The past decade has seen an undeniable growth in public interest in health and nutrition. The explosion in popularity of social media, powerful documentaries and a general increase in public awareness and acceptance of the importance of healthy eating has made it such that nutrition is the topic on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
As a nutrition professional, I am thrilled to witness this revolution firsthand and take stock of a growing body of young Canadians who are passionate about nutrition and want to start a career in the industry.
With that being said, I believe it is so critically important that this next generation of nutrition-obsessed Canadians is properly trained and educated. This is important not only for their own personal success, but to ensure they give a proper account of the field of nutrition in the public eye.
This is the precise message I delivered to students when I was on campus earlier this week presenting on the importance of integrity in nutrition communication.
Although I happen to be a registered dietitian, it is important for people to understand and appreciate that there are many people shaping the nutrition industry who may not necessarily have a formal title. This is something that I’ve come to accept and embrace over the past 18 months.
Acknowledging this, it was a no-brainer for me when the Humber College School of HRT reached out for help to raise awareness of their two nutrition diploma programs as part of their #LifeAfterHRT campaign.
They provided me with some introductory information and left me to review each program in depth to formulate my own views and help my readers better understand exactly what is that Humber has on offer for those young people out there interested in pursuing education in the field of nutrition.
My own personal nutrition education journey led me on an unconventional path through school to where I am today, and I know there are many would-be nutrition students out there reading this that will be able to resonate with my experience and are mulling over starting their own nutrition education journey.
With all of that being said, let’s take a closer look at Humber’s two nutrition-centered diploma programs:
I learned that The Food & Nutrition Management program is Humber’s original nutrition-related diploma program and pretty much focuses on combining the worlds of food service and healthcare.
Is the program right for you?
In my opinion, If you love all things food service and you enjoy being directly involved in the preparation, handling and serving of food, this program is a good fit for you. Maybe you’ve had jobs in the food industry or you have a culinary background, either way the passion for food is there and you want to take it to the next level and apply those skills in new, challenging settings. If ingredients, menus, recipes, hospitality and service are some of your favourite words, you’re in the right place.
I wanted to get a better idea of the types of classes that students would be taking in this program, so I took a closer look at the course calendar and one that really stood out to me was Insitutional Menu Planning where you pretty much learn everything that it takes to plan menu’s to accommodate large groups of people with varying needs while also considering healthcare regulations, budget considerations and meeting nutritional requirements for the population of concern. If the idea of menu
Perks of The Program And Where It Could Take You
As I continued to take a closer look at what the Food & Nutrition Management program was all about, the two components of the program that really jumped out at me were the ability to gain the designation of NM Nutrition Manager from the Canadian Society of Nutrition Management (CSNM) and the 6-week practical placement. I can personally speak to how priceless it is to gain real work experience. My first job out of school was at a company that I interned with as a student on a placement of similar duration.
It’s also important to be realistic about exactly where a program can take you. For this particular program, graduates often end up employed in a variety of food service related roles in long term care facilities, hospitals, retirement homes and even in the food industry.
As far as how well the program prepares you for these positions? I got in touch with an alumnus to find out! Here’s what he had to say:
“Through its focused and specialized classes, the Food and Nutrition Management Program gave my life a direction it was lacking. By hiring instructors who are also working front-line in the industry, I was able to benefit from their experience and leave with a strong sense of what working in the food service world would be like. I was fortunate that one of my instructors had just taken on the role of Food Service Manager at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Guelph; she allowed me to do my internship alongside her team, and she ended up hiring me as a Diet Technician and Food Service Supervisor. A few years later, Humber College reached out to me to become a part-time instructor in the program. I could not be more thankful for the friends I met in the program and the opportunities taking it has provided me!”
David Farrell Diet Technician/Food Service Supervisor at St. Joseph’s Health Centre (Guelph)
“Attending the Food & Nutrition program at Humber College was definitely a life changing experience. From the professors, variety of courses and all of the engaging events, it was definitely a program that equipped me for the field that I was pursuing. Other than all the awesome professors that were able to provide us with a great learning experience, the program coordinator at the time was Susan Somerville, who is now Dean,School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism. Susan was an amazing program coordinator, she was intensely involved with the program and made sure that it wasn’t just an average learning experience. Susan was able to build an environment that was so positive and engaging, that I was excited to come back each day to learn something new. The program was set up in a way so that each individual went to an internship that was geared towards their career path. Not only was I able to find employment through my internship, Susan would continue to refer us to job postings or have us connect straight with the manager of the facility. Majority of my employment was gained through networking and help from Humber.”
Michelle Toueini Menu Compliance Coordinator For Long-Term Care & Retirement Homes Across Canada
Just like it sounds, the Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyle Promotion program is focused on effectively communicating nutrition information to others for the purpose of helping them lead healthier lives.
Is the program right for you?
In my opinion, this program is ideal for anyone who has a serious passion for healthy living and wants to apply that passion to helping others. To make the most of a program like this, I feel as though you should be as much nutrition-centered as you are people-entered and I think that is pretty accurately reflected in the courses offered in the program.
You can look forward to a class that focuses on Nutritional Counseling, which should excite anyone who wants to pursue a career in nutrition. One of the other really cool classes that I noticed in the course list was the one on Entrepreneurship. As a private practice entrepreneur myself, I kind of wish I had a class like this back in the day. It is obviously a really valuable topic to explore considering that entrepreneurship in the field of health and wellness is probably at an all-time high.
Perks Of The Program And Where It Could Take You
One of the really cool and unique opportunities that I identified in this program is the 15-week experiential learning course which actually allows you to put your education to the test by working with Humber College staff and helping them achieve their food and nutrition goals. The course also includes a presentation component, where you will be responsible for delivering group nutrition education to a diverse array of audiences. As a dietitian, these are literally some of my favourite activities. If you are truly passionate about nutrition, these are the types of opportunities that should excite you. If they do, you know this program is a strong choice for you.
I also had the opportunity to speak with two graduates of this program to get a better idea of what they were able to do with it and where they are now.
“Studying at Humber College felt more like job training. The hands-on learning and in-depth lectures amplified my confidence and fully prepared me for the work force. It’s been 4 years since I graduated and started working as a personal trainer; I couldn’t be more passionate and satisfied with my career! I truly believe I owe my success to Humber College!”
Ben Howard CanFitPro PTS CSEP-CPT
“I knew I wanted a career promoting health and wellness so I entered Humber’s Nutrition and Lifestyle Promotion program. I studied hard to ensure I had numerous options available to me and, in the end, I opted to apply to Ryerson University to start my path towards becoming a registered dietitian. The classes and labs at Humber prepared me exceptionally well for my transition to Ryerson, especially in terms of understanding clinical nutrition and nutrition throughout the lifecycle. I gained such valuable experience from the nutrition counseling opportunities at Humber, and it was those opportunities that made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career as a dietitian.”
Pegah Pourheidari Current Ryerson University School Of Nutrition Student
As I’ve said throughout the entirety of this program review, interest in nutrition is at an all-time high, but if you are serious about pursuing a career in this field you have a responsibility to be properly prepared and educated.
Humber College is one of a number of educational institutions that offers you a route to do just that, and is certainly a college worth your consideration and one that will help ensure you are trained to represent the field of nutrition in the best possible light.
Andy De Santis RD MPH