Monday, July 2, 2012

Health Coaches vs. Nutritionists

Something I've been curious about lately is the exact differences, and scopes of practice between a health coach and a nutritionist. The two, while in similar fields are kind of like apples and oranges. One is not necessarily better than the other, they are simply different. IIN was kind enough to provide a chart in their materials, so I'll give you a brief overview:

A health coach tackles issues such as headaches, chronic fatigue, and people in general who overall don't have major diseases, but would like to improve their health. It's generally restricted to adults, and you don't prescribe medication, or tell clients to stop taking medication. Overall you recommend simple, less drastic approaches to drugs, diet, and exercise. It focusses on relationships, hobbies and careers, and how these are affecting your health.

A nutritionist helps you examine your eating habits and helps you chose a healthier lifestyle, can diagnose certain diseases related to nutrition, can discuss preventative nutrition, food/nutrition science, and can use nutrient manipulation to enhance response to diseases. Nutritionists work in settings such nursing homes, schools, hospitals, spas, and restaurants.

Making this realization for me means I think IIN is the beginning of this journey. A strong desire and goal of mine is to be able to work with eating disorder patients in some way, and be able to use my experience to help others. Learning proper nutrition for myself through a vegan, whole foods diet was a key in my recovery, and I think learning the same principles could help others. I'd like to be able to help people see that drugs are not the only answer to wellness, a vegan/vegetarian diet can be a key to health as well. I'd like to have the knowledge and experience to teach people this, and in a holistic manner. I love IIN's way of incorporating treating a patient as a whole, looking at their entire life to see what else could be affecting them in addition to what they're eating. Too often I think people are treated by only looking at their symptoms, and not as a human being!

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