Food Studies: Meet Amy, Who Quit Her High-Flying Job to Study Nutrition
GOOD's Food Studies series expands overseas, with the career-changing Amy, who is studying to become a National Health Service Dietitian.
Food Studies features the voices of volunteer student bloggers from a variety of different food- and agriculture-related programs at universities around the world.
Less than 18 months ago, I was an account director at a London advertising agency, working on a global mobile phone account. In lots of ways, everything was going well, but something didn't feel right. I remember very clearly the moment—eating eggs for breakfast on holiday in Buenos Aires, to be precise—when I realized what I should be doing with my life. When I got home, I put my flat on the market and handed in my notice.
It was obvious once I'd thought about it. I love to cook, bake, and feed my friends. The most inspiring ad campaigns I worked on were those encouraging people to take care of their health (my clients included the UK Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency). I've had my own health problems completely turned around just by changing the way I eat. I wanted a completely new career, and one which would contribute some good.
Now, aged 30, I'm in my first year of four studying Nutrition & Dietetics at King's College, London. On completion of the course, I'll be a qualified dietitian and will practice in the UK’s National Health Service. It will be my job to translate the science of nutrition into practical advice which will help patients take control of their health in very accessible, everyday ways.
This isn't my first time at university (I studied history at Oxford and have a masters in gender studies), but I've never done anything like this before. I'll confess to being a bit surprised at how, well, science-y it all is. I never thought of myself as a biochemistry kind of person, and it can be pretty tough sometimes. But it's fascinating—every day I'm lucky enough to learn something completely new. And the things I'm learning are genuinely interesting, not just to a science student with exams to pass, but to any normal person who shops, cooks, and eats. Sometimes you just have to chip away at "the science part" to get to the good stuff.
On the course we cover quite an astonishing breadth of subject matter—though I suppose that breadth becomes a little less surprising when you consider the role of food in our bodies and our lives. In the last week alone, I've had had lectures on topics as wide-ranging as the kidney, cognitive-behavioral therapy, vitamin E, social inequalities in health, pharmacology, and, believe it or not, cheese-making.
It amazes me how little most people know about nutrition, and how many myths are out there. We shape our lives around food and in so many ways it can be make-or-break for our health. A little bit of knowledge about it can be hugely empowering.
To be continued... Amy is a student blogger for the Food Studies feature on GOOD's Food hub. Don't miss the voices of her fellow Food Studies bloggers as they chronicle their experiences learning knife skills, vermicompost, gastronomy, and more.
Photos by the author (1) Amy's eclectic bedtime reading stack, (2) Amy's local food store, Unpackaged, and (3) A recent dinner at Morito, in London's EC1.