physically, emotionally and mentally. At the same time you can follow a career path that engages you as a whole person. A nutrition science and practice qualification, and particularly a Masters degree, will also open many up other varied avenues in the field of nutrition.
What a nutrition practitioner does
Nutrition science and practice follows the concept that we are what we eat, digest and assimilate. If any aspect of this mechanism fails we could become ill. The symptoms suffered may not be digestive in nature as faulty nutrition or digestion can have far reaching effects. After an initial assessment, an action plan is negotiated and agreed with the client. This may include dietary and lifestyle changes as the primary approach, with supplementation support and functional testing where necessary. Nutritional interventions are planned in stages to afford the best outcome for the client. This can really improve the quality of life for those suffering long term chronic disease. In fact it can turn lives around, not just for the client but for the entire family.
Graduate Marie Dawson:
"The NCA gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream of a future in nutrition. The tutors were like attentive parents - always watching and monitoring, letting me (or making me if I was too scared to) stand on my own two feet as I took my first faltering steps into the areas of research, biochemistry and nutritional science. If I stumbled they would try to catch me or, if not, pick me up, dust me off and tell me to give it another try. I am still in awe that I was able to do this - the tutors told me that I could, but I just didn’t have the confidence in myself. They saw something in me that I couldn’t. I’m now practising as “Principal Nutrition” and the business took off really well as soon as I set up. I’m helping people (REALLY helping people) with every consultation - AND I LOVE IT!! Even now, I’m still surprising myself with what I can do, what I’ve learned and what I can do with that knowledge. The NCA gave me the foundations on which to build my own research, and practice experience to become a practitioner in my own right. I am working on my dissertation and continuing to work with clients, making my own little bit of a difference in the world. The future for me looks very bright (and very busy!)."
The difference between nutrition practitioners, dieticians and nutritionists
Nutrition practitioners, also known as nutritional therapists, usually work with adults who have chronic health problems that conventional medicine finds difficult to treat. It is also increasingly the case that parents seek to support their children with nutrition as opposed to prescription medications. Nutrition practitioners analyse these cases in terms of genetics, diet and lifestyle. This assists them to agree with the client an individual health action plan which aims to help alleviate the underlying cause rather than simply suppressing the symptoms. A nutrition consultation may include dietary advice, digestive support, colon health, detoxification, avoidance of external stressors and allergens, supplements, immune support and re-balancing.
Dieticians work principally in the National Health Service and are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council. Their professional body is the British Dietetic Association. A dietician uses the science of nutrition to devise eating plans for patients to treat medical conditions. They also work to promote good health by helping to facilitate a positive change in food choices amongst individuals, groups and communities. N.B. Only dieticians and nutrition practitioners are trained in clinical practice to give one-on- one personal health advice. Both groups must practise with full professional indemnity insurance.
Nutritionists often work outside a clinical context in the food industry, in research and academia, in government and other agencies. They are qualified to provide information to the public about food and healthy eating, but not about special dietary needs and therapeutic effects.