Dietician Anuradha - Opportunity Knocks Again & Again!

Name: Anuradha Manivannan
Work stream: Consulting Dietician
Years of work experience: 11+ years
Education history:
• 11th & 12th – Science, with Chemistry & Biology
• Graduation – B.Sc. (Chemistry)
• Post Graduation – PG Diploma in Nutrition & Dietetics

As a teenager, when two crises hit me in quick succession, I was just not sure how I’d be able to fulfill my childhood dream – of treating the ailing. But, I guess, if you hold on to your dreams, be positive & keep searching diligently,…you find a way.

Surviving the twin crises

First, after getting through medical entrance exam and securing a seat (and that too in a reputed institution like JIPMER, Pondicherry), I realized our family did not have the financial resources to fund my education. I had to contend with B.Sc. (Chemistry) for my graduation.

Second, not too much later, I fainted and got diagnosed with a missing heart valve! It exhausted me soon, and I decided not to pursue my post graduation in Chemistry, since that would require working long hours in the laboratory.

My parents suggested that I take up computers, which would not strain me as much physically. But I was not interested to move away from life sciences. I considered doing a pharmacy course, and run a chemist shop, but this meant that I let go of my childhood dream. 

As a kid I would get wounded animals home and attend to them. I grew up imagining that I work in a hospital wearing a doctor's suit. By the time I finished B.Sc., I figured out my way forward: Nutrition & Dietetics.

The big affirmation

I received my first boost of confidence during my 6-month internship as a diet consultant at a doctor’s clinic. My very first patient was a seven year old boy, suffering from a rare disorder - cirrhosis of the kidney. The kidneys were not filtering well, and the short boy weighed 40+ kgs because of water accumulation in the body! While the doctor in the clinic used medication to stop further deterioration of the kidneys, I used food & diet to cure his condition. I spent time in the library to research the patient’s condition and create didet plans. In 3 months, the swelling started to subside. The need for kidney dialysis was averted. In 6 months, the boy’s weight had come down to 16 kgs. The tears in the eyes of the parents, and the joy on the boy’s face confirmed to me that I’d found my calling, indeed!

Thereafter, I moved to Apollo Hospital, Chennai, as a Diet Counselor. The five years I spent there were really rewarding. I received promotions and exposure to many departments – Cardiac, Renal, Psychiatry, Physiotherapy, Gynecology, etc.

Today, I have no regrets of not becoming a doctor. As an independent diet consultant, I work with my own philosophy of what I think works. I give practical diets, which is not just about counting calories. I don’t use supplements, unless really necessary. Along with exercise, that’s what I’ve seen working best.

And because I enjoy this so much, I keep learning & keep looking for ways to become better. I have even done certified courses in acupressure, naturopathy and Reiki, all of which have added new dimensions to the way I practice my profession. Reputed doctors seek me out to validate their diagnosis of their patients, and discuss the line of treatments with me.

My advice for youngsters

1. Follow your interests and the path will show up.
2. Explore different options and try your hand at them.
3. Even when the situation seems hopeless there's an opportunity that is knocking that you have to simply wait and listen to.

Dietician career related perspectives

There’s great demand for such professionals in hospitals, or clinics, of fitness centers. You get the option to start your own consulting practice.

The Education path I’d recommend:

• B.Sc. in any of the life sciences – Chemistry, Botany, Zoology, or Home Science.
• M.Sc/ PG Diploma in – Nutrition & Dietetics, or Clinical Nutrition or Sports Nutrition

Insider Tips: (a) The law protects Dieticians, just like it protects Doctors. (b) Duty timings at hospitals or fitness centers can be inconvenient for married women, with kids.

Entrance Exam


Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams, follow their interests & curiosities and see the opportunities in life's setbacks-- including death itself.