Dying to Become a Dietitian

I want to take a second degree in Nutrition.

I entertained the thought before when I encountered a scholarship for a Master’s degree in China. However, I didn’t push through with the application because a) I don’t have a background in Nutrition to begin with, and b) the nutritional studies in China might be different from the ones here, perhaps leaning more towards traditional methods and such. Just when I thought that I would never be bothered by the desire to study Nutrition again, the fact that the people around me have shitty diets and are getting sick because of them has very recently reignited my agitation.

In particular, my older brother whose diet consists of around 60% meat, 35% processed foods, and 5% whole foods is not the healthiest person I know, and he has been coughing like crazy for more than a week now despite his visit to the doctor and prescribed medication. Furthermore, when he is in a normal condition, he works out yet remains totally overweight. The rest of my family still eats a lot of red meat and white bread, finishes liters of soda every month, consumes tubs of ice cream, and practically inhales instant noodle cups. I worry for their health, especially my parents’ as they are both already 50 years old. I’m pretty sure none of them are willing to be vegan (although my father is a pescatarian) but I do want them to be more conscious about their dietary choices. If I were to become a dietitian, I could help them and other people recover from sickness without having to pop a single pill. Food, after all, should be the first thing that comes to mind when one desires to be cured. With all the medicines being made in factories and advertised like crazy nowadays, though, we seem to have forgotten that.

I talked to my recently certified nutritionist friend (who is a brilliant chap, by the way, could be deemed a walking encyclopedia and has, over the years, developed a much better sense of humor) and he told me to go for it as he has never met someone so passionate about diets. Quite frankly, I never thought that I’d turn out this way. Before coming to Korea, I did not touch vegetables at all. I was a bit picky about fruits, too. I loved meat, chocolate, chips, and pastries. Because of my sweet tooth, I gained weight every year and became a yo-yo dieter. I remember going through an entire month not eating lunch, thinking that I could go without the calories; I ended up fainting while we were grocery shopping.

Things changed when I became a foreign exchange student. In Korea, I learned to eat and love vegetables. There are plenty of Korean meat dishes but they have all sorts of delicious vegetable-filled dishes as well. Unfortunately, I gained a whole lot of weight while I was there, thanks to pizza nights at our dormitory, midnight fried chicken feasts with friends, and loads and loads of alcohol a.k.a. Koreans’ favorite medium for forging and strengthening relationships. I reached my highest ever weight of 53 kg (116 lbs) within only 5 months. It was during summer vacation that I decided that no, I refuse to be this pudgy. So, I went to the gym. Every single day. After a little over 1 month, I was down to 47 kg (103 lbs). I was able to do that because I applied what I had researched about going on a proper diet and taking on an exercise routine. That summer had been an eye-opener for me and if I had not found out everything that I did then, I would probably still be a wreck today.

Another thing that has increased my interest in nutrition was taking up a Food Nutrition class during my last year of university. We were taught only the basics but they all fascinated me nonetheless. I received a high grade in it after the semester and the knowledge I received there remain very useful to me in everyday life. Although we were taught not to go for any sort of fad diets, I tried the Atkins Diet early this year (I’m a stubborn bastard) and went through nightly chest pains because of all the fat I was consuming. I eventually reached ketosis but I was more miserable than ever. Along the way, I found out about the 80/10/10 diet which worked for me and I absolutely loved because of all the [unlimited] fruits and vegetables involved. It was that diet which pushed me towards the direction of veganism. Soon enough, documentaries like “Forks Over Knives,” “Hungry for Change,” and “Vegucated” convinced me to become a vegan for life. I have not turned back since. Veganism is the ultimate DIEt for me, the lifestyle and way of eating that I will take with me to the grave.

I want to become a nutritionist so that no one else will have a shitty relationship with food as I did. I want people to enjoy their lives to the fullest, free from diseases, and at the same time love the right kinds of food. I do not expect to be able to convince people to let go of their bacon and french fries, but I can certainly show them that plant-based foods can be just as–if not more–tasty and wonderful as processed foods. I am also thinking of educating the poor and letting them know that a plant-based diet is not only healthier but more suitable for them since most fruits and vegetables are cheaper than meat. My highest ambition is to eventually be part of the government, specifically at the Department of Health, so that I can reach out to everyone in the country and influence them by providing dietary and exercise guidelines and coming up with projects that promote and establish healthy habits. It’s a long shot, I know, and the soonest that I can go back to school is in 2015 (I plan on working for a year to fund my education) so my goals will have to wait, but you can’t completely change your life without having the right amount of drive for it, yes?

I should really mention this to my parents soon.

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