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NUTR404 Advanced Culinary Nutrition Science

Unit rationale, description and aim

Special diets are not a new phenomenon yet in recent years the perceived and real need for foods for special diets has increased dramatically. Through a contemporary analysis of the place of special diets within our modern foodscape this unit builds on NUTR404 Advanced Culinary Nutrition Science and facilitates students’ critical examination of popular and evidence-based diets for the maintenance of health and treatment of disease. Students will be expected to develop advanced menu, food and specialist ingredient knowledge, in-depth understanding of special diet food regulations and food service standards and utilise their advanced food planning, preparation and cooking skills to prepare a range of foods to meet the requirements of specific diets. This unit aims to assist students develop the ability to evaluate the theoretical and practical elements of contemporary diets and communicate this to audiences in engaging and influential formats.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Evaluate and synthesise the scientific evidence related to foods and diets designed for specific purposesGC1, GC2, GC5, GC8
LO2Illustrate highly developed food and ingredient knowledge, planning, preparation and cooking techniques, along with in- depth understanding of regulatory considerations through the preparation and presentation of a range of foods/meals for special dietsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC12
LO3Demonstrate highly efficient workflow planning and operation in a commercial kitchen environment with a focus on special diet requirementsGC1, GC2, GC4, GC7
LO4Present scientific and practical evidence in highly engaging formats for a range of audiencesGC2, GC9, GC10, GC11


Topics will include:

  • Nutrition and diets throughout the ages
  • Conditions requiring prescriptive diets
  • Food standards, including recipe guidelines and nutrient criteria, for special diets in food service
  • Modified texture, energy and protein diets and foods
  • Modified macronutrient diets and foods, limited examples provided below
  •    Gluten-free
  •     Wheat-free
  • Modified lactose
  • Modified fibre
  •    Low, no-carbohydrate
  •    Low, no sugar
  • Modified sweetener
  •     Modified fat
  •     Low FODMAPs
  •     Vegetarian and veganism
  •     Carbohydrate counting
  •     Portion control
  •     Ketogenic diet
  • Paleo diet
  • Modified micronutrient/other bioactive components of diets and foods, limited examples below
  •     Sodium
  •     Antioxidants
  • Modified other
  •     Specific food inclusions or exclusions
  •     Allergens and intolerances
  •     Elimination Diets
  •     Menu planning for pregnancy
  • Nutrient composition and laboratory analysis of foods for special diets
  • Advanced food preparation and cooking techniques
  • Workflow planning
  • Food and nutrition writing for multimedia

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit content will be delivered intensively over 4 weeks, with submission of final assessment following. The intensive practical component of this unit is will be delivered concurrently with a post-graduate foods for special diets unit designed to meet the needs of food and nutrition professionals in practice wishing to up-skill, and as a unit in the proposed post-graduate dietetics degree. The theory component will be delivered over a 2-week period followed by the practical component.

The learning and teaching strategy adopted aligns with the sequencing of the learning outcomes and consists of three phases that are designed to provide students with a developmental learning experience. The unit begins with approaches designed to support acquisition of specialist knowledge related to foods for special diets and then follows with the development of a theoretical understanding of concepts and principles needed to inform the skills development, workflow planning in commercial kitchens and presentation of scientific evidence. The approaches used to facilitate students’ learning include online learning modules and readings and will be delivered in the first two weeks of the unit. The unit builds on this theoretical knowledge and assists students to develop understanding and application of advanced culinary nutrition science specifically related to foods for special diets through practical classes. Overall, the approaches used in this unit have a constructively aligned developmental sequence designed to progressively and logically support students learning in ways that maximise the perceived (and actual) relevance and value of each stage. As an overarching strategy, this is expected to engender high levels of engagement, efficiency and effectiveness in students’ study behaviours, and to maximise their learning achievements.

This strategy and approaches will allow students to meet the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit. Learning and teaching approaches will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively in learning activities.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to best enable students to achieve unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment principles and requirements. A range of assessment strategies will be used in ways that support the developmental sequence of the learning and teaching strategy. Thus, the three phases of the strategy are reflected by integration of three appropriate assessment tasks. The first, involves a written assessment task submitted within the first two weeks, and prior to the commencement of the practical component with feedback provided prior to submission of the second written assessment task. This task provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to evaluate the evidence for a specific and current food or diet trend. The second assessment task extends this theoretical understanding by requiring students to demonstrate practical application of the knowledge and skills required to prepare foods for special diets that meet regulatory requirements (where appropriate). This task provides students with practical by practical assessment and feedback on their ability to prepare and cook specific foods/meals. The final assessment task allows students to bring together their theoretical and practical knowledge, understanding and skills of food for special diets and communication for popular media in a written task that requires critical writing skills pitched at diverse audiences. The assessment tasks will allow unit coordinators to assess students’ demonstration of the learning outcomes and attainment of graduate attributes.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Written assessment task:

Enables students to demonstrate their ability to source and use scientific evidence to critically evaluate a current food/diet trend



Practical assessment:

Enables students to demonstrate their develop of advanced culinary skills for special diets and efficient work practice in a commercial kitchen environment


LO2, LO3

Written assessment task: 

Enables students to create elements in a media portfolio suitable for publication across popular media formats that uses scientific and practical evidence to refute/support a contemporary diet approach


LO1, LO2, LO4

Representative texts and references

Agency for Clinical Innovation. (2011). Therapeutic Diet Specifications: For Adult Inpatients. Retrieved from 

Note: this document is under constant revision and updates must be retrieved from 

Chendard, C.A., Rubenstein, L.M. Snetselaar, L.G. & Wahls, T. L. (2019). Nutrient Composition Comparison between a Modified Paleolithic Diet for Multiple Sclerosis and the Recommended Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern. Nutrients, 11(3), 537,

Coeliac Australia. (2019). Food Service. Retrieved from

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). 2019. Food Standards Code. Retrieved from  

Healthy Eating Advisory Service. Healthy Choices Guidelines:

History of Nutritional Science – in 4 parts

Carpenter, K. J. (2003). A Short History of Nutritional Science: Part I (1785-1885). The Journal of Nutrition, 133(3), 638-45,

Carpenter, K. J. (2003). A Short History of Nutritional Science: Part 2 (1885-1912). The Journal of Nutrition, 133(4), 975-84,

Carpenter, K. J. (2003). A Short History of Nutritional Science: Part 3 (1912-1944). The Journal of Nutrition, 133(10), 3023-32,

Carpenter, K. J. (2003). A Short History of Nutritional Science: Part 4 (1945-1985). The Journal of Nutrition, 133(11), 3331-42,

Menu Planning Guidelines for Long Day care

Mozaffarian, D., Rosenberg, I. & Uauy, R. (2018). History of modern nutrition science—implications for current research, dietary guidelines, and food policy. BMJ, 361:k2392, doi:


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