Medical Nutrition Therapy Vs. Health or Nutrition Coaching

This blog was originally published at N.E.W. Motivation Coaching in March 2019. NMC has closed and blogs are now posted here. Blog follows…

Where Do People Get Their Nutrition Information?

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they were confused about nutrition or had stopped paying attention because “everything changes all the time anyway” well… I’d be rich. And I’d still be right here writing this blog.

Every year the International Food Information Council Foundation publishes a Food and Health Survey. This stuff is fascinating. It gives health professionals a sort-of-current snap shot of consumer behaviors and beliefs around food and health.

In 2018, 80% of people surveyed agree that there is a lot of conflicting information about what food they should eat or avoid. 80%!! Okay, this is a problem. It’s just food. How have we made it so complicated??

The good news is over 50% of Americans are putting their trust in Registered Dietitians, Healthcare Professionals, and Health Coaches. Nice.

The bad news – and the confusion – may come about because 25% of people trust a friend or family member, about 28% trust bloggers, and about 30% trust mobile apps.

Here’s where it gets even more fun – 30% of Americans turn to their friends and family members or to their healthcare professional to get information about what food to eat and what food to avoid.

I don’t know your friends and family so maybe they have the know-how to give you good information but most likely, they are repeating things they have heard from other sources (which may be right or wrong). And did you know that medical doctors typically only get 25 hours of nutrition education and 20% of medical schools do not require even one course in nutrition! (Source here). Shocking.

Well, at least Livestock Veterinarian finally fell off that list. I’m grateful for that!

Let’s get into it.

What is the Difference Between Nutrition Coaching & Education?

Nutrition coaching and nutrition education is providing general information from credible health agencies (American Heart Association, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, etc.) without making specific recommendations for any individuals.

There are no laws and no oversight for these titles. It does not require state licensure. In fact, you can make yourself a business card and call yourself a nutritionist or nutrition coach right now. People using these titles may have no training or may have great training. Ask questions.

This is ideal for you if:

  • You do not have any chronic medical conditions
  • You do not wish to work on improving or managing any health conditions
  • You know how to manage your health conditions and are able to tailor any general information or coaching to your specific conditions

This is not a good fit for you if:

  • You aren’t sure how to eat for your health conditions
  • You want someone to tell you how or what to eat
  • You do not know how to adjust general information for your health conditions

Medical Nutrition Therapy

Medical Nutrition Therapy is nutrition counseling and providing specific individualized recommendations to address chronic and/or specific conditions and diagnoses. In many states, this activity is licensed to protect the public from harm. Check here so see if licensure if required in your state.

Registered/Licensed Dietitians are required by Florida law (where NMC is located) to work with their client’s medical providers when providing Medical Nutrition Therapy.

Let’s Talk State License Laws

These state laws are put in place to ensure that those making nutrition recommendations have adequate education, experience, and training to understand the complex interactions between food, medical conditions, and the body’s metabolic and physiological processes.

It’s just like making sure you use a licensed hair stylist to make sure someone doesn’t unintentionally wreck your hair or using a licensed electrician to make sure someone doesn’t unintentionally burn down your home. You can regrow hair and repair your home; but you’ve only got one body.

While unlicensed professionals may not do harm, the potential for harm is greater. We believe that most people have good intentions but they just don’t know what they don’t yet know. And many know just enough to talk a good game and be dangerous for your health.

Seek a licensed health professional.

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