In general terms, diet refers to the types of food that a person, community, or region typically eats. For example, the Nordic diet typically emphasizes locally-available ingredients such as whole grains, root vegetables, berries, fresh fish and seaweed, with red meat only on rare occasions. A vegetarian diet avoids any kind of meat, while a vegan diet also avoids dairy products, and these plant based diets may be followed for ethical or environmental reasons. Learning about the typical diet and gastronomy of a region or groups of people can be an important - and delicious - way to learn about their culture.
Diet can also refer to a particular plan for food and eating that an individual adheres to in order to achieve health goals such as weight loss, athletic performance, or the management of conditions such as high cholesterol or blood pressure. Many public health problems stem from poor diet and nutrition, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. As a result, helping people understand how diet can be an important part of personal and public health practices is playing an increasingly prominent role in healthcare.
Understanding the distinctive features of the diets of different regions and countries, as well as their cultural and historical contexts, can be a passport to an exciting career as a restaurant critic or food journalist. This is a dream job for many people, with opportunities to visit new places, learn the fascinating stories behind different cuisines, meet the chefs who have mastered cooking them, and, most importantly, eat amazing food from all over the world.
Because diet is an important aspect of personal wellness and public health practices, there is also a growing demand for experts in this field. Dieticians and nutritionists provide guidance to people on what to eat in order to meet health goals such as weight loss or muscle gain, or to help patients suffering from chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes manage their condition. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dieticians and nutritionists earned a median annual salary of $61,270 in 2019, and these jobs are expected to grow much faster than the rate of the overall economy over the next decade.
Yes! Coursera offers learning opportunities covering many different aspects of diet, including its relationship to health and nutrition, the cuisines of different cultures, and even the science of gastronomy. Befitting such a regional and global topic, you can take courses from top-ranked schools from across the United States and around the world, including Stanford University, Yale University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Copenhagen, Emory University, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. And, because Coursera lets you view course materials and complete assignments on a flexible schedule, you can learn remotely without having to change your dinner plans - or your existing work or family life.
If you're interested in helping people improve their health through changes in diet, you can become a nutritionist with a background in diet. Or you can take your education one step further by getting certified to be a dietician. If you want to become a chef, learning about diet will help you specialize in certain types of foods or adapt recipes to meet the specific dietary needs of your customers. Other career professionals who use their knowledge of diet and nutrition include grocery managers, corporate wellness directors, health coaches, personal trainers, and freelance writers with a specialty in health topics. A background in diet can lead to many career paths.
Nutritionists and dieticians work in a variety of settings including state and local governments, clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, and private practice. Chefs and cooks work at restaurants, cafeterias, food trucks, and catering companies. Health coaches and personal trainers often work at private health clubs and non-profits like the YMCA, and corporate wellness directors work at many different kinds of companies.
If you have a love of food or you're genuinely interested in helping others make good dietary choices, learning about diet and nutrition might be just right for you. In addition, job growth for nutritionists, dieticians, head cooks, and chefs is strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth from 2019 to 2029 for nutritionists and dieticians is expected to be 8% higher than average job growth, and job growth for head cooks and chefs is expected to be 6% higher than average.
There are a variety of topics that you can study related to diet, such as food science, food technology, culinary arts, agriculture, and more. If you're interested in studying food science or nutrition, you will learn about the science behind different foods and how they can affect health. If you want to study food technology, you'll learn how to select, preserve, process, package, and distribute foods, and you'll learn about food safety. If you're interested in a culinary program, you'll learn how to prepare different types of cuisine and how to pair foods with wine and other beverages. More topics related to food include farming and restaurant management.
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