Foundation Diploma in Nutrition
- Enrol any time
- Study at your own pace
- Expand your understanding and skills
- Work in the food, hospitality, health or fitness industries
Study eight core modules made up of Nutrition I, II and III, Children's Nutrition, Sports Nutrition, Therapeutic Nutrition, Nutrition for Weight Loss, Weight Loss
Then choose two relevant elective modules such as Motivation, Starting Your Own Business, Life Coaching or Health and Wellbeing.
Note that each module in the Qualification - Foundation Diploma in Nutrition is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
LEARN HOW YOU EAT
(as well as What to Eat)
The way our bodies process nutrition depends on a number of factors. These can be broken down into two major categories: internal and external. Internally, there is the digestion process, which covers the actual breakdown of food and extraction of nutrients. This is automatic – once we’ve eaten the food, the way it is processed is outside of our control. Externally, there are the acts of actually eating and drinking – the way we eat our food, how much we eat, how often, and even the other foods on our plate affect our digestion processes and how we extract nutrients.
Meals per Day
Perhaps you’ve heard that humans need to eat three meals per day for optimum health, or that it’s necessary to eat small meals every three hours to get the maximum amount of nutrition from your food. These ideas work for some people, but they’re also not for everyone. Everybody is different; there’s no right or wrong to eat, as long as the body is meeting its key nutritional needs.
When working out the number of meals to eat per day, start with three, then assess activity and schedule. Take note of any times where low energy is a problem. This could be the body signalling it needs an energy boost – or it could be the body slowing down after too much to eat, or a heavy meal. Noting this down before you design a meal schedule will help you create a custom plan to meet individual needs. Also pay attention to any high activity times – if you’re expending a lot of energy, you need to take in enough energy to keep up with your daily activities. This is important because someone who works in a physical field, like construction, will most likely have a higher energy expenditure than someone who works in an office.
Next, listen to the body. Some people thrive on a big breakfast; others eat a light breakfast but a big lunch. Think carefully about current eating habits, and the way you feel after each meal. Use this and your activity schedule to work out which meals should be larger, and which should be smaller. Don’t forget to account for snacks.
Once you’ve worked through these two assessments, you should have a reasonable idea of the number of meals you need per day. For most people, this falls into the pattern of:
Remember: don’t skip breakfast. This is the body’s first meal after sleep, and energy and nutrient stores are low. Make sure you replenish them before setting about the day.
How much to eat per meal?
Now we’ve established a rough guide to how many meals to have in a day, it’s time to think about how much to eat. Remember, your body gets energy from food. Eat too little, and there won’t be enough energy to function. Eat too much, and the excess energy can contribute to weight gain and other problems.
The amount of food need varies from person to person. Rather than focus on a specific amount of food, pay attention to the body’s signals. A good-sized meal leaves you feeling comfortable, but not overly full. You should be able to get up and move around without feeling slow or heavy.
For many people snacking (eating between main meals) is an important part of meeting the body’s nutritional needs. Healthy snacks keep energy up and provide essential nutrients throughout the day. Before you reach for a snack, though, ask yourself: am I really hungry? Do I need a snack? Or do I really need something else?
If you’re not actually hungry, think about why you’re reaching for a snack. Perhaps you need a quick break, or a walk. Perhaps your mind’s a little stuck, or you’re bored. These are not times for a snack.
Next, think about the last time you had something to drink. Many people mistake thirst for hunger pangs. If you are actually hungry, then eat something healthy. Skipping snacks when you’re hungry makes you over-hungry, which often leads to over- eating, or eating unhealthy food. Good snacks include fresh fruit, raw vegetables, low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt, and nuts and seeds. Keep healthy snacks handy, around the house, at work, or in your car or bag.
Even though it’s often tempting to rush through a meal this can cause problems. When we eat too fast, we swallow air, which can lead to bloating and abdominal discomfort. If you eat too fast, you’re also more likely to miss the body’s cues, and eat too much or not enough. Be mindful of your food and how you eat – take your time, and listen to your body.
Chewing is another essential part of eating properly. Chewing is your food’s first contact with the digestion process: when we chew, we start physically breaking down food so the body can access energy and nutrients. Our saliva contains enzymes that begin chemically breaking down food too, particularly carbohydrates and fats. Chewing too fast can also lead to swallowing air and the associated abdominal discomfort. Remember: eat mindfully. If you rush through meals and don’t chew enough, then you’re skipping an important step in the digestion process.
Water is necessary to life: the human body is around 60% water. If the body does not take in enough water, it becomes dehydrated. Mild dehydration can cause fatigue and headaches; moderate and severe dehydration can lead to dizzy spells, fainting and more. If you live in a hot climate, work in a physically demanding field, or are playing sport, it’s especially important to stay hydrated. The body loses a lot of fluid through sweat – fluid which has to be replaced.
A good guideline for drinking throughout the day is to aim for nine to fourteen regular glasses of fluid, or between 2.2 (women) to 3 litres (men and women who are breast feeding), or 74-100 fluid ounces of fluid per day. Drink regularly throughout the day rather than waiting until you feel thirsty; keeping a water bottle handy helps with this.
You need extra fluids:
- If you are exercising (the amount you will need to intake depends on how much you exert yourself).
- If the weather is hot and you are sweating.
- If you are ill i.e. have diarrhea or are vomiting.
- If you are breast feeding.
Although all fluid counts in your daily fluid intake, juices and carbonated drinks are often loaded with sugar and zero nutrients. Caffeinated beverages, like tea and coffee, do count toward daily fluid intake – but these, if loaded with extra sugar or artificial additives, can be as bad as juices and carbonated drinks. Water is almost always the best option for staying hydrated. It’s healthy, lacking in sugar and other additives. If you consume dairy, skim milk may also be a good option. Food also supplies about 20% of water intake per day – many foods comprise of mainly water, fruit and green leafy vegetables are examples.