Deepa Nandy: Satisfaction is more rewarding than fame
Shilpa Jain: Our primary mission is to make young women financially independent, why is being financially independent important to you?
Deepa Nandy: If a woman is financially independent, it gives a sense of achievement and confidence to make further choices without any obligations or burden. The idea of splurging on travels and shopping, making business investments or supporting one’s family during medical emergencies without worrying is a huge boost to one’s self-worth. It also allows a woman’s voice to be heard.
SJ: How did you decide to become a sports nutritionist? You are also a Diabetes Educator and Health and Fitness Consultant. What does that entail?
DN: During pregnancy I had gained a lot of weight which I managed to shed off through exercise and self-prescribed nutrition. In this process I got curious about the science of nutrition and wanted to learn more about it. So I studied Sports Nutrition at SNDT, Mumbai.
Diabetes is a lifestyle disease. After obtaining a certificate from American Diabetes Association as a Diabetes Educator, I educate my clients as to how to manage diabetes. I also try to reverse their condition through nutrition and exercise. To aid people in their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, fitness and nutrition, I offer practical advice, fitness plans and nutritional strategies.
SJ: For the benefit of our young women, what does it take to become a nutritionist? And what can we do with a nutrition degree?
Essential qualifications to be a Dietician/Nutritionist
- Graduation in Nutrition and Dietetics / Biotechnology/ Microbiology/ Food Technology/ Life Sciences supported by any one of the following Post Graduate degrees or diploma recognised by UGC
- PG Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics / Sports Science and Nutrition
- Master’s Degree in Food Science Nutrition / Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics / Sports Nutrition
- PhD in Nutrition
A degree in Nutrition can open up many vistas. The following are just a few of them:
- Clinical Dieticians: They work with patients in health care settings, such as hospitals, nursing care facilities, etc. and help them in maintaining their nutritional intake.
- Paediatric Dieticians: They work with children of all age groups and advise them on nutrition accordingly. They can either work in hospitals or set up an independent practice.
- Sports and Health Nutritionist: They work with various sports clubs, sports hostels, and athletic teams. They make diet plans for the sports personnel, both to maintain their weight and body muscle, and to optimise their performance.
- Research and Development: Dieticians can also work in the field of research to ensure the quality and nutritional values of food items. They work in labs and study the effects of different types of diet forms on the body. The main area of focus is the nutritive components of food.
- Academics: They teach in various schools and colleges to pass on their knowledge of nutrition to aspiring dieticians.
- Community Dieticians: Dieticians can also work with various public health agencies, government projects, to educate individuals on food nutrition and eating a balanced diet to prevent diseases. They work with large groups and communities.
SJ: What are the some of the top careers in nutrition?
DN: Independent Nutrition Professional: They establish their own consulting business and then meet with clients in multiple settings. They help clients with customized diet plans and regular advice, based on what they need.
Corporate Nutritional Consultant: Increasingly, large companies are putting wellness programs into place as they realize that healthy and happy employees are more productive and efficient. Nutritional consultants can be employed on a contract or full-time basis for duties like consulting with employees, conducting workshops on better health strategies, developing meal options for employee cafeterias etc.
Weight Management Professional: Many people become interested in changing their diets because they feel the need to lose weight. They soon realise that it is also easy to put that weight back on. Hence it is important to have nutrition professionals who can create customised eating plans that are sustainable and manageable—especially for the long term. Nutrition professionals can work in such capacity in formal weight management clinics, fitness centres, rehab facilities, and wellness spas.
Clinical Nutrition Program Developer: A program developer typically works at a hospital, health resort, or a clinic and creates several nutrition programs called Medical Nutrition Therapy that are tailored to the needs of the patients.
SJ: We notice a lot of women nutritionists. The gender diversity here is very high. But we are not complaining. Any particular reason?
DN: Dietetics has long been a field dominated by women. It may be because of the fact that, traditionally in India, many girls opted for Home Science. Since women dominated this field early on, many young men may looked at nutrition as a woman’s career choice instead of recognizing it as a unique opportunity to break through a profession eager for diversity. That is changing now.
SJ: Do we get flexibility on work hours once our career is established?
In the initial years, when a Dietician/Nutritionist is working with a gym or a corporate or a hospital, the work timings will be as per the corporate/hospital rules. Once a Dietician/Nutritionist has established herself, and moves into independent consulting there is flexibility in work hours.
SJ: How rewarding is this career – financially and in other ways?
DN: When you can see your patients’ or clients’ health improving, it gives a deep sense of satisfaction and achievement. Being a Nutritionist is also financially rewarding, especially, if you can become an independent consultant. There are several examples of celebrity nutritionists in India who are really sought after by the rich and the famous.
SJ: Any message to the members of Aspire for Her? And any message for the Foundation in general?
I would like to quote Hillary Clinton – who said “Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in. And, when you stumble, keep faith. And, when you’re knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on.”
Aspire for Her is a unique initiative to build a platform for a community of young women who are about to step out into the world as they embark on their careers. It is a bold and courageous move to contemplate, conceptualise and launch such an initiative, and I wish Madhura and the entire team a resounding success. May Aspire for Her grow stronger with each passing day, since that would be a victory not only for the Foundation but for all Indian women.
Deepa Nandy is a Sports Nutritionist and a Diabetes Educator. She has a post graduate Diploma from SNDT University, Mumbai in Sports Science and Nutrition and a Diabetes Educator from Panacea Health Education, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, US. She is a practicing nutritionist. She conducts seminars, lectures and presentations to corporates, schools on her passion that is now her profession
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