Today I am answering some commonly asked questions regarding Holistic Nutrition. I have a FAQ page on my site, about Holistic Nutrition, but thought to make a space for these commonly asked questions on my blog, as well! These are questions I get asked on a weekly bases and I hope this post if helpful!
HOLISTIC NUTRITION FAQ
What is a Holistic Nutritionist? How does it differ from Registered Dietitian?
A Holistic Nutritionist, is a health practitioner trained specifically in nutrition, and nutrition-related interventions. Holistic Nutritionists are trained to help with a variety of concerns and symptoms, as well as general lifestyle support. The word “holistic” simply means that we take a holistic perspective to health, understanding how diet, lifestyle, environment, mental and emotional wellbeing all play a role in ones health and all work together. However, I am personally finding the term holistic to be increasingly less meaningful, as many practitioners, in many fields today have a holistic perspective.
Now the term nutritionist is confusing. “Nutritionist” is an unregulated term and can be used by anyone. You will see both Holistic Nutritionists and Dietitians use this term, along with others who may not be certified or registered. A certified or registered nutritionist will have designation behind their name. You will see RD, for Registered Dietitians or the designation CNP or RHN for certified Holistic Nutritionists.
The difference between a Registered Dietitian and a Holistic Nutritionist is mainly the training and schooling, which relates to the context within which each practice. Holistic Nutritionist are trained to work in private practice, and/or for larger organizations within the private sector. The training is heavily focused on 1:1 or group coaching, individualized and personalized health, with a very food-focused approach to nutrition (i.e. cooking, prepping, how to work with food, instead of focusing on isolated nutrients). The training is limited in that it does NOT set you up to work within the public sector, within the healthcare system (i.e. hospitals, community health centres), or work with high-level clinical nutrition (i.e. tube-feeding etc. or medical/complex diseased states). The training to become a dietitian is longer and more extensive as it sets you up to work with much more complex cases that need a deeper understanding of nutrition within the healthcare system. Registered Dietitians also work in private practice, and this is a space we both share.
Are your services covered under insurance?
Nutrition services may be covered within your extended benefit plan. After each session, we provide a receipt with all relevant information for you to send in to your insurance company. If seeing a nutritionist is contingent on your insurance covering these services, it is your responsibility to check your specific plan before making an appointment. Some plans only cover Registered Dietitians (RD’s), so you have to make sure your plan covers CNP nutritionists, as well. Another common misconception is that we are Naturopathic Doctors (ND’s), and that our services can be covered under that designation, which they can not. It is a shame when you think you have a service covered, but it is not, so I always say to just double check with your specific plan before booking an appointment so that you know for sure!
What do you do as a Holistic Nutritionist?
A Holistic Nutritionist can help guide you to make healthy choices for yourself and your family, in a way that works for you. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I provide education and support, to help you feel your best. I base my 1:1 and group coaching around your idea of health/wellbeing and my approach is completely tailored to your individual needs, health concerns, goals, schedule/routine/lifestyle, health history and importantly, preferences. My approach is not prescriptive, and the focus is always on abundance, NOT deprivation/restriction. This has been my approach from day 1, and still remains.
As a Holistic Nutritionist, I am passionate about food, healthy-eating and generally helping others, and along with my private practice and helping my clients 1:1, I also develop workshops and presentations for both corporate and community settings, develop recipes for other brands, as well as write for my blog (this blog) Twist&Sprout. My ultimate goal, is to provide something for everyone, and have offerings for all needs.
What is it like to work with a Holistic Nutritionist? What do sessions look like? How many sessions should I book? What is included in a nutrition plan?
Working with a Holistic Nutritionist can vary in what it looks like. If you are looking for 1:1 coaching, we schedule private sessions, at a pace that suits you best. These sessions can be either in-office, remotely or at-home, and can include cooking sessions or grocery shopping sessions.
Generally, the first step is to book an Initial Consultation, which is divided into two 1-hour sessions. However, if you know you are just looking for grocery shopping or cooking sessions, we can schedule those without an initial consultation. The general process goes like this: The first session is part 1 of the Initial Consultation, and is where I ask you a bunch of questions, while assessing your health concerns and goals. Here I get a solid understanding of your lifestyle, schedule, food preferences, dislikes, your relationship with food and any barriers and hurdles that you may have to overcome. This provides me with the information to create a plan, and help you as best as I can. As part of the Initial Consultation, we schedule a second session to go over the initial plan together. Follow-up sessions are then scheduled as needed, or ahead of time. You can book as many sessions as you like, and there is absolutely no pressure to book a certain number of sessions. I typically see clients 3-6 times per year, but also see clients once per week or even for a single session or two in total.
Working with a nutritionist may challenge your beliefs. I think it is a common notion that seeing a nutritionist is super clinical, or that we are the food police, judgemental or that we do not understand “real life” concerns. Working with a nutritionist can actually be fun and enjoyable, and although we discuss serious matters, and sometimes very personal matters, I try to keep food discussions light-hearted and “real”. I am a real person, just like you, and there is no such thing as a perfect diet. I often relate to many of my clients, and their struggles, and this is a part of my job that I love. I personally do not have a top-down/authoritative approach, but instead I work on building a relationship and meeting you where you are at. This is generally the approach that many of my peers have, when working with their clients, as well.
A nutrition plan includes my recommendations for you, with meal ideas and can include a Monday-Sunday meal plan. I will sometimes recommend supplements, and often touch upon lifestyle habits.
How can you help? Why do people seek nutrition support or want to work with a nutritionist? What can I gain from working with a nutritionist?
Here are the main reasons my clients seek nutrition counselling and support:
- To help with digestive symptoms, such as bloating or other digestive issues
- To help with energy
- To help navigate the crazy world of nutrition, debunk fads and dull the “noise”
- To help with basic nutrition education – they are curious to learn more about nutrition, what the human body typically needs, and how food can support the body and overall health
- To help provide specific ways to include new foods and looking for recipe inspiration
- To help build a healthy relationship with food; eating mindfully, connecting with the body, understanding and honouring hunger/fullness cues etc.
- To help with isolated situations like eating at a restaurant, travelling, hosting parties etc.
- To help build healthy habits while living a busy lifestyle; particularly long work hours, shift-work or constant traveling. Similarly, to help build healthy habits for a family with picky children or while managing different dietary preferences or allergies within the household.
- To help with a specific plan for food allergies/intolerances. For instance, they were told by their naturopath or family doctor to eliminate certain foods and don’t know how to do so without feeling restricted
- To help with meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking for one, a couple or for a family with children
What is your approach? Do you follow or advocate for a certain diet or plan? Do you only help with weight loss?
My main, 7 -pilar approach can be found here. I have a general nutrition practice, and do not follow one way of eating, or being, and fundamentally believe that you need to truly find what works for you. I also fundamentally believe that seeing a nutritionist should be the opposite of following a “diet”, as I believe the point of working with a nutritionist is to get tailored advice, information and support. Everyone has their own set of concerns, goals, different genetics, time constraints, cooking capabilities, schedules, relationship to food, cultural background and food preference, and can not possibly all thrive on one way of eating.
Also, no I do not only help with weight loss, and I typically do not work with weight-loss as a primary goal. I believe there is much more to health than weight, and that weight is not a main measure of health. I focus on health habits and behaviours, for the benefit that they provide the body, regardless of size.
That is all for now! If you have ANY other questions regarding holistic nutrition, please let me know! I will continue to update this post with any other common questions that I get!