How to Write an Informative Essay in Nutrition – All the Details You Are Going to Need

Writing guide
Posted on October 16, 2019

Nutrition is a rather paradoxical discipline. There are few things with which your average human being interacts more often on a daily basis. We seemingly know everything about the contents of all the foodstuffs we consume. People have been thinking about the roles and influences of different nutrients for centuries. Scientists have been systematically researching the subject for at least the last couple of centuries.

Meanwhile, it often feels that we still know next to nothing. Dietitians and other medical professionals keep finding new facts and correlations. Fad diets emerge, reach insane popularity and fade into obscurity in a blink of an eye. Even nutritionists themselves who are supposed to know hard facts are divided into a number of schools that hold mutually exclusive views.

In such an environment, writing a purely informative essay – that is an essay that does not try to persuade or prove but only to provide pure and objective information – may look like an excessively difficult task. Nevertheless, it is possible – and this guide will tell you how to do it.

How to Write an Informative Essay in Nutrition – Beginning Your Work

1. Selecting a Topic

Sometimes, your professor assigns a topic for you. More often, you have to choose one yourself – professors tend to delegate this right to you because it tests your ability to not just gather the information, but also to carry out the entire project all by yourself. You may have to connect it to the topic of your course, but it is not always necessary. All in all, it is always a good idea to follow these principles when choosing:

  • Try to choose something interesting. If you are personally genuinely interested in the subject, it will be easier to find information and write about it;
  • Look for originality. You may choose a topic hundreds or even thousands of students worked on before. It will probably be easier to write and gather information about, but if you simply repeat something already written hundreds of times, do not expect to impress your professors. Try to formulate a topic that will stand out from the crowd;
  • Be specific. You should provide solid, trustworthy, provable information. Nutrition is often a rather vague discipline, because it is so hard to separate meaningful information from all the noise. For example, when you research the influence of meat consumption on human health, it is impossible to make a 100 percent certain conclusion because there are thousands of other factors that may affect the results without you ever considering them. When you choose a topic, clearly define what you are going to write about and where your analysis ends;
  • Do research before proceeding. Do not choose a topic at random hoping to dig deeper later on. Gather literature and study it at least on a basic level before you commit to anything. Otherwise, you may end up with a topic that is, e.g., too broad (and unsuitable for an essay) or does not have enough material to work with.

Eventually, you should end up with a workable topic. Here are some examples:

  • The Role of Balanced Diet in the Development of Human Organism during Early Childhood;
  • Influence of Proper Nutrition on Physiological and Psychological Development of Teenagers;
  • Positive and Negative Effects of Vegetarian Diet;
  • Scientific Evidence in Favor of Meat-Eating Diet;
  • Genetically Modified Foods: Is There Any Scientifically Backed Evidence of Their Harm?

2. Find Information on the Subject

To provide information on the topic, you first have to find this information. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about the subject you chose, you cannot rely only on your own anecdotal knowledge, for academic writing cannot exist in isolation.

Today, sources may be (very roughly) divided into three general groups:

  • Scholarly peer-reviewed journals. The most trustworthy source, because the information published in them goes through a strict screening process, and the likelihood of something untrue or doubtful getting through it is relatively small. However, do your own checks nevertheless – no matter how good the reputation of a journal is, mistakes do happen. You can find information about them on many academic databases, such as JSTOR, EBSCO, Google Scholar and so on. Running a search using some keywords related to the topic usually does the trick;
  • Books. One of the most accessible and reliable sources of detailed information on any subject. However, remember that there is not nearly as much quality control here, and that those writing and publishing a book can follow their own agenda. The easiest way to find a book you need is to use your library’s search system or Google Books – the latter allows you to look among all existing publications, without being limited by the selection in a specific library;
  • Websites. The easiest source of information to access and also the one that should be approached with most caution. Plenty of websites offer excellent (and often unique) information, but there is no quality control at all – anybody can publish anything, and at a much smaller expense than in the case of books. This means that you have to carefully check such sources and never trust them too much anyway.

3. Check and Evaluate Your Sources

Not all sources are equally useful. In addition to the factors mentioned above, you should evaluate each source based on these criteria:

  • Relevance. Is the information in the source relevant to your topic? It may be interesting in itself, but if it does not provide data about the subject matter (e.g., if you write about LCHF diet, and your source gives some very curious facts about protein-heavy diets, it is probably not worth using);
  • Content accuracy/credibility. Did you see similar data in other sources? Does the author provide evidence?
  • Author credibility. What do you know about the author? Is he/she an expert? What are his/her credentials?
  • Source credibility. What do you know about the source? Is it peer reviewed? What works does it refer to?
  • Currency. How old is the source? Were there any new developments in the field since then? Do you need current information?
  • Objectivity. Are there any sings of bias? Does the author/publisher have reasons to be biased?

4. Write an Outline

An informative essay is a rather straightforward task that does not require overly complicated planning. You simply inform the audience about the topic and try to present this information in a logical and easy-to-grasp manner. However, having an outline – a detailed plan – is still a good idea. Note down what you will write in every segment of the essay:

  • Introduction – more on that further;
  • Body paragraphs – which aspects of the topic you will cover, in what order, what supporting information you will provide, how you will connect paragraphs with each other;
  • Conclusion – what parallels you will draw with the introduction, what information you will cover again, what you will single out as the most important information about the subject matter.

How to Write an Informative Essay in Nutrition – Writing Tips and Principles

1. Writing the Introduction

Introduction is a very important part of any paper. However, in case of an informative essay, it has certain specific features. There is no need for a thesis statement in the usual sense of the word – you do not prove anything and do not have a thesis per se. Instead, its structure should be along these lines:

  • Hook – a sentence or two that attract the audience’s attention. Usually it is a statement that draws attention to a problem that may normally be left uninvestigated, an interesting quote or something else that allows you to lead up to the main topic of your paper;
  • Background summary – you summarize the basic background information about the subject matter, mention the most authoritative sources of information and authors, lead up to the specific area you want to describe and explain in your essay;
  • Purpose statement – you delineate the area you want to discuss.

2. Writing Body Paragraphs

The body of the essay is a section that contains all your main thoughts on the subject. It is what you started it all for, the rest just leads up to it and summarizes what you say here.
Essay body is supposed to be divided into several paragraphs, each dedicated to a particular idea. Do not mix things up and carefully divide individual ideas into separate paragraphs, while maintaining logical connections between them using transition words and expressions. At a glance, the way body paragraphs in your average informative essay are arranged and structured may seem random, but in reality, a good academic writer strives to stick to three ideals:

  • Unity – each individual paragraph deals with a single central point or idea, without steering away from it. Every sentence in a paragraph move that point further;
  • Coherence – all sentences within the paragraph are organized in a logical manner and work as a single unit;
  • Relevance – all sentences of the paragraph deal with the same general topic and pursue a single purpose.

3. Writing the Conclusion

Just like with most other essay types, the conclusion here usually mirrors the introduction. You get back to the question you intended to answer in the very beginning and address it once again. Remember that your job is to provide information – do not steer away from it towards persuasion.

It may be a good idea to further stir up the audience’s interest in the subject. You can do it by posing another question, mention future implications of the research in the direction you covered or present a challenge related to the topic you wrote about.

4. Cite Sources

As we already mentioned, nutrition is a discipline with a lot of ambiguity and contention on numerous points. This means that you should be particularly careful when making any allegations. Every statement you make should be supported by at least two independent pieces of evidence to show that at least a part of scholarly community supports this point of view. When using information by other scholars, make sure you quote them properly (lest you are accused of plagiarism) and follow the formatting rules used by your college.

How to Write an Informative Essay in Nutrition – Proofreading to Perfection

1. Put Some Distance between You and the Writing

Proofreading the text you just finished writing is largely a futile task. You remember it too well, you are tired and prone to skipping over mistakes simply because you already know what you expect to read. Set it aside for as long as you can afford – a few hours is good, but a few weeks is much better, albeit rarely possible. Distract yourself from it with completely unrelated tasks. Return when you are ready to give it a fresh look.

2. Get Somebody to Read It

No matter how long you wait, you wrote this essay, and it is impossible to read it as if you were doing it for the first time. Ask somebody you trust to do it for you. Better yet, hire a professional proofreader.

3. Find an Optimal Medium

Some people work best in front of a computer screen. Others find it refreshing to print their essays out and edit them with a pen. The latter approach has an added benefit of changing the way it looks – it can help you notice mistakes and flaws you would normally miss.

4. Divide Your Editing into Blocks

If you can afford it, divide your editing into multiple blocks of time and spread them over a couple of days. You concentration may start to falter after you spend a few hours on it, so it may be better to return to it with when you are refreshed. Also, try dedicating each block to one particular task. For example, spend one block exclusively checking grammar structures, another correcting spelling, still another working on the logical flow of the essay. If you focus on a specific type of mistakes, you are more likely to notice it than if you do an all-out sweep.

5. Do not Rely on Spelling and Grammar Checkers

Some students believe that Microsoft Word in-built spellchecker and various grammar checking tools available online effectively eliminate the need to know any of the rules themselves. However, it is an over-optimistic view on the problem. All these tools are far from perfect. Spellcheckers only point out wrong spelling, not the wrong choice of words (e.g., both “your” and “you’re” are correct spellings but are used in different situations and are easily mixed up). Grammar checkers work with limited number of rules and are not very good at using them to begin with – they return progressively more confusing results the more complex the text becomes. So check your text on your own, hire a professional editor and be attentive!
We do not try to persuade you that writing an informative essay in nutrition is easy – it is a challenging task. However, if you follow this guide, we are sure you will be able to complete your job on time and get excellent results!

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