Julia Melius '21, '22G

"There are so many reasons why nutrition is important"
UNH nutrition major Julie Melius

Julia Melius is a nutrition master’s student from Reading, Massachusetts. She graduated from UNH in 2021 with a degree in nutrition with a dietetics option.

COLSA: What is your nutrition option and why did you choose it as your major?

Julia Melius: For my undergraduate degree, I chose the dietetics option for so many different reasons. When I was still in high school and first thinking about what I wanted to major in, I always knew that I wanted to work in healthcare but wasn't quite sure exactly what I wanted to do within that field. I knew I didn't want to go into nursing or pre-med and while I was scrolling through the options for majors at UNH, I saw nutrition and it all seemed to fall perfectly together.

I have always had an interest in nutrition and being diagnosed with several food allergies when I was 12 made me an expert nutrition label-reader. It was the difficulties of navigating life with food allergies that made me realize that this is what I should do. I want to be there for and guide individuals through these major dietary changes, and I decided the dietetics track would provide me with the most opportunities to do this.

I chose to stay an extra year at UNH to complete my master's degree in nutritional sciences because I found through my undergraduate coursework that I love the more science-heavy aspects of the nutrition field, and I figured what I would learn at the graduate level would further my future career as a dietitian.

COLSA: Why, in your own view, is nutrition important?

Julia: There are so many reasons why nutrition is important. I think the most objective answer would be that our diets are one of the few modifiable risk factors for several chronic diseases. But for me, nutrition is important because it teaches us all the amazing things food can do for our bodies and all that our bodies do with food in keeping us alive and healthy. Learning about this sort of symbiotic relationship that occurs between ourselves and food has helped me really appreciate and focus on the ways in which I nourish my body.

COLSA: What do you love about the nutrition program at UNH?

Julia: There is so much to love about the nutrition program here at UNH, but this program would not be as amazing as it is without the incredible professors. They all work so hard to provide coursework that is meaningful, interesting and engaging. The support that I have received from all of them in my almost five years at UNH has been unparalleled. So many of the amazing opportunities I have had in my time here, such as participating in research on the gut microbiome or conducting my own research project on eating competency in college students with food allergies, would not have been possible without the suggestions and support from my professors.

The professors make a conscious effort to teach future nutrition professionals the importance of inclusivity, cultural humility and compassion within patient/client care. I will be a better dietitian from having been taught and supported by them, and I am so grateful.

COLSA: What do you plan to do with your degree?

Julia: I am on the track to becoming a registered dietitian. Once I complete my master's degree, I plan to complete a dietetic internship, which I am currently in the process of applying to. After that, I plan to work as a clinical dietitian, keeping compassionate patient care at the forefront of my practice.

COLSA: If you could offer one bit of nutrition advice, what would it be?

Julia: Food is meant to be enjoyed, so my nutrition advice would be to allow yourself to enjoy it. It has been said so many times before, but there really are no "good" or "bad" foods. Maintaining a healthy relationship with eating can be difficult, so be patient and gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to eat what you want and tune into your body, it will often let you know what it needs.

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