Egg yolks, vilified for decades before earning gradual acceptance into the sphere of healthfulness, have once again been deemed dangerous – as dangerous as smoking cigarettes
Not the kind of back-and-forth news that inspires confidence at the dining-room table.
While it’s been recognized that poor diets and sedentary lifestyles are behind the growing prevalence of chronic diseases, making sound eating choices is no easy task. Seemingly every day a new study comes out that contradicts the last. Packaged foods boast all kinds of messaging – all-natural, fat-free, gluten-free.
Best-selling books push everything from a grain-free, pre-agricultural diet reminiscent of what humans consumed in the Paleolithic era, to one entirely devoid of animal products, each defending its claims with equal veracity and – you guessed it – lots of studies.
To help folks make sense of the jumbled world of food and nutrition, whether it’s for themselves or others, the University of Washington is launching its online Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health
, offered through UW Professional & Continuing Education.
The series, developed in partnership with the UW Nutritional Sciences Program
, is designed to serve as a starting point for those thinking about a career change, as well as a primer for professionals already in the health and wellness field – personal trainers, coaches, nurses, etc. Folks with a personal interest in the topic are also encouraged to apply.
“Poor nutrition is linked to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, strokes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis – even some cancers,” said instructor and registered dietician Jennifer Tucci. “These are conditions many people accept as a fact of getting older, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”
The first of three courses deals with chronic disease prevention, healthy aging and overall wellness.
“We’ll be diving into case studies involving someone the students know,” Tucci said. “Your mother-in-law – she’s been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or pre-osteoporosis. Here’s what she’s doing and eating. What advice would you give her, and how would you explain it to her so she understands?”
Steeped in nutritional sciences, students will come away prepared to think critically when presented with studies and other health claims. Is the information credible? Is there any scientific basis behind it? Can you trust a study that’s based on 10 research subjects or funded by food companies?
Being able to articulate key nutritional concepts in layman’s terms is another focal point.
“It’s not just, ‘You better eat your vegetables,’” Tucci says of the program’s learning objects. “But it’s also about explaining the why.”
The second course – Molecular Gastronomy – revolves around the science of food preparation and emphasizes hands-on, in-home culinary experiments. A free excerpt from the class is found here
Sports dietician and accomplished figure skater Emily Edison
teaches the final course on sports nutrition, which concerns itself with optimizing performance in athletes of all levels.
“We’ll talk about energy systems in the body, all the micronutrients and macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and protein), supplements, eating disorders, weight management, muscle mass gaining and all the hot trends,” Edison said.
Of particular importance to athletes is being able to perform at a high level while staving off injuries, which can be just as problematic for an athlete’s training plan as it is for morale.
Edison, who’s consulted for a variety of collegiate sports teams including those at the UW, has seen firsthand how food choices can both sideline athletes and impact their performance.
“From an injury standpoint, an athlete who is taking in enough calories but is making terrible choices – as far as fast food or not putting enough nutrients in their body – can continue to have injuries,” she said. “I’ve seen a reduction in injuries from people who fuel their bodies better.”
Those who earn the certificate and wish to become registered dieticians will still need to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition from an accredited university
, complete an internship and pass a national examination.
But for professionals looking to expand their knowledge base, the UW Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health can be a sound launching pad. Each of the three courses can also be taken individually at any time.
“Preventive care is a focal point [in this certificate],” Tucci said. “It’s about doing something before people get their chronic diseases and get put on drugs.”To learn more about the UW Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health, visit http://www.pce.uw.edu/certificates/food-nutrition-health.html. To explore other UW Professional & Continuing Education certificate programs, visit http://www.pce.uw.edu/finder.aspx or contact us.