Today I wanted to write a note to aspiring nutrition students based on my experience in undergrad and some skills that I wished I had taken out of it. Below are but a few examples.
In undergrad I was intently focused on learning everything I could on sports nutrition. If it didn’t pertain to protein needs, nutrient timing or supplements, I wasn’t all that interested. I had such intense blinders on that I failed to recognize the importance of so many other skills that were taught in my classes that would help me in my counseling of future clients.
I was missing the forest for the trees, the big picture for the specific details that I only cared about.
When we had a class on cooking techniques and strategies I bemoaned how “unhealthy” many of the recipes were that we made, not seeing beyond that flaw and recognizing the basic cooking skills I could be developing and then being able to show or describe to future clients. While I am slowly learning many of these things on my own, I should have taken much greater advantage of the opportunity granted to me.
I am became a certified food manager and learned all about food safety and proper storage in school, and fortunately I do remember much of those details (and some are just common sense), but at the time I certainly did not recognize its importance to my future work. Who cares about the temperature danger zone when there is a new study on post-workout nutrition! In retrospect I see now how being well-versed in that information can have such a massive impact on community health initiatives, because many people have had little to no education on the topic.
While I worked hard to make up for this one, I also did not have much interest in nutrition needs throughout the life cycle. I wasn’t all that interested in how nutrition needs are different when you are 85 (or 6 for that matter). I failed to recognize how this would apply to my future clientele, not realizing that it applies to everyone at some point or another!
The point is to not miss the forest for the trees. While it is awesome to have a niche or an area of intense passion and focus, it is imperative not to exclude the many other elements that can impact your ability as an educator, counselor, facilitator. There is a far bigger picture in the real world that so many, or at least I, was not aware of in college. Develop a wide array of skills, you never know what opportunity lay around the corner to put them to work.
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