Do you know the difference between a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant (also R.H.N. in some provinces) and the "wellness coach" that is selling you the next magic shakes or supplements? In a world of many unregulated titles it may seem confusing and like there is not a lot of difference - until there is!
As a Holistic Nutrition professional in Canada I have completed extensive training and education on how to evaluate client's nutritional needs and identify imbalances, in order to provide them with personalized wellness plans that include information on nutritional choices and lifestyle recommendations to support their health.
Our education has included courses such as anatomy and physiology, nutritional symptomatology, biochemistry, preventative nutrition, nutrition through the life cycle, sports nutrition, supplements and drug interactions, alternative diets, vegetarian and vegan diets, and more. I also had to complete more than a dozen case studies, and a three hour certification exam. As C.H.N.C./R.H.N. we also have a code of ethics and practice that we must abide by.
Holistic Nutritional Consultant professionals work with their clients to help them make optimal food choices and provide them with food shopping advice and information, such as help them understand nutritional labels, obtaining the most nutritional benefit from our foods, and up-to date information and evidence on supplements. Some also provide cooking and food preparation lessons. In Holistic Nutrition we integrate scientific evidence with the holistic approach of the whole individual and their unique needs, rather than a one size fits all approach.
Your health is a multifaceted process and it will benefit from a multidisciplinary approach.
There is so much a C.H.N.C./R.H.N. can help you with, including, but not limited to: guide you through an elimination diet when you want to identify trigger foods, improve your diet in order to help with digestive problems, how to make better nutritional choices when you have goals such as weight loss or prevention of CVD. In my practice, I also like to work with a habit-based approach: Rather than just giving you all the information you need and hope for the best, I work with you to implement changes at your own pace that will last long-term.
An important aspect of our practice is to know what we can do for our clients and what we cannot. We are not here to replace the work of a Dietitian or other healthcare providers. We can work as a team with them to provide you the best and most adequate service for your needs, because your health is a multifaceted process and it will benefit from a multidisciplinary approach. We all serve a different purpose in your well-being and can compliment each other for your benefit. Sometimes a client will work with a Dietitian first and then with a C.H.N.C.
With all that said, Holistic Nutritional Consultants are self-regulated. This means that unfortunately people with little to no formal training in nutritional practices can use similar titles to sell you a pre-made dietary plan, shakes or expensive supplements without even knowing your health history. I have also heard some of them make incredible medical claims that only puts them at a risk for a lawsuit. And why should this matter to you? Or, why does it matter to me? Because unfortunately their practice can negatively affect those in my profession as we all get judged under the same lens.
What can you do as the consumer? Ask the person you want to work with about their education, about their scope of practice, what regulatory associations they belong to, what is their code of ethics. Listen carefully to any promises they give you and ask for the evidence on any health claim they make. And please, if you are dealing with a serious health condition visit a healthcare provider and don't rely on a pink beverage to fix it.