A nutrition educator teaches the benefits of healthy food consumption and how to improve eating habits. He normally bases the bulk of the information he imparts on fundamental scientific facts. His teachings also include emerging food and nutrition theories. Interesting breakthroughs in the safety and effectiveness of ingesting supplemental vitamins, minerals and other dietary aids are additional topics that are regularly part of a nutrition educator’s curriculum.
If a nutrition educator works in a clinical setting, he may have regular opportunities to participate in or observe the effects of nutrition on healthy as well as unhealthy people involved in clinical trials. He is normally permitted to ask questions of the trial administrator and use the knowledge to enhance his own nutritional studies. The educator frequently documents his observations to reference in later trials or experiments.
A nutrition educator may also spend his career in a traditional classroom setting. He may be in a food educator rotation at a culinary school or be part of a college or trade school staff that teaches classes to aspiring dieticians, nutritionists or food service managers. Some elementary and middle schools hire nutrition educators on a contractual basis to participate in seminars and health fairs.
Long-term care facilities and retirement homes commonly call upon nutrition educators to teach their residents the benefits of eating fresh and healthy foods. To spike interest in his presentation, the nutrition educator often devises clever productions that encourage his audience to participate in food tasting and preparation. This participatory approach is also popular if the educator is called upon to inspire chronically ill children to adopt better eating habits.
Aside from educating people on diet and nutrition, a nutrition educator often may conduct his own research, in either a formal or an informal setting. His interest in food and nutrition may lead him to observe peers’ or associates’ eating habits and incorporate his findings into an anecdotal article for submission to a professional journal as well. He may also team up with other industry professionals to study common nutrition-related topics and develop related services and educational programs.
Good organizational abilities and polished communication skills are key to being a successful nutrition educator. The job normally entails simultaneously managing several projects and speaking to groups that are quite diverse in their ages and interests. Self-motivation and flexibility in scheduling are also important traits for a nutrition educator.
This position requires a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or dietetics. One year of inpatient experience is a standard prerequisite. Some jobs also require some experience in counseling or outpatient services.