Nutritionist, Health Coach

By 2015, more and more people were saying, in Unschooling Discussions, "As a nutritionist, I can say..." or "I'm a certified nutritionist..." and then giving very particular recommendations for a special diet or supplements, in the strongest terms—poison, cure.

In New Mexico, where I live, "nutritionists" need to have a master's degree. I soon discovered, though, that in other places, many small schools and lesser outfits were creating certificates and courses and pressing people to take them on the promise that they could make lots of money.

Even with traditional professional courses in dietary and medical studies, people can fail to keep up with changes in the field. Sometimes older professionals are giving advice that's 20, 30 years old. Someone with a single certificate from a particular dietary philosophy, though, will be WAY worse off. They won't feel the need to update or question what they've paid money for. The psychological effect of having invested time and money in something adds value to the information given. If it's not valuable longlasting TRUTH, then the person has been foolish, or wasteful, or worse.

If, in an unschooling discussion, we're recommending spending lots of time with children, directly, trusting that they will choose good foods if there is an array of opportunity and choice, and if foods aren't villified, a member new to the group who has chosen separation from the child to inviest in learning something to sell might panic, or reject, or condemn these ideas that have been working for so many unschooling families for years before the "nutritionist" craze.

For unschoolers, having someone come in and say "I have a PhD in Education, and..." or "I'm a reading specialist, and..." and then disputing what we're saying, is to say that we shouldn't be doing what we're doing because they're experts and we're not. But those degrees, even though they're within a field that studies itself, take years to earn, and the people have experience with classrooms and measures. From that, some come to see the problems caused by schooling.

It's not the same, though, with quickie-certified dietary "coaches" who come armed, like missionaries, with life-or-death "be saved" messages, to be delivered as dire threats and promises. "Launch a career healing others through food with our Health Coach Training Program," says one ad. "Healing others"?

In a discussion on depression in a teen, someone came with a link to a Canadian site selling supplements and said that they had healed her child of depression.

-=-Many people have experienced the improvement in their health, both physical and mental by choosing a diet comprised of whole, living foods. ... I have healed myself, my family, and seen many others regain wellness, on all levels from this approach.-=- **

Someone wrote "as a homeopath..." in her comment. I went to look. In the website of a non-profit organization in Massachusets claiming to be the larrgest, it said "Applicants for certification include both medically licensed health care providers and professional homeopaths, uniting and defining the profession and advancing homeopathy into the mainstream of health care." I didn't find the length of course or cost. homoeopathic The person who wrote that had a website, and an add, and marked herself as CCH (cand.) —so not yet certified, for whatever that stands for. (She's probably a nice person, and I hope she's a good unschooling mom, but her "credential" doesn't give her weight in the unschooling discussions.)

An example of one of the MANY advertisements common in those days:

A powerful, beautiful thing

In 2017, on my facebook page this topic came up again and one mom wrote a powerful, beautiful thing:

Nicole Novakovics:

I loved that line about ordained ministers in the church of diet so much when I read it yesterday, I even mentioned it to my husband. I'm glad you're bringing it up again, Sandra.

I got a diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition, a couple of years ago now (and before we started unschooling), at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, one of two well-known private colleges in Toronto. The program takes about 11 months of full-time study and requires 100 hours of co-op experience to graduate. The school is recognized by the provincial government as a bona fide education institution, as I was able to claim my tuition fees on my tax returns. My diploma gives me the designation of Certified Nutritional Practitioner (a designation invented by the college), and I am legally allowed to practice nutritional counselling in my province, as long I don't diagnose clients or refer to recommendations I make as "treatment" (that's reserved for doctors). Most graduates don't do much with the diploma (myself included), and I've noticed that those who become more well-known in the community have a background in marketing (though self-promotion wasn't a big part of the curriculum). With books, the cost totalled about $10,000 CDN.

BUT, while I learned quite a bit of scientific stuff (and discovered how interested I am in human biology), I was also presented with a lot of information that had no scientific basis, which I mostly believed at the time because I had always mistrusted doctors and other "experts".

And then I tried a very restricted diet that I had heard about to help with some health issues, and that really messed my body up, landing me in the hospital at one point, and causing me, along with the stress of participating in a test-based, learn-what-we-tell-you school environment, to become highly anxious and depressed.

Fortunately, that experience led me back to unschooling, which I had been reading and thinking about for years and now am actually doing with my family! 😀

Letting go of what I internalized because of nutrition school has been hard - so many rules and recommendations for an act as basic to life as eating! - especially since I really enjoyed the cooking aspect of it. My family rejecting a lot of those "healthy" meals (understandably) also contributed to my anxiety, and it took me months of not thinking too hard about food to feel comfortable in the kitchen again. I'm also far less sceptical of doctors, and know that I can take the time to weigh information before going along with any kind of treatment in the future.

I don't regret any of it, though, because, like I said, the extremes of holistic nutrition brought me back to the principles of unschooling, which has helped me heal the damage that they had caused to my perspective and my life.

Sandra Dodd:

It makes you another kind of expert, though. It was expensive deschooling, but still...

I use things I learned in school ALL the time, tons, even though I didn't "become" the things I studied (not counting teaching English—I was a teacher for some years).

I'm glad your marriage survived the diets, anxiety and depression.

"The Ministry" develops

Anyone who's not interested, ignore this.
Anyone who's SO interested that they've gone wildly frothy and emotional, I'm not interested in any defensive rants and will probably delete them, so don't waste your energy, mine and my friends'.

In a discussion elsewhere someone made a statement as an expert because she is "a nutrition and wellness coach."

I wrote "LOTS of people are being ordained as ministers in various churches of diet in the past few years."

I hope that maybe people here could leave links to courses or particular diets or sites that will certify (and maybe even train) someone to be "a nutritionist" or something along those lines.

I'm not talking about real universities where people study health, biology, chemistry more generally, but quickie or particular certifications.

Maybe I'm wrong and there aren't many providers of quick-and-easy certification, but in the past year it seems VERY many people have popped up claiming authority to tell other people what will kill them or save their souls (or at least their soul/body connection).

If it's easy to know or discover, maybe throw in how long it takes and how much it costs.

Ten or fifteen examples would probably satisfy my urge to know. I'm confident that there will be people who know of things I wouldn't know how to find with an internet search.

the original, on my facebook page, March 2017

July 2017 note: I predict that some of the sites below will be gone before long, either because it's a fly-by-night organization, or because fads fade and change. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I'm not, usually. —Sandra

Alex Polikowsky:

A quick google and I found a bunch:

Integrative Nutrition's Health Coach Training Program

Become a Nutrition & Health Coach in 6 Months!

Nutrition Coach CertificationNutrition and Health Coaches—Nutrition Coach Certification
(Alex wrote:
The terms nutrition coach and health coach are used interchangeably. These certifications are offered by a wide variety of sources, such as the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, American Council on Exercise and National Association for Fitness Certification. To become a nutrition or health coach, you are required to read some nutrition material or attend a series of classes and possibly take an exam. The American Council on Exercise certification requires an associate degree or comparable work experience. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and National Association for Fitness Certification do not require college degrees to be awarded a nutrition coach title. After completing the program requirements, a health or nutrition coach certificate is awarded. Coaches will often refer to themselves as nutritionists, but they are not certified to work with different disease states."

Sandra Dodd:

-=-To become a nutrition or health coach, you are required to read some nutrition material or attend a series of classes and possibly take an exam. -=-

Well, then.

Alex Polikowsky:
Holistic Nutrition & Health Coach Program

Nutrition & Wellness Consultant Certification

How to Become a Health Coach

Heidi Snavley:
I'm not sure that a certification is required to call oneself a wellness coach. I am certified through ACE for Personal Training and Group Fitness Instruction and they also have a certification for a Health Coach.

And you got plenty of info ^^

Sylvia Woodman:
Is there a nutrition component to your certification, Heidi?
Heidi Snavley:
Ummm, very basic stuff. I went to school to be a dietician not too long ago but never finished and I also have a certification from C.H.E.K for Holistic Nutrition. It had quite a bit of woooo though so it's kind of a whatever cert. I actually didn't renew that cert so technically I'm not certified any longer, haha!

The holistic nutrition cert lapse, not the Personal Training Cert. I still have that, as well as the Group Fitness.

Alex Polikowsky:
Become the Complete Fitness Professional by adding this distinguished nutrition coach credential to your resume. Nutrition education separates you from other fitness trainers and coaches.

I can keep going.....

Ren Allen:
Wow. And here I thought one needed a degree to give nutrition advice. I'll tell Sierra to skip college after all. Jk!!!!!!

Sandra Kardaras-Flick:
Yep that Integrative Nutrition one seems everywhere these days. I started seeing it last year. "Become a Health Coach in 6 months!!" It sounded like a scam to me. I've seen so many moms list it online as one of their work-from-home suggestions for others. Definitely the latest fad. Meh.

Zann Carter:
I travel in circles with many coaches in a variety of areas. I am also seeing a lot going through the courses at Integrative Nutrition for certification.

Jennifer Ho:
Yup there are tons. Alex has done a great job in listing them! It's actually pretty frustrating to people like myself who have dedicated 5+ years of our lives in getting an actual masters degree (traditional chinese medicine) and another 2 or 3 for doctoral level studies. Thanks for asking about this! Just made me realize something!

Summer MacDonald:
I was in treatment for anorexia 17-18 years ago and my doctor very clearly said - make sure you get a registered dietician (RD) to help you. ANYONE can be a "nutritionist" and they don't often know what they are talking about. And that was a long time ago. The amount of minimally trained "certifications" these days is astounding.

Sylvia Woodman:
Become a nutrition and health coach... (one Alex had linked, but...)

From the fine print at the very end of the page: We are accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP).1

Accrediting organization is not recognized by the US Department of Education. The Idaho State Board of Education does not recognize accreditation organizations that are not recognized by and in good standing with the US Department of Education.

Health coaches trained by the Health Coach Institute achieve "habit change" via coaching and do not diagnose or treat disease, prescribe medication, or perform the functions of clinical occupations. Always consult your doctor. Your health coach is happy to work with your physician's guidance to best support your wellbeing.
* Individual results may vary

Sandra Dodd:

Do particular diets that also have things to sell, or meetings, or whatnot, also certify their own nutritionists?

Jennifer Ho:
unfortunately yes

Sandra Dodd:
I hope people will bring links, then, please.

Kelly Halldorson:
Become a Team Beachbody® Coach

Jennifer Ho:
Certification L1 Presale Signup | Precision Nutrition

Natural Weight Loss Coach Program

Melissa Cabral:
Kelly Halldorson They don't give you a certification to be a nutritionist, but there are lots of Beachbody coaches who call themselves "wellness coaches" or "health coaches". I think that's completely dishonest, but Beachbody doesn't tell their coaches to do that. I am a Beachbody coach myself. All it really is (or SHOULD be) is a person who has done a program and had success with it who then leads a group basically by example and gives motivation to people who need the support to stick to it.

Ria Barnett:
Become an Herbalife Member today and (or) Wellness Coach

Karen Lundy:
I did this one...A one year course. Very short on actual nutrition, dietary or counseling instruction, long on marketing oneself. Waste of too much money, but they are churning out thousands of people.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Aviva Wilhelmina Rice:
ECORNELL PLANT BASED NUTRITION CERT 🤝 by t.collins author of the China study and whole.

Laura Bowman:
i've actually considered this program. but i recently realized i am not as interested in helping people with their diets as i used to be.

Jo Isaac:
==Do particular diets that also have things to sell, or meetings, or whatnot, also certify their own nutritionists?==

These people seem to certify their own nutritionist/wellness coaches in paleo stuff...Primal Blueprint or something -
Primal Health Coach

Jo Isaac:
I found an Australia-specific site, but was actually quite impressed they made it clear a wellness coach does NOT have experience to suggest dietary changes -

Their list - (from

What Health and Wellness Coaches DO NOT do:

Nicole Novakovics:
I loved that line about ordained ministers in the church of diet so much when I read it yesterday, I even mentioned it to my husband. I'm glad you're bringing it up again, Sandra.

I got a diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition, a couple of years ago now (and before we started unschooling)...

This was the best thing in the discussion. The full text is above; click here to go there
or here on facebook

Nina Haley:
Healing Courses for Health—Accredited Diploma in Health and Nutrition

Clinical Nutrition Course (Holistic)

Sandra Dodd:
Self Study: £135 ! Well!
I don't know about UK benefits, but I hope all these newly-trained nutritionists don't all go on unemployment. I think their customers would be those other people.

Facts Change, not just about food. Beware of clinging to the current "truth."

Food Fears Food as religion