Tag Archives: health coach

Picture of looking through a glass ball showing the landscape upside down with text Perception is Reality. How Does this Impact RDs?

Perception Is Reality

There have been a lot of opinions flying around after it became more widely known that HB1193 added an exemption to the Florida Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Law under the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act. See more about this exemption.

One thing I firmly believe is that the laws are designed to stop the honest people and the rule-followers. People have been providing nutrition advice without a license in Florida. This is illegal and it is not new.

RDs have been focused on “playing defense” as the nutrition license laws are systematically challenged state by state. Our associations have been working hard on this task with some success and some compromise. I do not want to downplay their efforts. They are working hard for what they believe is right. I respect that. More people should do the same.

My belief is that we should stop wasting resources, time, and money, on fighting attacks on the nutrition license laws. There are states without nutrition license laws and the sky has yet to fall. Let others onto the playing field. Competition is good for us all. It makes us be creative and grow. It fills the needs of the public – and they need help with nutrition and health.    

See this idea through.

Some people will provide excellent, well-researched, and appropriate nutrition advice and people will thrive and those providers will be rewarded with referrals and reputation-building.

Others will provide crap advice, trigger or glorify disordered eating, and make people sicker and those providers will not survive for long.

Yes, people may be harmed as this sorts itself out – but people have a right to make their own choices. And no law is going to prevent them from seeking out the latest BS MLM shakes or miracle pills anyway. If you believe, as an RD, it is your job to protect everyone from harmful nutrition advice – well, that will be tiring and frustrating and I wish you luck.

In the end, those who provide the best service and solve people’s nutrition problems will be the ones who thrive.

Yes, you absolutely need to be an RD to calculate a tube feeding.

No, you absolutely do not need to be an RD to coach a generally healthy person on nutrition.

In fact, RDs who calculate tube feeds are typically lousy coaches. But that’s okay. Good coaches probably suck at calculating tube feeds.

So… I propose to you that perception is reality and RDs need to focus on MARKETING what differentiates RDs from other health providers and coaches.

Picture of looking through a glass ball showing the landscape upside down with text Perception is Reality. How Does this Impact RDs?

I think that RDs have buried their heads in the sand about their (our) reputation. Sadly, I refer to myself as an RD very rarely offline because I have been listening to what people think in the wellness and fitness arenas.

I asked a kick-ass, supportive Facebook group that focuses on exercise with a CrossFit leaning about their perceptions of RDs. While far from being a methodologically sound study, it provides some information us RDs would be wise to pay attention to.

My post request: Would like to do an informal request for info: What is your opinion of Registered Dietitians? Do you think you need to see an RD to get valuable nutrition advice? Disclosure – I’m an RD fighting to change our organizations, so we work more with others… and am hoping to show my peers the truth about how we are perceived. I want the good, the bad, and the ugly!

In 8 hours, there were 76 comments and responses. I stopped counting at that point. Here is what those 8 hours reflect. There were 25 (33%) positive opinions, 16 (21%) neutral or no opinions, and 35 (46%) negative opinions.

There is no amount of legislation that is going to make 46% of people say, “I really need help with food and I think RDs suck but since it’s the law I’ll go to the RD who won’t help me instead of the nutrition coach who will help me.”

THIS is the problem. It is in how RDs are perceived not how nutrition advice is legislated. We need a marketing campaign, not another lobbyist.

Let’s look at some of the comments. RDs there are a lot of things we can learn from here.

Positive Comments

I think it sounds cool but also expensive. It would be great to sit down with someone and go over meal plans, goals, macros, etc. BUT there is so much info online, it’s hard to justify spending the money.

I honestly would totally use the hell out of the services of a registered dietitian, but I can’t afford it. I would love to see all insurance companies covering this service.

 I’m one who would work with someone. I was looking into it before all the lockdowns started. I know all the info is online, but I have no desire to figure it out. The amount of information can be overwhelming. I also like the idea of someone checking in on me. That helps me to keep at it.

 I think that RDs could make a HUGE impact within the fitness community if they marketed themselves right. I firmly believe that abs are made in the kitchen, and a lot of people fall victim to unhealthy dieting and/or eating habits. I hate seeing personal trainers with no formal nutritional training trying to play the role of an RD. Basically, I think there is a place for RDs in the fitness world, but it would take a lot of effort to get a strong foothold and get the public to truly recognize your value (because y’all are worth your weight in gold IMO).

We are working with one right now since my daughter is struggling with her IBS. We tried a low FODMAP diet on our own but struggled when trying to reintroduce foods. We needed advice about what and how to add foods back into her diet. This is a time when common sense and self-education weren’t enough and a dietician was definitely needed.

 I’ve been meeting with an RD for a bit over a year. She’s free to me through my employer which is awesome. She’s helped me transition from weight loss into eating for performance and weight maintenance. She’s not pushed any specific diet plans to me, just giving me advice like how to adjust my food intake before half marathons and longer training runs and what I needed to do nutritionally to avoid muscle cramps during runs. She’s done metabolism testing on me (again, free to me) to get a baseline of how much food I really need to be eating and found I was severely under eating.

I’ve used weight watchers, nutritionists and registered dietitian. RD worked more in my mindset, which will help me more in the long run.

I have been seeing an RD for a little over a year now at the recommendation of my doctor. She has helped me. She keeps me in check and I have been successful.

 Nutritional intake are the basic building blocks for these beautiful body machines. RDs are the best asset to help get the most from your efforts.

I had a great experience with a dietician in my health plan when I went in with really detailed questions and wanted recommendations about how I could increase protein as a vegetarian without going over my carb limit or eating too much fat. If I had just gone for a basic education appointment that was planned I would have felt like I already knew the information, but I took so many specific questions. The dietician gave me a lot of suggestions and some free hacks like use the information she gave to go to the local grocery store that offers a shopping trip with a dietician and some blogs that have super simple recipes that combined foods I already liked. I really wish that part of my yearly checkup included a referral back to the dietician.

 I have met one twice and due to her limitations in time she could give me (a state sponsored one) I was impressed with how much she gave me personalized advice. So overall I’m positive. I’m not sure I would want to pay for the service though without someone who I trust recommending them as I feel I have a lot of knowledge myself and if someone isn’t knowledgeable enough and try to sell me a one size fit all I would not feel like it’s worth it at all.

Having an RD has definitely helped me. Even though I am now post-bariatric, even before having surgery it definitely helped change my mental mindset to help me make better choices and allow me to educate myself better with certain foods.

I think RDs are invaluable. Having said that, it is very difficult where I live to find one that understands fitness nutrition. I’ve talked to several, but they seem focused on weight loss rather than fuel for fitness. It’s frustrating.

Depends on the dietitian. Mine is amazing and covered as preventative care (zero copay) by my insurance. He specializes in working with athletes, ed folks, and special diets. He is rated as one of the best in the city to boot. Just make sure they have credentials and a good reputation.

I saw one. She seemed really strange. Had my proteins stupid low (70 g). But she helped me realize I have a body that can’t handle a lot of fat! So once I kept my fat macro under 38 g, the weight has been flying off. I did up my proteins because I was in so much pain and really hungry. I wasn’t eating enough carbs! So that was upped and man I feel a lot better. I’m glad I was open minded enough to try what she had to say.

Neutral Comments

I’ve worked with 3 different dietitians: the first gave me a standard meal plan; the second gave me a macro plan; the third and current one actually started with some simple habits and exploring the deeply rooted issues I have with food. The third time was the charm.

I did WW and lost 30 pounds. But, got stuck. I am now working with a coach at EAT TO PERFORM. I love the program. That being said I don’t know if I would go to just any RD.

In this day where you can find any information online – the good, the bad, and the fake, RDs are where I turn for a way to sort through the bs. We get free access to them, sometimes you just have to wait awhile for an appointment. And I’m seriously contemplating becoming one.

 I have had great nutritionists and bad nutritionists… for my goals. Some nutritionists (most of them) didn’t hear my goals and famished me trying to make me reach fat percentages in a short span of time, which was extremely frustrating. I wanted to be healthier, not stop living entirely.

When I had gestational diabetes I was referred to a RD. I already tracked everything I ate and worked out daily. Our conversation was eat more veggies, less bread, drink diet soda instead on coke… this is prior to her knowing or asking about my current diet. I asked her if I could show her my food journal, she looked at it, looked at me and said, “keep doing what you’re doing.” End of session.

 I honestly can’t decide how I feel about RDs. I don’t know how or if an RD is different from a nutritionist and I don’t really understand what they do. Are they covered by insurance? Are they medical professionals? I sort of view them as being on the fringes of health and medicine with a mix of voodoo nonsense and science mixed in. I prefer science and evidence-based studies, to someone telling me what I *should* be doing. I want to know why I should be doing what you’re telling me to do and how to eat. Obviously, nutrition is important. I know I’m supposed to eat fruits, veggies and real food. So what would be the point in seeing a nutritionist/RD for them to tell me to eat more fruits, veggies and real food? I’m sorry if that sounds harsh – I really don’t mean it to be, but it’s the truth from my perspective. Maybe I just don’t know enough about them.

I think RDs are vital for those that are on tricky meditation, after surgery, cancer treatment, etc. However the vast majority of people just want to lose weight and keep it off. That is less about counting calories/macros and more about teaching habits and getting to the bottom the whys (why they do what they do with food and moving forward) to develop new strategies. This can be done with a certified nutrition coach (a good one). *Just like in any field you will find people that are good/exceptional at their job and others that give that profession a bad rap – do your research and go to someone with good referrals

I think for coaching after something like weight loss surgery, it’s important. I feel like helping someone in general, it depends on their age and where they went to school… If they still live by the food pyramid and pass that shit out, then it’s useless.

 I am split down the middle as to whether or not we need them for valuable advice because I do think RD’s have the knowledge and the background/education to help, but I also think we are capable of finding most answers without them. Of course, this changes with different conditions a person might have or inherit. I’m currently in school and before starting I was really considering a local dietetics program, but decided that I’d rather go into the educational side of nutrition and health for varying reasons including having a better grasp on helping people from a different angle when it comes to healthy lifestyles.

I think you need an RD for certain medical conditions. My diet coach has a Ph.D. In sports physiology and he’s been amazing and I’ve had way more success with him then I ever had with the 3 RD’s I sought out at first. The RD’s gave me a basic AF “meal” plan, lectured me, and EVERYTHING was super restrictive. I don’t do well that way. I was honestly not excited when my son had to see a metabolic nutritionist the first time due to my experiences with an RD (he has a metabolic disease, so it’s necessary and she’s actually amazing).

Most RD I meet are locked in a cycle of standard American diet advice. The majority are stuck because of the healthcare system they work in. It’s always interesting when you meet an RD that will not follow their own advice because they know it doesn’t work for them. I’ve also met a few that actually we’re able to design a eating plan that was helpful to their client’s needs without sticking to SAD. It’s such a mixed bag and most are full of good intentions. But no one wants the liability of suggesting or prescribing food that might not work.

Honestly, I don’t think the designation is worth all much in the fitness industry. There are so many programs and certifications now. This coming from someone who went to grad school for nutrition.

 I’m currently using Macrostax. Before I started that I had an appointment with a RD. I was kind of underwhelmed. I felt like I got the “my plate” handout and nothing I didn’t already know, and no idea what to change to actually start making progress where I’d been stalling. That said I’m sure RDs have different specialty areas and the one I met with probably just wasn’t the right fit for me and what I already knew (which is prob more than your average person). The other side to this coin is there are so many people out there spewing absolute BS and I would love to see RDs out there more. There’s an RD behind Macrostax and I have been very happy with that program

Negative Comments

 I don’t really trust the recommendations of registered dieticians. There have been so many past cases of medical doctors and dieticians recommending specific diets based on assumptions with inadequate research that later turned out to be false. I absolutely believe that it’s not done intentionally or maliciously, and y’all are following your training, but I don’t really trust your training, and I don’t want to pay for a service I don’t trust, you know?

I had to see a registered dietitian when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The sample meal plans were so bunk (like have milk or orange juice with each meal or do jello or 7 grapes – pure silliness for blood sugar control). It was super unhelpful and I found better info online (like carb to protein pairing and the awesomeness of fiber).

I’ve only seen one so I don’t have a ton of experience, but my frustration was I paid a good amount of money to get a boilerplate plan she gave everyone, nothing personalized. Even when I told her I don’t do well on carbs and wanted to balance more towards proteins and fats (I’m insulin resistant and me + carbs just don’t work well, but I also know I need a little before I work out). She gave no options and said that this was what her clients were successful on.

I have only had interactions with a registered dietitian for my high cholesterol and possible diabetes. Unfortunately, I was just told the foods to avoid.

 I’ve only met with a dietician once. And the diet was so strict, I couldn’t maintain it.

I don’t want to pay a ton of money to be ordered around.

 I was referred to an RD when I was Dx’d with gestational diabetes. I realize it is a specialized field BUT I absolutely couldn’t follow her dietary advice. I would have ended up on insulin. Too many net carbs. T2/GD/IR is different than T1 (unless you’re a T2 burnout) and they don’t seem to get that. I did my own thing and managed my numbers quite well through to 41wks. I’d probably use one if I could pick my own vs insurance assigned.

I have seen 3 different RDs and none of them listened. All three told me to eat things I am allergic to (yes they were told in advance what my allergies are) and I also need to follow a low oxalate diet due to my body not processing things correctly which causes all sorts of mineral deposits including kidney stones.
Well all three of them told me to eat more dark leafy greens and switch to soy or nut “dairies”. All things that will put me in the hospital. As soon as they start with that shit I’m done. I can’t trust another thing that comes out of their mouths. I know I’m a difficult case that’s why I wanted to find expert help but well that’s apparently not going to work. Obviously I have to just figure it out on my own.

I was referred to an RD after I was diagnosed with celiac disease years ago. I worked with her for a while and while she helped me figure out what foods were gluten free, she also helped me make my undereating worse. After a couple of months gluten free, I started gaining weight. She had me eating 1,000 calories a day, while I continued running 3 times, 2 strength training days, 2 dance classes, 2 days running 100 flights of stairs each week plus just every day walk everywhere NYC life. I was exhausted and afraid to eat more because I didn’t want to gain weight. It was a bad experience for both my mental and physical health, and that makes me not trust RDs and not willing to pay the money to try again.

I have a very negative opinion of RDs. When I was 5 years old, I was diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia. It’s genetic (thanks Dad) and rather than immediately going on meds I was told to try diet first. So off to the RD we went. She was nice enough, but the eating plan was boiler plate. I spent the next decade on a low-fat diet, terrified of meat and fats of all kinds. I developed eating disorders I’m only now starting to get past. It was one meeting and done. No follow up, no checking in, no tailoring anything. Nutrition is such a personal thing, especially as a child, and I felt like this was just a stamp in my file to say they tried it. I know this is just one experience and not all RDs will be like this. But the issues I was left with have made me never want to try again. I would love to have somebody able to work with me and help me get past some of my food issues but this isn’t the route I would take.

 I’ve only been to one, once and I’ve never been back. She printed out a plate image off the USDA website and gave generic advice. All for $225 an hour which was really 40 minutes. I had been hoping to get guidance on how to build a meal plan and was clear in that when I made the appt so waste of money for my experience. I know there are great ones out there I just don’t know how to find one

I had a couple appointments with an RD. I felt like she didn’t really listen to me. Her recommendations were basically what I was already doing and she was spoon feeding me chapters of The 10 Principles of Intuited Eating (one chapter per appt). The book from which she was directly providing the info was $14.99 on Amazon, which is significantly less than RD appointments. The book has some good points, but most of which I already had a good grasp. I expressed concern, but felt like she wasn’t really listening, so I didn’t go back.

When I went to see one after I went to my doctor asking for a hormone panel because I have PCOS I was referred to a dietitian instead. I am a vegan and I eat very clean yet I am 230 lbs and I log my food daily and I’m still not losing weight. When I met with one, she told me I was unhealthy and told me I needed to eat meat and dairy products even though I am getting all the vitamins and protein I need. She then told me she had no idea why I wasn’t losing weight after looking at over 3 months of food logs and gave up on me. After one meeting. I never went back.

Unfortunately, I think that the idea forced upon us that from a legal standpoint, only doctors and nutritionists, or registered dietitians, can give nutrition advice, breeds the idea they are infallible. I have seen them push artificial sugars, care more for calories than vegetables and also have no idea (or maybe just not interest) in working with and for people who are athletes.

I have seen one several times for myself and my child, but they never go past the basics everyone knows. They have never asked our goals or tried to tailor instruction. I had one just show the My Fitness Pal app.

For me personally, I’m in a different situation than most people. I have my PhD in biochemistry and cell biology and have studied metabolism for years. So I know what my body needs to thrive. My problem has never been what to eat, or even how much to eat, it’s to follow it. That is on me. No one can force me to do that. I do think RDs are good for people that are not knowledgeable in what to do or how to eat. And I do think it gives a level of accountability to people when they first start a healthy eating lifestyle. But the biggest thing is people need to find a good one that will not just give a cookie cutter diet plan. The plans need to be tailored to each person, their needs, and their preferences, which from what I have heard from friends, never happens.

Every RD I have spoken to has looked at my list of food allergies and given up. “Good luck” is the only response I’ve received, which felt discouraging and dismissive each of the 3 times I saw someone. I know my allergies make things challenging, that’s why I was seeing someone who was knowledgeable, or so I thought.

I’ve seen a couple RDs and they both put me on plans that were too low calorie for me that left me constantly hungry and pushed shitty processed foods at me. I’ve steered clear of them ever since.

My totally honest opinion-I am an RN and have gotten better advice from non-RDs. RD training is antiquated, many push the same ADA, AHA diets that are showing to not work (I.e. low fat). I saw an RD when I was pregnant for gestational diabetes. It was the worst thing I could have done and in hindsight, knowing what I know now, I would not do it again. I was shamed and told I wasn’t eating enough carbs and was hurting my baby. I followed their recommendations to a T-kept a daily food journal with carbs. I gained 40 lbs and my blood sugar was worse and ended up on meds. The best person I saw was trained in functional nutrition. He was going to sit for RD boards, but he customized and worked with me as individual and didn’t blame me when things didn’t work. We just changed courses and tried something until it worked.

 I went to see a RD once and was told that my food is fine and balanced and that was pretty much it even though I asked about eating for fat loss I was told maybe my body likes this weight and was sent on my way. I never went back.

 Rd only know what they are taught, most of it is false info bought and paid for.

I’ve been to 4 RDs. NOT ONE could tell me about PCOS, high testosterone or Metformin. Every single one said, “I don’t believe in Metformin for anything except diabetes.”

 I’ve been to 2. One wanted me to eat real food, which I already did but wouldn’t give me any guidance in amounts. The second one lowered me to 1100-1200 calories a day, only green veggies, minimal carbs. I was already working out 6 days a week, she told me to add an extra 150 mins cardio a week on top of 6 hours I was already in the gym. I did see results and then stalled to which she lowered my calories again and suggested fasting. I was exhausted and starving ALL the time. I loved her don’t get me wrong but not sure 1200 calories is sustainable long term.

 I have had terrible experiences with RDs. In general, it’s that even five years ago I was getting the advice to eat a bagel with no butter or cream cheese for breakfast (for example) and do like 60-70 percent carbs, 20 percent protein and as little fat as possible. My fitness coaches have me on a 40/30/30 plan which is much easier to follow and seems to work. I am thrilled with the idea that RDs are out there who are open to change but just have not personally met one who is.

Nope. I do not agree with the pyramid with cereal and grain at the bottom.

I honestly have never used a RD, but I have had several friends who had. There was nothing positive said. They said they never really learned anything. They were just told to cut calories very low and received lectures. Very restrictive type eating and told certain foods were 100% off limits. Never explained proper combinations ie protein/carb/fat, just calorie intake.

When my husband was in end stage renal failure and starting hemodialysis we had a RD stop by the hospital room and go over his diet and tell him all the things he couldn’t eat or had to restrict, hand us a bunch of papers for detail and ask us if we had any questions. That lasted 10-15 mins.

I’ve been to two RD’s. One pushed a strict vegan lifestyle. She had great ideas for whole food subs for meat, but I had/have no desire to be vegan and to fit her plan it was all or nothing. The other preached that only the quantity of calories mattered, not the quality. With both I could not get the scale to move and I felt like garbage more often than not. We worked with an RD when I was caregiving for my mother in law as well. She mostly gave us “eat this, not that” pamphlets and minimally answered questions. I was very disappointed with all of them and honestly haven’t taken most seriously since.

Hubs saw a RD for diabetic nutrition and the advice was not good. Eat whatever and take metformin.

 I’ve had 5 try to help me lose weight. 3 flat-out quit on me because my body doesn’t lose weight easily/at all and they thought I was cheating on the plans we had set up. 2 I had to stop seeing because after 6 months of only losing 7 pounds and then the scale going up again, my mental stability couldn’t handle it anymore.

I saw one for a while and she did nothing for me. I am now on a program with a great “coach” who has done more for me than anything else I’ve ever tried.

I saw one that was a total waste of my time and money! I have a severe intolerance to salicylates… and week after week I was lectured that I wasn’t eating enough green vegetables and I needed to eat more fruit and to cut out sugar! It was either dump her sorry ass or get really really sick…. so her ass got dumped!

 I got sick many years ago with a rare disease (Porphyria). I lost a lot of weight due to not being able to eat, spent two months in the hospital, had to relearn how to walk, etc.. After the hospital, I started gaining weight. 50 pounds one month, then another 20, then another 20; I went from 135 to 215 in a very short time. My doctor sent me to a dietitian who had me keep food diaries. Then she told me I was lying, that I couldn’t gain weight with what I was eating! Turns out that my medications had a lot to do with my weight gain. I will never forget her calling me a liar.

What I Learned from the 10 Holiday Survival Tips Workshop

Do you wish there was a way to have all of your favorite foods of the holiday season. Well, sit down and brace yourself – it IS possible!

Welcome Vanessa, NMC’s nutrition student and mentee, who  shares below what she learned from attending the live event showcasing the 10 Holiday Survival Tips from the “Love Yourself Healthy through the Holidays” Plan.

The holidays are fast approaching and I’ve already been daydreaming about the rich, indulgent foods that only are made at this time of year. They are calling my name! How do I choose what to eat? Do I go all in with my favorites, like green bean casserole or pumpkin pie, at every party… or do I not indulge in my favorite foods because I know how many more parties I will have to go to?

After seeing Coach Alexia talk about her 10 holiday tips to enjoy a guilt-free holiday, I walked away with three new ideas for how to enjoy everything about the holidays this year.

First, it is important to take the time to catch up with my family and friends. This is the only time of year that I get to see my aunt and uncle that live out west. I always say that I will plan a trip and I never do. If I take this time to catch up with them then I take the focus off the food and can reconnect with my family. As a bonus, while I’m chatting away, my mouth is too busy to chew!

Second, keeping my hands full will help keep me from eating too much. This year at the holiday party, I’m going to keep a drink in one hand and my phone in the other hand to have ready for taking pictures. With both hands full there is no space for me to hold a plate of snacks and mindlessly eat during the party.

Third, and most importantly, I gained new confidence for going into the holidays. With these 10 new strategies, I know can get through the season worry free (maybe even a little lighter!). The holidays are a time of family, friends, laughter and tons of food and this year I can now make my plan so I can eat, drink and be merry!

Happy Holidays from Vanessa!

Check out the entire Love Yourself Healthy through the Holidays Plan so you can make a plan and not be so uncomfortable after your holiday meals that you have to reach under the table and try to unbutton your pants while hoping no one notices!


5 Reasons to Go On a Grocery Store Tour

Do you dread going to the grocery store? Are you overwhelmed and confused with all the food choices you have? Do you wish you had a nutritionist by your side to help you to fill your up cart healthfully?

Grocery shopping should be a fun and easy task to check off your to-do list. And it can be when you become a savvy shopper and know how to make better, healthier choices!

Let’s review the 5 reasons you should join a grocery store tour!


#1: Don’t get tricked by the food packaging

Did you know that a food manufacturer can label food as having ZERO TRANS FAT even if there IS trans fat in the food? It’s true!

Just because a package claims to be fat-free or sugar-free doesn’t mean that the claim is true or that the food is healthy for you. This applies even if the food is in a green package misleading-food-packagingwith the word “Natural” in big type on the front of the package and there are pictures of farms or hearts on it.

On a grocery tour, you can grab your go-to foods and take a good look at the packaging. Learning to understand and use the nutrition label, ingredients listings, and health claims on packaging will help you make informed food choices.

Food producers can make health claims about certain nutrients (such as fiber, fats, and sodium) and while these claims must be based on scientific studies and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, that doesn’t mean the food is a good choice overall. That “heart-health approved” food may be low in sodium to earn that claim… but it still may be high in sugar and not so heart-healthy after all.

A grocery tour can show you how to dig deeper into the packaging and compare products with a nutritionist at your side. You will leave confident that you can choose the healthiest foods for you and your family

#2. Learn about food processing, food marketing, and how food impacts your health and weight

How do they make chickens lay eggs with omega-3 fats in them?

How in the world do they add fiber to yogurt?

What is the difference between Sugar In the Raw, Table Sugar, Stevia, and Splenda – and which one is the best choice for your health concerns and preferences?

How do they make FairLife Milk have more 50% more protein and 50% less sugar than traditional milk?

almonds-and-milkWhat actually happens if antibiotics end up in dairy milk when it’s being transported?

And… how many almonds are really in that glass of almond milk you drink?

A dietitian is your go-to for this kind of information. You will learn not only about how food impacts your health, but how it is produced, changed, fortified, stripped, shipped, and marketed with the hopes of grabbing your food dollars.

#3. Navigate the grocery store like a pro

When you first enter your grocery store you are greeted by all the bargain bins and the smell of freshly baked bread, or maybe fried chicken.

Deals! Deliciousness! Let us in!!

Grocery stores are doing this on purpose with the hopes that you will make more impulse buys while in the store. Those bargain bins at the door entice you to not miss a good deal – even if it isn’t something on your list.

Those delicious smells are there to turn on your appetite.

Have you noticed the music yet? Listen next time you go… it’s there to make the experience more relaxing in hopes you will slow down and stay longer.

The store’s layout is also designed to increase your impulse purchases.

  • cerealThe aisles are long and sometimes hard to maneuver. Ever run your cart into a bin in the aisle with a sale item?
  • The end caps are also a main driver for impulse shopping as they are prime real estate and food manufacturers pay a hefty fee to have their items placed there.
  • Even the real estate on the shelves is “for sale” to food manufacturers. Why do you think the brightly colored sugary children’s cereals are at their eye level?
  • How much space a product gets on the shelves? You guessed it. Paid for. Notice a pattern yet?
  • Products are displayed beautifully, shelves are fully stocked, and there are big, bold numbers on those bargain priced sales signs at the top saying “buy me!” Sometimes these items are not a bargain, so go for it! But sometimes they are just new or seasonal items.

You may have heard that you should shop the perimeter and outside areas of the grocery store. Well, sure but you may be missing out.

Healthy foods are hidden in some inside aisles if you know where to look and how to read the packaging. Grocery stores group like items together to help make your buying decision easier. So check out the aisles! Frozen, canned, boxed, or dried – look for fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, herbs, spices, shelf stable meats, dairy foods, and those wonderful bulk bins – they are all waiting for you to find them in the middle of the store.

#4. Make better-for-you food decisions with a nutritionist

Aisle by aisle, a licensed nutritionist will help you make healthier food choices by showing you how to read labels, introducing new ingredients, answering your food and nutrition questions, and providing grocery shopping and meal planning tips and tricks.

grocery-tour-exampleIf you have been wondering about that new cold brew coffee or the pre-made overnight oats or egg cups, a grocery tour is a great chance to figure out if those products are worth a try.

Or if you know that there is too much salt in the soup that has been your go-to for lunches, you can compare different brands and types of soups with a nutritionist pointing out how to choose the best option for your health concerns – or budget!

You will walk away empowered to choose the best brands and foods to use nutrition to reach your health goals.

#5. It’s fun!

Grocery tours give you a chance to get together with a few friends – or make new friends – in a hands-on practical way. The goal is to raise your awareness of healthful food choices and teach you how to eat more healthfully.

Grocery-Tour-Got-QuestionsGrocery tours are interactive – each one is different! Your questions guide what the tour covers so you can be sure to get what you need from the tour.

Who knows? You may even discover new foods and try something that you have never had before!

Ready To Go?

If you’re convinced that you need to hop on board for a grocery store tour then come out and join N.E.W. Motivation Coaching!

Our tours are focused on making the healthy choice the easy choice – while still helping you put delicious food on your table. One of our coaches will lead the tour and be available to answer any questions as well as give you tips and suggestions – and some recipes!

A grocery store tour can be one of the best learning experiences you can have to understand and improve your nutrition to reach your goals and live a healthy lifestyle.

Check our Calendar of Events or follow our FaceBook page for information or go to Eventbrite to register for our next tour. Next up is Heart Healthy Proteins on October 23 at 9:00 and 10:30 or on October 27 at 9:00 at the Nocatee Town Center Publix.

This is a guest blog by Vanessa Tarbell, University of North Florida Undergraduate Nutrition Student. 


Building a Healthy Diet with Smart Shopping.  nutrition.gov.  website https://www.nutrition.gov/subject/shopping-cooking-meal-planning/food-shopping-and-meal-planning/build-healthy-diet-smart-shopping.  Accessed September 28, 2018

Label Claims for Conventional Foods and Dietary Supplements.  U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  website https://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/ucm111447.htm.  Accessed September 29, 2018

Choose MyPlate.gov.  United Stated Department of Agriculture.  website https://www.choosemyplate.gov.  Accessed September 28,

New ebook and special for October

Many people know that following a gluten-free diet means not eating wheat bread and pasta but they have very little help figuring out what they can eat or where else gluten is hiding in their food, medicines, and other products. Well, I can help with that! I just published an ebook: Celiac Disease: Real-Life Nutrition Strategies to Improve Symptoms and Heal Your Gut. This ebook gives and easy-to-understand explanation of what really happens in your body if you have celiac disease, provides guidelines and tips to ensure food choices are truly gluten-free, and goes one step further to list foods to help avoid common nutritional deficiencies.

COVER-celiac-diseaseAround 95% of people with celiac disease have not even been diagnosed and are suffering with symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, and even fatigue and joint pain. This ebook gives them real-life solutions for how to change their food choices so they don’t have to live with these uncomfortable symptoms, allow their body to repair damage from gluten, and still enjoy delicious food.

If you are not the reading type (well first, thanks for reading this blog), I’ve also got a special going on for October and am offering 50% off the “Go Gluten Free” coaching package which includes 1 initial and 2 follow up sessions, a personal grocery excursion to check out food packages where you make your food decisions (if local) OR the Label Detective online course (in development, course will be delivered by coach if not yet complete), and a FREE copy of the ebook. You must be a current email subscriber & limit of one deal per person. More details here.

This ebook, priced at $4.99, is available at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/746492 or at your favorite book retailer. Is it chock-full of information including:

  • The basics of a gluten-free diet
  • Whole foods and alternative grains to include
  • Which foods and ingredients to avoid
  • How to best use gluten-free products (and when to avoid them!)
  • How to fit alcohol into a gluten-free diet
  • How to read food packaging and labels for gluten-containing ingredients
  • How to plan meals or approach eating out while remaining gluten-free
  • How to choose foods to address the most common nutrition deficiencies from a gluten-free diet
  • A list of online resources
  • Two case studies to give you examples of how two people with celiac disease approached their food and nutrition choices to better manage their symptoms

GF-delishI wrote this initially in 2013 (it has been updated for this ebook!) as a continuing education course for health professionals. In addition to the information that remains in the book, there was also a section on how to implement the Nutrition Care Process and tips for health professionals working with patients who have celiac disease. I said back then, four years ago, that I really should make this consumer-friendly and publish it that way too. And time passed. So… four years later… here it is! I am BEYOND EXCITED for this day to finally come. Now that I know how to epublish, expect more goodies coming from me as well!

This information will be useful for anyone with celiac disease as well as those who suspect they may have a gluten/wheat allergy or intolerance – so please pass this information along!

Don’t miss out on the NEW monthly email newsletter that will have information on nutrition, health, and wellness topics as well as freebies, offers, and discounts; a schedule of upcoming workshops and classes, recent blog posts, as well as any new ebooks or online courses. (Spoiler alert – discount for ebook will be in the October newsletter!) Sign up here!

And remember…


Vitruvian Man Logo

You may have noticed that N.E.W. Motivation Coaching has an updated logo. We kept the Vitruvian man – because reasons below –  but made the graphic simpler and more visually friendly.


Why Choose this Image?

You may know that the Vitruvian Man is a sketch done by Leonardo Da Vinci which represents the “perfect proportions” for man. The circle and square which surround the Vitruvian Man provide the touch-points for the length of the arms and legs as they move from one position to another.

It’s an art and a science: A multi-faceted approach. Leonardo’s new twist – to place the circle and square on top of each other – combine science and art. This is similar to our approach.

(1) We are firmly grounded in science, research, and evidence-based practice. We know the research and we keep up with new findings. We understand that the plural of anecdote is not data… yet we realize there are always outliers in research studies who may not fit the data trends. In other words, even if the research does NOT support something for a group on the whole, we are open to pursuing alternative paths to health as long as it does not bring you any harm!

(2) Making lifestyle changes that “stick” for the long-term is an art. We won’t throw information at you and tell you to make it work. Information is everywhere and if all it took was having legit info, then everyone would be exactly where they wished they were with health and weight. We do not believe our role is to tell you what you should do, what you should want for your health (or weight), or how to go about it. We instead focus on discovering your uniqueness (including your personal and environmental strengths and challenges) and then tweak, adjust, and experiment to create individualized goals to baby-step you to success. We use coaching and behavior change techniques to challenge you to think in new ways, but you will always make your own decisions.

Many body types can fit. Weight does not determine one’s overall health and yet many continue to focus on this one narrow view to judge their own health and the health of others. We like that a body with little fat and a body with lots of fat can both fit into the circle and square. The image is not body-shaming and embraces that all sizes belong.

What N.E.W. Stands For

Nutrition. The founder is a Licensed Nutritionist which means we can provide you with nutrition coaching and medical nutrition therapy. (More information on the differences here.)

Exercise. As an American Council on Exercise Certified Health Coach, we can get you started with activity and exercise safely.

Wellness. Health is more than food, exercise, and body weight. We work with you on finding health-life balance, improving sleep habits, managing stress, and figuring out all your Plan B’s for when life and situations throw you off course.

If you want more details, check out N.E.W. Motivation Coaching for upcoming workshops, group challenge classes, and individual coaching/counseling.

What do you think of the new logo and what it represents?

Cheese and Strangulation by Bedsheets

I say when your press release gets no press, make your own! We will get to the cheese; but first:


Dieting is Making You Bigger

Say Hello to Jacksonville’s Only Health at Every Size® Nutritionist

Jacksonville, Florida – July 2017 – There is a movement growing among health professionals called Health at Every Size® which, among other things, rejects the use of weight as an indicator of health and believes that weight is largely unchangeable by individuals. There is only one registered HAES® practitioner in the Jacksonville area. Search the listings here.

Regardless of what the celebrities and infomercials who promote a Diet Culture say, the fact is that the majority of dieters only temporarily lose weight. In the long-term, they regain the lost weight plus more. Many of them will then go back on a diet – and this weight cycling is detrimental to health. Following restrictive diets and intense work-out plans provides temporary weight loss results at the expense of mental health and self-esteem with the result often being an out-of-whack metabolism and eating binges. Social relationships can also suffer as food rules, good food/bad food beliefs, and guilt or shame about food choices become more consuming.

Many people think if someone is overweight, they are not healthy. The truth is that not everyone who has a large body is sick/unhealthy – and not everyone who has a small body is well/healthy. One cannot make judgements about someone’s health based on their body size. Many larger bodied people are healthy in terms of lab values, freedom from chronic conditions, and ability to exercise and live independently. All the diseases and conditions that obesity supposedly causes are nothing more than associations and correlations – things that happen together – not necessarily one thing causing the other.

For some fun correlations to illustrate this point, see Spurious Correlations and you can “prove” that eating cheese leads to death by strangulation by bedsheets… or that eating margarine leads to happier marriages (or at least less divorce filings)…


You see my point?

(And if you don’t, I’ve got a heckuva deal on some swampland I can sell you down here in Florida… hit me up!)

As a HAES® practitioner, registered dietitian, and certified health coach, I can offer a welcome change of pace for people who choose to reject the diet culture and prefer to work on improving health through mindful eating, enjoyable exercise, self-acceptance, and realistic, flexible lifestyle habits.

Get more information or see our upcoming events.

What Is this No-Diet / Anti-Diet Thing Anyway?

Now that you are exploring the idea that diets don’t work, are you wondering what that leaves you with if you still want to improve your health and lose weight? It is a scary place to be. Many dieters have been dieting for a very long time and not having the structure and those good/bad thoughts about food and eating habits can result in feeling very lost and uncertain. We certainly are not comfortable trusting our bodies since we are not happy with how our bodies look. We certainly cannot trust our bodies because our bodies are always hungry (um, yeah, because we are starving our bodies on diets!).

Life with no diet plan? No food rules? How will we know what to eat? How will we keep from eating way too much food or binge-eating? We will dive in to the deep end with food and just get bigger!

So many times when I start working with a new client, I hear a very familiar story. It goes something like this:

What I ate yesterday? Oh, well, that was a bad day [laughs] but okay. I got up and I had a cup of coffee with a splash unsweetened coconut milk and honey – I know sugar is bad but honey is natural – and I ate 1 packet of instant oatmeal made with water. I was hungry mid-morning but I was good and didn’t eat until lunch time! For lunch, I had a salad and a diet soda. What was on the salad? Oh, it was just lettuce and tomatoes with one of those tuna packs. No, no dressing or croutons – I can’t eat those! By 4:00 I was so hungry but I drank a lot of water to fill up my stomach and I managed to make it home without eating! For dinner, we had grilled chicken and I had a few broccoli florets. My husband had some rice but I know carbs make me fat so I skipped that. To drink, I had a couple glasses of red wine – I’ve heard that’s good for my heart, right? I was so good yesterday and was so proud of myself but then, I was so bad. I just could not stop eating after dinner. I know I’m not supposed to eat after 6pm… are you sure you want to hear this? Okay, well, first I had some crackers with cheese… and then I had a lo-calorie popsicle… and then I had a big bowl of chopped pineapple… and I was still hungry and well, I knew I blew it at that point and was being bad so I went ahead and ate one of those big microwave bags of popcorn and before bed I had some ice cream! So far today though, I’m being good again and eating right.

It is a way-too-familiar story because it is the pattern of most of the people I talk to who are trying to diet. If you read that again and look for food rules and good/bad language, it will jump out at you. If you total up those calories (sorry, dietitian-brain took over) – or think about how much food was eaten before the after-dinner snacking began  – you know it is not enough to fuel a body! Of course you are hungry. You are starving your body. Yes, I know it’s on purpose because you want to lose weight but it backfires every single time, doesn’t it?

And no, it’s not because you aren’t good enough; aren’t strong enough; didn’t try hard enough. It’s because: physiology. Undereat… undereat…. Ignore hunger… undereat… binge! See you again tomorrow diet!

But without a diet plan, we now are staring into a void. Without the rules, what is left?


There is a new buzzword out there: anti-diet (or reverse dieting). It has been around for a while but maybe you just haven’t seen it before. Other names you may have heard are no-diet, non-diet, mindful eating, intuitive eating, and some others. It is about listening to your body – and yes, you can trust your body – once it has learned it can trust you not to starve it again… although that may take a little time. Your body has learned that starvation is always coming if you are a repeat dieter. But with time, you can get past that point and get back in sync with your body.

What does a non-diet approach look like? It may be different for different people but here are some ideas – and I’m sure you could add your own ideas to this list once you get the hang of it:

  • Eating foods you like in amounts you desire, which means
    • Eating when you are hungry instead of ignoring your body when it is crying out for fuel and energy
    • Stop eating when you are satisfied from a meal. Yes, this takes practice and it is hard work; but doesn’t that make more sense than eating a set number of calories or points or only green foods?
  • Consider what you want for your health and choose foods that move you in that direction
    • For example, if you are working on lowering cholesterol then eat more foods with fiber and unsaturated fats
  • Focus on quality nutrition by swapping out nutrition-poor foods for more nutrition-rich foods
  • Allow yourself to eat what you really crave and enjoy – have those treats and other foods you love and told yourself you would never eat again
  • Following that, only eat foods that you enjoy. I do have one pretty big food rule that I recommend we all follow: Never eat something you don’t like. Seems elementary but a lot of people choke down “healthy” foods and drinks that they hate
  • Find activity that you truly enjoy regardless of the intensity or “calorie burn” and then do it consistently (and joyfully!)

Answer a question for me: Are these positive guidelines or negative ones?

The diet industry has made people hate themselves into desiring to change by following rigid and ridiculous rules. This approach is all about loving ourselves into change with flexible and enjoyable guidelines!

Think about it. The diet culture banks on you hating your body. You hate your body and so you diet and exercise because your body is wrong, it can’t be trusted, it’s signals must be ignored, and you are not worthy. You must eat a certain way (diet), obsess about food, power through the physical and emotional pain of hunger, and don’t forget to exercise to as a penance for eating. And maybe one day, after you suffer the consequences of “getting yourself back” after having “let yourself go,” you finally can be deserving of love and worthy and valuable.

The no-diet approach is based on loving yourself and realizing that your body is worthy and beautiful, you can trust it and listen to its signals, and if it never changes, you are enough, you are valuable, and you are worthy. You eat because food is nourishing – and delicious – and you get to exercise and move your body in ways that feel good. These things are rewards, not punishments!

And listen, you can still seek to improve your health. There is nothing wrong with that. Do you think those who strive to be millionaires shrug their shoulders and stop trying because the majority of people don’t make it? Heck no. If that were the case, then millionaires would only be born, not self-made. Self-made millionaires seek to improve on their weaknesses and put in the hard work. They read, meditate, get up earlier, work harder, and improve themselves. Do you think they hate themselves until they make their first million? Heck no! (So why do you hate your body until you lose weight?). They believe in themselves, they love themselves, and they know they are worthy of achieving their dreams.

Breaking the diet mindset is not easy work.

A funny thing happens with weight when many people stop dieting… not right away; but over time, people’s weights settle at the weight that is best for their bodies. You may lose weight if your body has a lot of weight on it because you are treating yourself poorly with food and not being active and then you start treating yourself better by eating nutrition-rich food and getting more active; but weight is not the focus. You may gain weight if you’ve been dieting forever and now you break all your “diet rules;” but the research doesn’t indicate that weight is gained with a non-diet approach and weight is not the focus. If you lose weight, great! If you don’t lose weight, great! If your weight doesn’t change, great! Once you can embrace that, you will have flipped off diet culture and be on your way to living a happier, healthier life!

Do you want to learn more? Please join our upcoming Redefining Healthy Book Club: Readings to Break the Diet Cycle and Live the Good Life. We will meet virtually and in-person if you are in the Ponte Vedra, Jacksonville, St. Augustine area of Florida.

Yours in Good Health,

-Alexia Lewis RD

This article is Part 4 of 4 in “Health versus Weight as a Focus for Wellness” which will be published during the month of June 2017.

Part 1: The Continuum of Approaches to Health: Thoughts from a Curvy & Healthy Dietitian Health Coach

Part 2: Who is the Best Health Professional to Help with Creating New Lifestyle Habits?

Part 3: If Diets Don’t Work, How Can a Health Coach Help Me?

References & Resources

T.L.Tylka, R.A. Annunziato, D. Burgard, et al, “The weight-inclusive versus weight-normative approach to health: Evaluating the evidence for prioritizing well-being over weight loss,” Journal of Obesity, vol 2014, article ID 983495, 2014. View at: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jobe/2014/983495/.

A. Bombak, “Obesity, Health at Every Size, and Public Health Policy,” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 104, no.2, pp. e60-e67, 2014. View at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3935663/

If Diets Don’t Work, How Can a Health Coach Help Me?

Have you heard that diets don’t work?

Actually, all diets work. Any way you can dream up to cut calories will usually result in weight loss (assuming no underlying health conditions, sleep and stress are in check, you have a healthy gut microbiome, have not screwed up your metabolism from a history of chronic dieting, etc. etc. etc.). So go for it – paleo, atkins, intermittent fasting, no white foods, whatever – they all work until you stop following them.

Ah, there’s the catch. Who could follow any of them for a lifetime? So, diets only work short term. Health is not a short term proposition. Diets don’t work.

The ugly truth is that an overwhelming majority of dieters regain the lost weight (plus more!). Many others have knocked their metabolism and hormones out of whack (making it easier to gain weight) and may have jeopardized their health physically and emotionally by going on a diet. What’s worse is that weight cycling (the on/off diet lose-and-regain weight cycle) is not at all good for your health.

It’s all doom and gloom for dieting when you look past the initial honeymoon phase when your weight is dropping. Need to have that gall bladder taken out after a low-fat diet? Obsessing about food all the time after calorie counting? Feeling like a failure, unworthy, unlovable after losing and regaining weight again? These are the promises diets should make. #truthinadvertising. You must be crazy if you want to go on a diet. Who wants results like that?


Well, a lot of people do. We are all bombarded by diet culture and fitspo and it is natural to want to lose weight, to model what you see, to want to fit in with current societal norms. We live in a shake-pushing weight-shaming world and large-bodied people face discrimination every day. Our beliefs about dieting and weight are so very skewed from media outlets and celebrities and fitness bloggers.  Many blame themselves for not being able to lose weight on a diet (wrong answer) instead of blaming the multi-million dollar industry that is banking on the fact that you will blame yourself instead of the diet plan and spend your money in the diet industry again and again and again.

But, check it. If the majority of diets fail, then at least some dieters are successful, right? I hear the optimist in you. I get it. That next diet, well, it’s so alluring and promising and well, maybe you are in that Miracle Minority who can diet and keep weight off for life! Maybe.  Maybe not.  I’m not a fortune teller. Even though I know the research about diet outcomes, it is not my job to force that on you. So, go ahead if you want to try just one (or three or five) more diets. I’ll still be here when you are ready to try out something different.

How Can I Help You?

If you want to work on your health and wellness, then I want to work with you. This is where the education part of my job is. Let’s talk about why you believe that the next diet is “the one” and let’s work through how you are thinking about dieting – the process and results and struggles – and see where you end up. It is better to for you to explore your options and for me to give you a safe place to unload and investigate some new ideas.

My hope is that you will move towards the anti-diet/non-diet approach. In fact, many people I work do relax their food rules and find a happy place with food and exercise. If you partner with me then you get a coach to educate, explore, discuss, trouble-shoot, brainstorm, encourage, motivate, and challenge you. You get someone on your side working right there next to you until we find what works for you to reach your health goals.

When you are ready to break the diet cycle and focus on your health, I will still be here.

Yours in Good Health,

-Alexia Lewis RD

This article is Part 1 of 4 in “Health versus Weight as a Focus for Wellness” which will be published during the month of June 2017.

Part 1: The Continuum of Approaches to Health: Thoughts from a Curvy & Healthy Dietitian Health Coach

Part 2: Who Is The Best Health Professional to Help with Creating New Lifestyle Habits?

Part 4: What Is This No-Diet / Anti-Diet Thing Anyway?


T.L.Tylka, R.A. Annunziato, D. Burgard, et al, “The weight-inclusive versus weight-normative approach to health: Evaluating the evidence for prioritizing well-being over weight loss,” Journal of Obesity, vol 2014, article ID 983495, 2014. View at: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jobe/2014/983495/.

A. Bombak, “Obesity, Health at Every Size, and Public Health Policy,” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 104, no.2, pp. e60-e67, 2014. View at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3935663/

P. Sumithran and J. Proietto, “The defence of body weight: A physiological basis for weigh regain after loss,” Clinical Science, vol. 124, no. 4, pp. 231-241, 2013. View at: http://www.clinsci.org/content/124/4/231.

S. Wolport, “Dieting does not work, UCLA researchers report,” UCLA Newsroom, 2007. View at: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/Dieting-Does-Not-Work-UCLA-Researchers-7832 or the study that was the basis for the article here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17469900.

R.R. Wing and S. Phelan, “Long-term weight loss maintenance,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 82, no. 1, pp. 222S-225S, 2005. View at: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/222S.short.

R. Chastain, “Do 95% of dieters really fail?” Dances with Fat, 2011. View at: https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/do-95-of-dieters-really-fail/ (a nice summation with links to more information).

Who Is the Best Health Professional to Help with Creating New Lifestyle Habits?

With so many options for a finding a health professional to help you move towards your health goals, how do you know how to choose? Let me be clear that your medical doctor is your first partner but you only get so much in-person time there! Let your doctor help guide your decisions about what to work on; then find a health professional to find the best strategies to get it done!

First, figure out how you want to approach your goals – do you want to focus on nutrition, on activity, or on a combination of many things: sleep, stress, time management, consistency, overcoming your typical challenges? This will guide you to the best person to help you. Second – and so important – is to find someone who makes you feel comfortable. Finally, make sure they have relevant education and hands-on experience. You want to make sure it is safe before you put your trust and health in someone’s hands!


Before jumping in to the many types of health professionals you can choose from, let me start with some key differences.

Nutrition Education / Nutrition Recommendations / Medical Nutrition Therapy.

Anyone, even you, can provide nutrition education as long as you are not paid. You can look up credible guidelines (American Heart Association USDA’s Choose My Plate,  etc.) and share the information one-on-one or in a group as “nutrition education” in general terms. Now, if you decide to charge people for the education, you should probably check out the laws in your state because that changes things. In the 46 states in the U.S.A. that have license laws for nutrition , only certain professionals can (legally) make nutrition recommendations or practice Medical Nutrition Therapy. A nutrition recommendation would be giving you a meal plan or recommending a specific food change/supplement. To illustrate the difference, giving education is saying, “What we know about X is Y;” making a recommendation is saying, “If you are concerned about X, you should do Y.”  Medical Nutrition Therapy / MNT is giving recommendations about a dietary/nutrition approach for any health condition from a gluten sensitivity to heart disease or cancer. This does not involve diagnosing health conditions but it does include dietary “treatment” for health conditions.

Exercise Education / Exercise Foundation / Exercise Training.

Exercise education is like nutrition education. Anyone can speak in general terms about credible information regarding exercise and activity if not paid. An exercise foundation is getting someone started with exercise. It may be assessing you for exercise readiness, screening you to find out you should talk to your doctor first, or helping you start a beginner’s program designed by an exercise agency/trainer, such as an easy walking program. It should not make you breathless, involve lifting anything, or be hands-on exercise guidance one-on-one or in a group setting. Exercise training (personal training) is making recommendations by giving you a workout routine they designed or doing hands-on instruction and guidance (leading you through a work out).

As an aside for both of these definitions of terms: many people are more successful when given education and having a discussion with their health professional about how to apply it. Getting a recommendation is what many people think they want, only to find out those recommendations don’t stick for long. We all know that someone else telling you what to do rarely works for long… we tend to start tweaking things or just straight-up stop, right? A health professional skilled in having the conversation with people about behavior and lifestyle changes can be just as – if not more – helpful in the long-term than someone who can make recommendations.

education plus discussion

Types of Health Professionals

Certified Health Coach. If you want to focus in many areas, this is your go-to professional! Just know that there are many different types of coaching certifications with some being intensive and some being laughable – so ask questions. The more intensive certifications can require a NCCA-accredited certification/license or an associate’s degree in a health-related field as a prerequisite, followed by additional education (classes, readings, practical videos, critiqued practice of coaching skills) and a proctored exam. They can coach you in many areas of health and wellness including nutrition education, exercise education (and possibly building your exercise foundation), sleep, stress, time management, consistency, overcoming challenges, etc. They should also be skilled in motivating you to change and dispelling health myths.

Certified Personal Trainer. For exercise, this is your go-to professional! The same agencies that certify Health Coaches may also certify Personal Trainers so the requirements for this certification are similar except that only a high school diploma and current CPR certification are required. Personal Trainers can do exercise education, foundation, and training. They will know how to work around any injuries you have; but they cannot diagnose or treat injuries (that’s medicine) or help with injury recovery (that’s physical therapy). They can lead you through workouts or design an exercise program for you to follow on your own. For nutrition, dig a little deeper into their training. Legitimately credentialed personal trainers will have some education in nutrition and they can obtain extra certifications in nutrition (quality of programs vary); however, they are limited to nutrition education.  They should also be skilled in motivating you to change and dispelling exercise myths.

Registered Dietitian / State-Licensed Nutritionist. For nutrition, this person is your go-to professional! They will have an undergraduate (or master’s) degree in health / nutrition science and have completed 1,200 hours of hands-on practical internships. They can do nutrition education, make recommendations, and provide MNT. “Registered Dietitian” and “Dietitian” are legally protected titles in most U.S. States. “Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist” is a title for those who have a license from their state’s Department of Health (same as a medical or trades license). In terms of exercise, they can provide exercise education and let you know if your “calories burned” part of the energy equation is low; but they cannot do any exercise foundation or training work with you. They should be skilled in motivating you to change and dispelling nutrition myths.

Nutritionist / Nutritionalist / Nutrition Counselor / Etc. Go make yourself a web page and business card – I’ll wait – congrats you are now a nutritionist! Would you put your health in the hands of someone simply because they have a good eye for design and a compelling way with words? Or because some new and interesting eating or exercise thing they did worked for them? Please be smarter than this. Some “schools” will give people a nutritionist title and it may mean nothing (very little training) or it may be more intensive; either way, unless they are a “licensed nutritionist” they can still only legally do nutrition education in many states. Ask questions before working with someone with this kind of title.

Mental Health Counselor. At times (lots of times), food and exercise issues are rooted in emotional and mental health. The previously listed health professionals help you with the “outside work” (doing things) and can help you work through some of the smaller internal mental challenges with creating new lifestyle habits. They can also help you identify if some more involved “inside work” (thinking things) might be helpful and refer you to a therapist. This is a great person to have on your team; just be sure to find someone state-licensed.

Where do I fit in? I’m so glad you asked!

I am a Certified Health Coach (American Council on Exercise), Registered Dietitian, and State-Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist (Florida); but my approach is different from many other RDs.

I have had clients tell me they were not interested in working with me because I am an RD; but they gave an RD one last try. After a while, they confessed this to me that all they got before were handouts and food rules and it was not helpful. There was no flexibility; just “here, do this.” Thankfully, I do not speak about all RDs here – as practitioners, we are as different as the people you will find in any other helping field.  You will not get a handout, some food rules, and a plan from me and I will not tell you how you should go about reaching your goals. Someone else’s plan (even mine!) will not work for you for long – and it certainly does not get you near the goal of making changes stick for a lifetime.

My job as I see it is to help you examine your goals and how they fit into your lifestyle, break your food rules, and explore the many options you have to reach your goals. Then we set about finding a few small, flexible, realistic ways for you to move towards those goals. I will not tell you what you should or should not do.

Don’t enough people already try to tell you what to do?

Yours in Good Health,

-Alexia Lewis RD

This article is Part 2 of 4 in “Health versus Weight as a Focus for Wellness.”

Part 1: The Continuum of Approaches to Health: Thoughts from a Curvy and Healthy Dietitian Health Coach

Part 3: If Diets Don’t Work, How Can a Health Coach Help Me?

Part 4: What Is This No-Diet / Anti-Diet Thing Anyway?

References & Resources:

Health Coach Certification, American Council on Exercise: https://www.acefitness.org/fitness-certifications/health-coach-certification/default.aspx

ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, American College of Sports Medicine: https://certification.acsm.org/acsm-certified-personal-trainer

5 Steps to Become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics: http://www.eatrightpro.org/resource/career/become-an-rdn-or-dtr/high-school-students/5-steps-to-become-a-registered-dietitian-nutritionist