You may have noticed on the internet lately, that there has been an increasing number of woman (and men!) promoting themselves as ‘Health Coaches’, and yesterday I read an article that seems to be bringing Health Coaches under fire in the mainstream media!!
It really didn’t surprise me that this would happen.
This article on The Guardian’s website was criticising TV personalities Pete Evans and Sarah Wilson over their promotion of healthy eating and weight loss advice, with dietician Susie Burrell claiming that “their one-size-fits-all programs could be detrimental to health”. Both of these two TV celebs have studied a Health Coaching certificate through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), in New York City.
As someone who is University qualified in Human Nutrition, as well as having completed the IIN course, I felt called to write this post to help you make a clear distinction between the two different types of professions, so you can decide who is best suited to helping you.
I get a lot of inquiries from people who want to do the IIN course. It is attractive because it promises you a great career, making great money, helping people find a healthy balance in their lives. A common question I get is whether it provides you with enough education and tools to work in the field of health, and this is hard to answer, because it totally depends on how you want to use it…
IIN educates and trains health coaches to support people who are wanting to transition to a healthy lifestyle, which works best for them. The course covers a wide variety of dietary theories, from modern conventional nutrition literature, to traditional Chinese medicine, from the Atkins to the FODMAP diet. The information is so plentiful, that even with a degree in Human Nutrition, I felt confused as to what is right!
But that is how the course is so ingeniously designed….to give you a taste at how the general public are feeling, which is typically confused and baffled at what they are meant to eat for good health, due to the hundreds of conflicting dietary theories out there.
The qualification does not teach you the detailed biochemistry of metabolism, the intricate physiology of the many incredible human body systems, the etiology of disease or detailed knowledge on the complex pathways of nutrient assimilation and absorption….which are topics Nutritionists and Dieticians learn in detail at University.
BUT…it does teach you how to really listen to people. It teaches you how to ask the right questions to get your clients thinking for themselves. It equips you to help your clients navigate the confusing world of Nutrition & Health without the bias of only one viewpoint (ie what you are taught at University).
I believe that it is a great foundational course, which will encourage students to then seek further study in a subject that really resonates with them. It’s creating a generation of people more interested in Nutrition & Health….and this deserves a jump of joy!!
Health Coaches are like an army of foot-soldiers all around the world; health conscious beings who have a passion to heal this planet, one family at a time. They are out there encouraging people to shop at the local farmers markets, to eat organic, teaching families to read food labels, running health food tours, speaking at schools and corporate events, creating healthy food products, motivating, inspiring, and encouraging people to take some simple steps to a healthier life.
Health coaches are doing some pretty amazing things all around the world, and I think they should be applauded for their passion for a healthier planet…I believe the world desperately needs this.
During my studies at University, I remember learning things that never really sat right with me. I particularly remember one lecture, where we were discussing the importance of fortifying bread with nutrients that people are not getting enough of. To me it seemed a round-about way of doing things…why don’t we make some changes so that people are eating more of the foods that actually contain that vitamin, rather than fortifying unhealthy processed foods with synthetic vitamins.
It really made me question what I was being taught.
While my University training was absolutely worthwhile to learn & understand the amazing science behind Nutrition, I feel that the skills I learned at IIN were extremely practical and powerful . University didn’t teach me about the power of listening, about bio-individuality, food cravings, primary & secondary foods, helping people deal with emotional relationships to food, about health counseling and about all the different theories of healing.
IIN helped me see the bigger picture, and the combination of the two courses have been so perfectly married.
So my advice is this…if you have complicated health issues, then I would suggest that you consider visiting a clinical Dietician or a Nutritionist, as well as a holistic GP. If you know that you need support in your day-to-day living, in eating more vegetables, preparing and cooking healthy wholefoods, planning & organisation, meal ideas for your family, and you need someone who can help hold you accountable & cheer you on, then I highly recommend trying a suitable health coach!!
A Health Coach won’t necessarily give you a strict diet plan to follow, but will rather educate you around making changes to everything in your life that feeds you, such as your career, relationships, physical activity & spiritual practice (whatever that means to you), as well as the food on your plate.
From my experience, I find that it’s usually these primary foods being out of balance that are making people sick.
Warning! If you have a health coach suggesting that you make very radical changes and it doesn’t feel right to you, then check in to see what their qualifications are, talk to your doctor, and if you are uncertain, seek out a qualified Nutritionist, Naturopath or Dietician.
If you’d like to know more, I’m happy to have a chat with you about what I can offer as a Health & Nutrition Coach – having both tertiary qualifications in Nutrition & Exercise Physiology, and a Health Coaching certification from IIN. You’ll be surprised at how much your life can be over-hauled in a 6-month program. Hope this helps you!
Love Ngaire x