Monday, March 23, 2009

To Be Or Not To Be A Teacher!

Time for another "Guest Article".Teaching as everyone knows is a very noble profession,yet not many of us get into the profession. This article throws light on "who should and how one can get started in the teaching line". It's written by a retired Professor,Ms.Shobha Kumar, with whom I had the good fortune of being associated through the Indian Dietetic Associations(IDA),Bangalore Chapter. Incidentally,she is also the current Vice-President of the IDA (Bangalore Chapter).

Ms.Shobha Kumar
To Be Or Not To Be A Teacher!
Once considered a noble profession, in the present times, teaching seems to be at the bottom of the heap when it comes to opting for it as a career. But fortunately,there are still some individuals who have the passion to teach and love their jobs.
Here are some suggestions I have for those of you contemplating the career:
  1. The first prerequisite to become a teacher is to understand the basics of the subjects you are interested in. You should be able to assimilate knowledge and then impart it in simple terms to another individual (who may or may not possess that knowledge). Try a simple test of directing someone to your home;if he/she reaches without a hitch you are a success!!!
  2. Coming to brass tags: you need to have the required educational qualifications. Each institution and university clearly chalks out the qualifications required to apply for a particular teaching post. By and large,a doctorate is mandatory for teaching in a college (some approve of M.Phil plus teaching experience). To teach in schools you need to have completed post-graduation, a B.Ed. and teacher's training.
  3. Besides the educational qualification you should have a pleasing personality (remember 50 or more pairs of eyes are watching every detail of yours). How confidently you carry yourself even if there are physical disabilities, is what counts.
  4. A teacher is a role model in many ways:
  • could be in terms of dressing up (be modest),
  • mannerisms (no digging nose and biting nails),
  • language- good command over the language,
  • No usage of bad words,
  • No wrong spellings on the board.
5.Updating your knowledge and continuously improving yourself is essential.
6.Teaching the same subject year after year with enthusiasm requires constant innovation in teaching methods and persistence to sustain the interest of student.
7.Though everything now is taught with power point, it is still helpful having a legible handwriting on the board as well as on paper.
8. Finally, give it your best with passion and be ready to accept your mistakes even if your student has pointed it out to you; humility counts!
So decide for yourself and enjoy whatever you do.
All the best!!!

Shobha Kumar
Prof. and HOD Dept; of Home Science(Retd)
Mount Carmel College


Thursday, March 5, 2009

How to start a career as a Dietitian (in India)?

A lot of students who have earned their degrees in Nutrition have no clue as to what should be their next step(I was one among them,not so long ago). For this very reason I approached none other than the President of the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA),Mrs Dharini Krishnan.

Ms. Dharini Krishnan
Ms.Dharini Krishnan is the current National President of the Indian Dietetic Association(IDA). She has several years of experience as a Dietitian, a teacher and as a research assistant. She consults at her clinic at Mylapore,Chennai. She has also developed a personalised diet software called 'Digest' which is being used by many dietitians and also in several hospitals. Her website helps individuals and patients maintain good health through analysis of exercise and diet regimens.

1. What is your advice for a student of nutrition who has just graduated and is interested in becoming a Dietitian?
The need for India is in preventive nutrition being the global capital for diabetes and cardiac disease
Any graduate should take at least 2 years experience in the field she or he is interested in pursuing, then branch of on their own. There is huge scope for independent consultant dietitians in various fields such as obesity, diabetes, cardiac disease, sport's nutrition and normal nutrition.

2. What are the requirements to sit for the Registered Dietitian(RD) exam?
Please check the website under the heading 'Registration' for all details related to RD, eligibility, when application forms are issued and so on.

3. Do you have a list of some of the hospitals in India which offer internship for the RD course?
The list will soon be up on the same website. As of now,here are some of the hospitals in:
Sundaram Medical Foundation
Ramchandra Medical College and Hospital
Sagar Hospitals
Christian Medical College and Hospital

4. Other than hospitals, where else can the candidate look for jobs?
Fitness centres, centres which offer corporate counseling, diet clinics which are mushrooming under the corporate banner and private clinics, pediatric clinics and obstetric clinics.

5. Can a candidate look to the IDA for help in finding vacancies?
It is good to be a life member of IDA. Once any student finishes graduation, one should become a life member of IDA and take part in the activities of the local chapter. Every chapter announces the vacancies which they hear about in the monthly meetings.

6. Is it mandatory to become a member of the IDA?How does one benefit by becoming a member of the IDA?
It is not mandatory to become and IDA member to get a government job. In the private sector it is well recognised and a Registered Dietitian is also given some weightage. When students go abroad especially to the UAE and related countries registration is compulsory after a particular level. Membership in Dietetic Associations where you studied is compulsory. IDA is also aligned with International Confederation of Dietetic Associations(ICDA) and we also have one of our members on the ICDA board. These alignments call for promising future to be an IDA member. Finishing an RD gives the skill sets to practice as a dietitian.

7. Who all can become a member(can the general public join)?
Generally, a life member of the association should be a person who has studied nutrition and dietetics. We have other kinds of membership associate members, corporate members. Soon all this will be updated on the website with the fees for the same.

8.How many chapters does the IDA have?
IDA has 17 chapters scanning across the country. All details are available on the website with address, email contacts of each chapter

9. Are there any programmes/meeting conducted by the IDA at the national level as well as locally?
At the National level, every year we have a Annual National Conference which is usually held during the month of December. Local chapters are welcome to hold symposiums regional workshops and other such activities which is convenient to them.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nutrition and Diet from a Cricketers' Viewpoint

My first celebrity "Guest Writer" is cricketer Sridharan Sriram. Sriram is a left-handed batsman and a left-arm orthodox spin bowler. He played for India's Under-19 tour of South Africa back in 1992-93 and later in 2000, made his One Day International Debut (ODI) against South Africa. He has represented India in 8 ODI's. He's an out and out professional whose passion for cricket knows no bounds. He is also a fun loving person, with a flair to explore different cultures and cuisines.
I met Sriram through my friend Shiny Chandran,who also happens to be a Sports Nutritionist and the Dietitian for Sriram.

Sridharan Sriram
I'm no expert on Nutrition to be writing an article or anything,but I just wanted to share my thoughts on Nutrition as a professional cricketer.
Nutrition for me,or even for that matter,for cricketers in India is only a recent phenomenon. Fitness and nutrition came into prominence in India only in the early to late nineties before which cricket was a gentleman's game,played at a leisure pace over a long period of time,albeit with great quality. Before that time,I was only aware of the term "Diet" which I thought was to starve or eat less so that you don't put on weight. It was only after coming in close contact with my trainer Mr.Shanker Basu, and my dietitian Ms Shiny Chandran,that I was educated on the need of a proper,calculated food intake so as to enhance my skill productivity on the cricket field and also make me more efficient at training.
Training to me was just running laps around the ground(I couldn't run more than five at any given point of time). When my trainer started to push me in training, I found that I was getting very tired. He then put me on to my dietitian just to check if I was eating right and to my amazement I found what a profound subject it was and what sort of impact it had on my performance. I found out that I was eating all wrong for a sportsperson, right from 'appalam' to 'kozhukattai' to 'kuzhi paniyaram'. I never realised how harmful they were for me. I also used to add a lot of sugar to my tea and coffee and never knew that you could put on weight just having sugar. I wasn't even getting enough protein in my diet as I am a vegetarian,and that was hampering my muscle building.
My dietitian set everything right-she gave me a strict diet to follow, and asked me to include whey protein powder. I,on my part, followed her instructions to every letter of the word and found tremendous benefits in a short span of time. I was even crazy enough at one point to venture into hotel kitchens to inspect the amount of oil they used in their curries.
I found out that you had to eat little at regular intervals, eat a healthy snack in-between meals and drink a lot of fluids. I tell you,the difference was there for everyone to see. I am sure if you are fit and eat right regularly, the energy level or the vibrations you emit are something only to be seen to be believed.
I once read a book where Lance Armstrong used to measure every calorie he ate, to the amount he expended. That was the amount of professionalism he had. Even though we are nowhere near his level of commitment and intensity,we can take a leaf out of his book, stay fit, eat healthy and strive to achieve our goals and aspirations.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nutrition For A Fast Paced Life

For my next post,I thought I'd invite someone to write a "Guest article" for Bonne Nutrition. So ladies and gentlemen,please welcome Ms.Smitha Suresh, a very good friend and also a former colleague of mine who has a pulse on the current situation (I am afterall on a "mommy-break" from active consulting) .
Ms.Smitha Suresh
Hello everybody. Let me introduce myself.
Having completed my MSc in Food Science and Nutrition from Mysore University, I did my Dietetic internship at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore. After that I worked with a nutrition consultancy in Bangalore called NICHE, where I mainly counseled employees of the Software and BPO industry. Incidentally, Sweta Uchil-Purohit was the Manager at NICHE at that time.
In 2006, I made a choice to move back to Mysore, and am now working as a freelance Nutrition Consultant. I also consult at Flexcity-one of the most reputed and oldest gyms at Mysore.
Here's my take on Nutrition as I see it nowadays:
Nutrition For a Fast Paced Life
"Do you find yourself cutting corners when it comes to eating-time saving foods like Maggi for breakfast, a quick salad for lunch, a tasty bite in the evening for your growling stomach, ready-to-eat foods or fast foods (pizzas or burgers) for dinner?
Even if you have any of these foods only once or twice a week,it negatively impacts your body.
Sure,these save time and energy,but what is not obvious is that these foods are draining your health. Your health seems "OK" now,but have you given a thought to the quality of your life even five years from now? Being even five kilos overweight,having a waistline in excess of 34 inches for men and 31.5 inches for women,increases risk of developing Heart disease, Diabetes and even some forms of Cancer.
So,how do you fit in a nutrition plan into your busy schedule? The good news is that it's very simple.
Breakfast is a must-right from your school going kid to your in-law's at home,everyone needs a healthy breakfast! If you skip it, you'll experience a dip in your energy levels by mid-morning,loss of concentration and productivity and also drowsiness. Habitually skipping breakfast can also lead to weight gain. Oats, plain cornflakes, plain wheat flakes or muesli with low-fat milk and fruits are great,fast,easy and healthy breakfast options.
Sweta has already covered everything that I would say on what to eat at each meal and for snacks in her previous posts. The only thing I'm adding is, if you are packing lunch then, try kichidi with veggies or a vegetable pulav with either channa or egg. Or,be creative and try a combination of vegetables with whole or split grams/lentils(like cabbage+channa sabzi or palak +moong curry) along with phulkas or dosas. Add a raitha to any of the above and you have a complete,balanced meal. Pack a carrot,tomato or a fruit for more fibre.
Dinner needs to be lighter than lunch in terms of the amount or quantity of the cereal item(rice/chapathies) and should be eaten at least two hours before going to bed.
If it helps, try planning your day's menu starting with the timings for the meals and what you are going to have at each meal. You could even plan a week's menu in advance and shop accordingly. That way,you don't have to think too much about what to cook and what to buy,but please remember, never,never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach!!You'll just end up sorely tempted by(and picking) all the junk food on the shelves. Try shopping after you've had a good meal and then you'll be able to congratulate yourself at the end on your power to resist!!
Carry a bottle of water to work,that way you'll be aware of how much water you drink. Make sure to drink at least 1.5-2.5 litres of water in a day.
Tea or coffee twice a day won't harm you,but if you are taking more than that-the stimulant compounds in these beverages will add to your stress levels,not bring them down and remember to keep the sugar to just one teaspoon/cup.
Lastly, EXERCISE-it should be vigorous and something you enjoy. In addition, be active throughout the day.You could take a quick brisk walk around your office building before lunch or in the evening, use the stairs whenever possible or even hit the gym during your free time.
30-45minutes of vigorous exercise at least five times a week will help to keep you at your normal weight, energy levels balanced throughout the day, and also reduces stress and risk of developing lifestyle related diseases later on in life.
Being healthy is a choice that you make. You can begin by simply being aware of the health related choices you are already making everyday. Become aware of what you are putting in your mouth-the experience of taste is fleeting. Your body has to deal with whatever you eat.
Don't take it for granted!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Information for Students on Courses in Nutrition In India:

Since a lot of my friends have been asking me about how to get started in the field of Nutrition,I thought who could be better to enlighten the public than my very first boss,Ms.Swarupa Kakani. She's been a great teacher and I can proudly say that I learnt my Nutrition "A,B,C's" from her, when I started my career as a trainee at Manipal Hospital,Bangalore.
Here's a brief intro:

Ms.Swarupa Kakani
Ms.Swarupa Kakani is the Chief Nutritionist at Sagar Hospitals ,Bangalore.She has done her MSc in Food, Nutrition and Diet Therapy from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati and Diploma in Dietetics from Christian Medical College Hospital (CMCH), Vellore. She is presently persuing Ph.D in the field of Children with Diabetes.
She has in the past, worked at the CMC Hospital Vellore,Wockhardt Heart Institute, Bangalore and also Manipal Hospital, Bangalore.She has over 15 years of experience in the field of Clinical Nutrition and is also the President of the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA),Bangalore Chapter.

Excerpts from the Interview with Ms. Kakani:

Q.What are the basic qualifications required to become a Nutritionist or a Dietitian?
Ans: a) B.Sc Home Science / Clinical Nutrition / Nutrition & Dietetics with 6 months internship or 1 year diploma in Nutrition & Dietetics.
b) M.Sc Foods, Nutrition & Diet Therapy / Dietetics and Food Service

Q.Are these courses available in all colleges?
Ans: Not in all colleges.

Q.Which are some of the well known colleges in India which offer these courses?
There are so many colleges that it is not possible to give all the names.Here are some of the colleges categorised state wise-
• Mount Carmel College, Bangalore
• VHD Central Institute Of Home Science, Bangalore
• University Of Agricultural Sciences(UAS), Bangalore
• Manasagangothri University, Mysore
• Mangalore University, Mangalore
Tamil Nadu:
• Queen Mary’s College, Chennai
• MOP Vaishnav College for Women, Chennai
• Women’s Christian College, Chennai
• Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science, Coimbatore
• RVS College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore
• BCM College for Women, Kottayam
• College of Agriculture, Thiruvananthapuram
• College of Horticulture, Vellanikkara
• Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur
Andhra Pradesh:
• The National Institute for Nutrition, Hyderabad
• University College for Women, Hyderabad
• Home Science College, Saifabad
• D.K Govt College for Women, Nellore
• Sri Satya Sai Institute for Higher Learning for Women, Anantpur
• Govt College For Women, Nagarjuna University, Guntur
• Joseph's College For Women, Andhra University, Waltair
• Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidyanagar
• Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara
• Matushri Virbaima Mahila College, Saurashtra University, Rajkot
• Seth P.T. Mahila College of Arts and Home Science (SNDT University), Surat
• Lady Irwin College, Delhi
• Institute of Home Science, Delhi
• Sophia College, Mumbai
• Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai
• SNDT ,Mumbai
• Lady Amritabai College for Women, Nagpur University, Nagpur
• Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology, Udaipur
• Banasthali Vidyapith, Banasthali
• College of Home science, Bikaner
• Smt. Indira Mani Mandatia Griha Vigyan Shiksha Niketan, Rajasthan University, Pilani
• Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat
Uttar Pradesh:
• Ginni Devi Modi Girls (P.G) College, Ghaziabad
• Govt. College of Home Science (Punjab University), Chandigarh
• College of Home Science (Punjab Agricultural University) Kaoni, Faridkot
• S.D. College (Kurukshetra University), Ambala Cantt
West Bengal:
• Jwari Devi Birla Institute Of Home Science, Jadavpur University, Calcutta
• Viharilal College Of Home Science, Calcutta University Calcutta
Please note that this is a list of some of the colleges,there are many more colleges that offer the same courses.

Q.Is a post-graduation mandatory to get a job?
No it is not mandatory.

Q.What kind of jobs can a person qualified in nutrition get?
There are ample opportunities for nutritionists and dietitians in different industry, hospitals, schools, colleges, government agencies, and clinics etc. Students can also make career in research field especially in the biomedical and nutritional biochemistry fields. One can also find business-related opportunities in sales, marketing, customer service, employee wellness, human resources and general management. Apart from these, there are ample scopes for self-employment. You could open a consultancy clinic in some residential area, where you could interact with mothers, housewives, homemakers, adolescents and so forth.

Q.How many years of hospital training would you advise a fresher, to get a good grasp on the subject?
Minimum of six months.

Q.How would you say the job market is different from the time when you started your career and now?
Yes, there is a lot of difference from 1985 and now. Job opportunities are more and remuneration is much better.

Q.Does the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA) have a website?
The IDA has a

and lastly,
Q.What is your advice for people who want to take up nutrition as a career?
Nutrition and Dietetics is an emerging field which is expected to provide enormous opportunities in professional career. It would be a good idea to take up the Nutrition course since, an individual aspiring for a career in Nutrition and Dietetics should have a preliminary knowledge in biology, biochemistry, and physiology as well as the sociological and psychological dimensions of human nutrition. Such Knowledge is very important to day to day healthy living even if one is not working.