by Ellie Morris
Not everyone who ends up working in nutrition started with a straight nutrition degree. Whilst this is probably the most direct way to get into it, there are so many different pathways that you could take to get there! Here is my journey…
Like a lot of people I have always loved food. I love trying new recipes and discovering something delicious, and the way it brings people together, whether that’s for a special occasion, dinner with friends and family, or the collective excitement for different holiday foods throughout the year. However, my real interest in the actual science of nutrition came from being a national level swimmer for the best part of 8 years. Nutrition and food played a huge role in my swimming career, and learning to fuel my body from my wonderful mum and various sports nutritionists along the way, in my opinion, helped me to perform the best I could to reach my peak.
When the time came to pick which undergraduate degree to do, my swimming had really taken off and I wanted to choose a uni where I could hopefully progress it further. The A levels I was doing (Biology, Psychology, and Geography) opened so many doors and I no idea of what I wanted to do, both at uni and as a career afterwards. I ended up choosing a degree (Psychology) which I knew my heart wasn’t in and, as a result, after receiving my A level results I decided that I no longer wanted to go university and I withdrew my place. After a few months of being stuck with what to do I changed my mind and applied to the University of Birmingham to do a BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences, where I eventually gained a First Class degree with Honours. During this degree I was introduced properly to the world of sports nutrition and some more in-depth biochemistry and metabolism – which I thoroughly enjoyed and are important in understanding key aspects of nutrition. On that note, most if not all, nutrition undergraduate/postgraduate degrees require you to have completed courses that demonstrate competencies in biochemistry and metabolism or that you degree is similar to nutrition. You can see what is required for specific courses in the eligibility criteria on the university websites.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, in the second year of my degree, anxieties surrounding the future and what was going to happen were high. However, I think for me the first lockdown was a blessing in disguise in terms of the true beginning of wanting a career in nutrition. After a conversation with my best friend I started a ‘foodie’ Instagram page called @nutritiouslyellie and this was honestly a pivotal moment for me. I found and started to follow so many authoritative voices who were creating easily digestible (pun intended!) and evidence-based content to break through the misinformation about nutrition online, and I knew that I wanted to be like that too.
During my final year I was an Applied Sports Nutrition intern with the elite athlete sports Performance Centre at uni, which gave me some invaluable experience but solidified that I wanted to head down a more general nutrition route rather than sports-specific. I then spent a long time researching Masters degrees in nutrition and this lead to me applying to do the Applied Human Nutrition MSc at Oxford Brookes, which is what I am currently doing now. Some of my modules include the Fundamentals of Human Nutrition, Food Science, Global Nutrition and Public Health, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Health, Health Promotion and Professional Practice, and Research Methods. I absolutely love my degree and cannot wait to graduate and become a Registered Associate Nutritionist and eventually fully registered.
Whilst I am still not 100% sure where I want to go after this (which is totally okay), I have gained some incredibly valuable experience and knowledge from being an intern with Clarissa Lenherr and working with the team at MyNutriWeb. At the moment I am very excited to be doing work experience with Rhiannon Lambert on the behind the scenes at the Rhitrition Clinic.
So, I hope my experiences show that there is not a just one straightforward pathway into getting a nutrition masters and becoming a nutrition graduate. Whether you are a nutrition student or are a new member of the nutrition graduate community then…GOOD LUCK and remember to follow your own journey.