Ever wonder what the day-to-day looks like for a holistic nutritionist? You may have a passion for clean eating, cooking healthy recipes, dialing in your diet to improve your health, and helping other people. But is a holistic nutritionist certification right for you?
It’s not always going to be a regular 9 to 5, but it is a great way to make a living and make a difference. Take a look at the typical day for a holistic nutritionist, and imagine yourself stepping into the role.
Take Care of Yourself
Before you can take care of other people and teach them how to eat healthy, you’ve got to work on yourself. You’ll start your day off with a morning routine, or morning rituals like journaling, meditation, yoga, exercise, and of course, a healthy breakfast.
“For breakfast, I’m usually doing a smoothie,” says holistic nutritionist Michelle Armstrong. “I throw in some water, spinach, protein powder, berries, and typically like a high-fiber flax or chia seed.”
Conduct One-on-One Consultations
A big part of your role as a holistic nutritionist is working one on one with clients. They might meet you at your office, or you might visit them in their home. You’ll discuss their health and nutrition goals, talk about their diet, teach them about healthy eating. And you’ll develop nutrition plans to help them achieve their goals to lose weight, build muscle, manage a chronic condition, or prevent disease. But that’s not all you’ll be doing during one-on-one visits.
“In the role of nutritionist you really need to be a good people person,” says holistic nutritionist Holly Patterson. “People quite often come to you, and they open up. What they’re telling you can be quite personal. And you need to be able to be relatable, be empathetic, and give them a sense of trust.”
And in today’s tech-driven world, one-on-one consultations as a nutritionist can also take place via video chat, phone calls, and email communication.
Review Current Research
Ever sat down to watch the news or read a magazine article on a nutrition-related topic, and feel more confused than informed? It happens, even to experienced nutrition experts. So imagine how the average person feels when they hear about a new diet, supplement, weight loss program, or made-for-TV food product that’s going to improve their health—More confusion.
“An ongoing struggle for a nutritionist, which I don’t mind, is deciphering between two different opinions and two different pieces of research that conflict each other,” says nutritionist Rachael Richardson. “For example,...I've got someone on the news telling a client that something is bad for them. I actually have to figure out, why is this being said? What's actually happening? What piece of research did the media grab on to? And how are they turning it into this piece of news?”
You’ll dig into health and nutrition journals, read blog posts and articles by thought leaders in holistic nutrition, and stay on top of current media trends, so you can help your clients navigate the sometimes confusing information out there about health and nutrition.
Create and Test Healthy Recipes
When holistic nutritionist Linda Houle-Robert set out to run her first marathon, she knew it wouldn’t be easy. She knew she’d have to run a lot of training miles, learn to manage nutrition and hydration, keep her bones, joints and muscles healthy, and mentally fight through the wall to go the 26.2-mile distance.
But running a marathon turned out to be easy, compared to being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and hearing doctors tell her she would be forced to walk with a cane, and eventually confined to a wheelchair. That was more than a decade ago, and since then she’s crossed the finish line of 16 marathons.
How did she do it? Living a healthy lifestyle, and learning to prepare healthy foods made all the difference
“I love finding new healthy foods and experimenting with new recipes that I absolutely enjoy testing on my children,” says Houle-Robert. “I am also absolutely fascinated to learn how food is intimately connected to our health, and how we can simply change the way we eat to improve it...I like to share with my clients...how easy and fun it can be to eat healthy and to also help them discover that eating healthy can be very tasty.”
As a holistic nutritionist, you’ll come up with your own healthy-eating recipes, and you’ll test out recipes recommended by others. This part of your job might also include cooking demonstrations for small groups, grocery store tours to help people learn to shop for healthy ingredients, and one-on-one cooking demonstrations with clients. Yum.
Manage Your Business
While your main objective as a holistic nutritionist is to help people learn to eat healthy to live a better life, get fit, lose weight, or manage or prevent disease, there’s also a business component to being a holistic nutritionist.
You’ll likely find yourself preparing presentations or getting invited to be a guest speaker to talk about food and nutrition-related topics. And many holistic nutritionists run a blog, website, or podcast. Some also write for health and nutrition publications, spend time marketing their business to help more people, attending networking groups, and a couple of conferences or tradeshows each year. And if you like food and nutrition and helping people, being a holistic nutritionist may be the right fit for you.
“It’s all positive,” says Patterson. “You’re helping people implement some changes that are going to improve their lifestyle. If they can leave understanding that they can enjoy their food and still achieve the goals that they want to, it’s very satisfying.”
What will a day in the life as a holistic nutritionist look like for you? Check out the AFPA Holistic Nutritionist Certification to find out more, and learn how to make a successful career change.