Every time I tell someone that I am majoring in Nutrition Science, I get a number of similar responses. "Oh, you must be a health nut," or, "Do you just, like, learn about fruits and vegetables?" Or, my favorite: "It's not that hard to learn how to eat healthy." Thanks, people. While I will admit that I am usually somewhat of a health nut, which is what initially sparked my interest in the field, that is not the only reason why I am a nutrition major. I am studying nutrition because I want to help people understand the importance of diet and the impact it can have on every aspect of our lives. There is so much false information about health out there, and I want to learn the truth and help others learn it as well. Also, I love food (I'm a Spoon writer, duh).

The major of nutrition is SO much more than just learning about what's "healthy." We learn about food, obviously, but that's not all. The variety of courses in our education prepares us for numerous career opportunities. Students that major in nutrition go on to be Registered Dietitians, food analysts, hospital administrators, educators, and even doctors. Here are some common misconceptions to which most nutrition majors can probably relate.

We Have It Easy

As a peer advisor in the Nutrition Department here at UC Davis, I meet a lot of students who want to change majors because they liked NUT 10 (our basic lower division nutrition class). NUT 10 is not a summary of our education. Nutrition is rooted in biology and chemistry. During the first half of college, we take a year of chemistry, a year of biology and two quarters of organic chemistry. During our third year, we take two quarters of upper division biochemistry, and the worst part is that it's at 8 AM every single day. We don't even start nutrition courses until winter quarter of our junior year. We do not, by any means, have an easy major. While the struggle can be so real, we manage to persevere and kick butt.

We All Become Nutritionists

A classroom with teacher and students

USDAgov on Flickr

First of all, don't ever say "nutritionist" in front of nutrition majors; it's dietitian. Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, but Registered Dietitians put in hours of work and dedication to be able to rock that title. Aside from that little note, there are so many career opportunities for nutrition students. Here at UC Davis, there isn't even a flat-out "nutrition" major, which goes to show just how complex the nutrition field is. We have Clinical Nutrition, Nutrition Science (Public Health) and Nutrition Science (Nutritional Biology). 

Clinical Nutrition is designed for students who want to go the Registered Dietitian route. Nutrition Science (Public Health) incorporates food and nutrition courses but also includes social science courses to prepare students for the public health setting. Nutrition Science (Nutritional Biology) encompasses food and nutrition courses, but the brave souls that take on this major also have to take calculus, physics and intense labs that prepare them for a career in the medical field. 

We Don't Eat Junk Food

One time my co-worker was eating a brownie and someone actually said to her, "aren't you a nutrition major?" It's comical how often people make comments about our eating habits just because we are nutrition majors. Yes, most of us eat quite healthy the majority of the time, but we are allowed to have sugar without being ridiculed. I cannot control myself around chocolate chip cookies, but that doesn't mean that I don't care about my diet. I love food in any way, shape, or form. Everything in moderation, right?

We Only Shop At Whole Foods

We're broke college students too, so there is no chance that we can afford to get all of our groceries at Whole Foods. While I support buying organic food, I do not think it is absolutely necessary. There is no evidence that organic means healthier, and I don't think the inability to buy organic produce should prevent someone from eating fruits and vegetables. Stores like Whole Foods are essential when in need of specialty items such as matcha or açaí powder (some of my personal favorites), but I prefer to buy my quinoa at Target and save a few bucks. 

We Take Lots Of Supplements

vitamins/supps - 1 HD Photos curated by Cameron Williams | Unsplash

Crew on unsplash

With the relentless advertising about getting the essential vitamins and minerals in our diets, supplements are everywhere. Because they are associated with health, one would think nutrition freaks like myself would be all over them, but this is simply not true. Nutrition majors care about meeting nutrition requirements through food. Some supplements, such as vitamin B12, may be necessary for vegans, but all of our required nutrients do not have to be obtained from pills. Plus, consuming more than the necessary amount of a vitamin or mineral will just cause the overage to be excreted or can even lead to toxicity if enough is consumed. Do yourself a favor and stop popping those Flintstones gummies like candy.

Next time you meet a nutrition major, don't make faulty assumptions. Ask for the real facts about food and health; we'll tell you.