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‘Nutrition as a profession is rewarding’

A career as a clinical nutritionist has been satisfying for this alumni from Apeejay School in Saket



School days are all about fun and frolic but for some, it may be a place where the atmosphere may overwhelm them. As a result, the child may end up being quiet and somewhat withdrawn and shyness could prevent him/her from being boisterous.

 The same could not have been truer for Nishtha Raj, a clinical nutritionist and alumni of Apeejay School, Saket. She joined the school in the nursery and completed her Class 12 before she went on to pursue a career in nutrition.

In a candid interview, she talks about how her teachers at Apeejay shaped her into the person she is today and the challenges in her chosen profession. Excerpts from an interview:

Can you share some anecdotes from your school days?

Unlike most kids who love to interact with others, I was a shy kid. I seldom spoke when I was in school. So much so that my teachers would complain to my parents that I was too quiet for my good. Not that I didn’t have a friend, I did. My teachers would encourage me to talk but I could never get over my introverted nature till after I completed my schooling. After that, I constantly talk (laugh) now. But it could be due to my profession. I have to speak with my patients.

How did you end up studying nutrition?

I took my Commerce in Class 12 with Home Science. In my graduation, I chose Home Science and Nutrition. I did BSc Home Science from Delhi University. I did my MSc from Banasthali Vidyapeeth, Jaipur Rajasthan. Within 15 days I was working with Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket as an intern and later I joined them full-time. At present, I am working with HealthifyMe after having worked with Max Hospital for over three years.

My days with the hospital were fantastic. It changed my professional life for the better. It gave me a perspective I would have probably not gotten anywhere else. I had great mentors; one is working with doctors and you get to learn so much from them.

Can you talk about your teachers who shaped you into the person you are today?

Over the years there have been so many teachers. But I like to give a special mention to Nalini ma’am (Home Science teacher), Nishi Bhatnagar ma’am, and Sangeeta Tulsi ma’am (Math teacher). My base was made strong by Sarita Chawla ma’am, Mrs. Madaan ma’am and Shalini ma’am – from Classes 1 to 5. Till Class 6 I was a good student, and then my grades started to fall. They were the ones who brought me out of my slumber. They helped me prove that I was not a failure and could make a name for myself.

Sarita ma’am asked me to come and speak with her students about my school days at Apeejay and my profession. It is not always about marks, it is also about how you have shaped up as a person. It is all about character-building and being a better person.

What is the importance of healthy eating especially at the school level?

After COVID-19, people have become very conscious of what they are eating. They have realised the importance of remaining healthy to keep diseases at bay. And this habit of eating healthy must start from school days. I know so many kids who come for consultation who are healthy till class 6 and suddenly, when puberty hits, they end up with a lot of health problems like weight gain, thyroid issues, and even diabetes.

The reason for this is simple. Till Class 5, there is a lot of emphasis on physical. From Classes 7 upwards it is all about academics and health takes a backseat. This must change. How to eat right and the importance of physical activity must be taught even in serious classes so that they imbibe them in their lives ahead.

Are there challenges in your profession?

Most people would think that there wouldn’t be any. Being a nutritionist is not only about discussing diet’s importance in our lives. Our work is much more than this. To give an example: we work with critically ill patients. The diet that we prescribe has to be very specific, one wrong step can prove to be a setback for the patient.

How does a school shape a person’s personality?

A school can make all the difference. Like, at Apeejay, we were taught values, the importance of character building, and how to be respectful, especially our elders. As you progress in life and start your professional career, people look at you differently if you have done your education at reputed institutes. Teachers teach you how to sit, how to talk, and how to be respectful and face challenges that life throws at you.

What advice would you give to students who want to pursue a career in nutrition?

Life is not all roses. There will be instances where a patient will die right in front of you. One has to have the courage to face it and deal with it. It is also a wide field and each day, the person gets to learn new things. No two people are the same and neither are their needs. For those who love a challenge, this field has plenty to offer. One can do research as well. A career in this sector is extremely rewarding and satisfying if a person loves to study, face challenges, and ease others’ pain.

After COVID-19, people have become very conscious of what they are eating. They have realised the importance of remaining healthy to keep diseases at bay

Nishtha Raj, a clinical nutritionist and alumni of Apeejay School, Saket

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.

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