My working life... Registered nutritionist
Monday, January 13, 2014
Julia Wolman tells Jackie Cosh about her challenging but rewarding role
Julia Wolman is a registered nutritionist and runs child nutrition consultancy Teeny Tummies, which works with professionals and parents to build confidence about feeding babies and children well.
'I carry out bespoke sessions with nurseries depending on their particular needs,' she says.
'The generic subjects I will always cover are general nutrition for children, getting the balance of the food groups, and raising awareness of some of the problems today with children's diets.
'I have delivered sessions for cooks, which include menu planning and reading food labels, because they are the ones who are going out and buying the products most of the time.
'With the teaching staff, and those who are with the children while they are eating, I always cover fussy eating and how to promote good mealtime behaviour. That is quite key.
'On a typical day I will give a talk in the morning to a group of mums, usually around the subject of weaning. It could either be a postnatal group in a community venue or a private session where a group of friends get together in one of their houses. The rest of my time is spent on telephone conversations, working on a one-to-one basis with parents.
'I also carry out meal planning with nurseries, so I will look at their menus and assess them in line with guidelines.
'The hardest part of the job is when I'm working with parents who don't want to make changes. This can be challenging and frustrating. A lot of my work is providing reassurance, support and advice, but when it comes to healthy eating for children much of it is about what the parents do, and if you have a fussy eater it is often about how the parents manage it. If they are closed to making changes and just want a magic wand, that makes it difficult for me. I get very despondent when I work with parents like that.'
'The best part of the job is when I get feedback from parents about how the little changes they have made to their children's eating routine has worked with regards to fussy eating. Knowing that the children are benefiting is the most rewarding thing.'
QUALIFICATIONS AND TRAINING
BSc Hons, Applied Human Nutrition, Leeds Metropolitan University (1994-1998)
Msc Psychology and Health (exercise route), City University (2000-2001)
Foundation certificate in food hygiene (2003)
Behaviour change skills, Level 2: Motivational Approaches (2004)
Nutritional Medicine MSc programme covering nutritional aspects of pregnancy, infancy and childhood (2005)
Shape-Up facilitators training, London (2006)
2000: Nutritionist/account executive at Hill & Knowlton PR Agency
2001-2002: Research assistant at University College London
2002-2003: Health improvement advisor for schools, Newham Primary Care Trust
2003-2007: Sure Start community nutritionist at Lambeth Primary Care Trust
2007-2011: Programme developer and trainer at MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition... Do it!)
2010 to present: Freelance nutritionist
- Advice on finding a dietician or nutritionist, www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/ find-a-registered-dietitian-or-nutritionist.aspx?CategoryID=51&Sub CategoryID=168
- British Nutrition Foundation www.nutrition.org.uk
- Nutrition Society, www.nutritionsociety.org
- Teeny Tummies, www.teenytummies.com
- Website for self-employed nutritionists support, www.sense-nutrition.org.uk/meetmem.htm
Unlike the title dietitian, the term nutritionist is not a legally protected title, meaning that in effect anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. Being a registered nutritionist means being registered with the Association for Nutrition. To become a member, you must have three years of experience in the nutrition field and references to prove this, as well as an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in nutrition and/or dietetics from a course accredited by the Association for Nutrition. As chemistry and biology feature heavily in the training, universities expect applicants to have a good scientific knowledge.
Registered nutritionists who specialise in child nutrition work in a variety of settings, providing expert advice on children's nutritional needs and healthy eating. They help with creating menu plans, explaining nutritional guidelines and how to meet them, as well as giving advice on fussy eaters or other dietary problems.
Organisations such as The Royal Society for Public Health run food hygiene courses while both the British Nutrition Foundation and The Nutrition Society run events and offer training and workshops, helping nutritionists expand and update their skills and knowledge.