Nutrition Experts: Should You Use One and Which Kind?

As many of us know, the buddy system shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s not that we don’t know what to do, it’s actually doing it that proves to be difficult. Food is so cultural and habitual. Undoing decades of habits (including eating dishes from places we’ve always loved) because of health concerns is a big task for someone to do alone. We looked into a few types of nutrition experts to help you find the person who will optimize your health. Is it a nutritionist? A registered dietitian? A health coach? Watch our guide video to learn more.
One thing to note— certification and training for all of these experts varies.
There’s no formal training or regulation around the term “nutritionist” alone, or the certification around it. If you choose to work with a nutritionist, be sure to ask:
  • Where is your degree from?
  • What is your degree in?
  • How long was your program?
  • How specialized is your training?
For health coaches, there are a couple different options for certification. Healthcare professionals can become certified health coaches (CHCs) through the National Society of Health Coaches. Healthcare and fitness professionals can study with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) to become ACE Health Coaches. Health coaches go through training (the length varies) that usually covers holistic lifestyle approaches and different diets.
In 2017, a new national standard for health coaches was established, National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC). The credentials exam is regulated by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the International Consortium for Health & Wellness Coaching (ICHWC).  ICHWC’s list of approved programs includes:
An registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements. These include:
  • Earning a bachelor’s degree approved by accrediting agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)
  • Completing an accredited, supervised internship
  • Passing a national exam by the credentialing agency for AND
  • Gaining state licensure, if applicable
  • Completing continuing professional ed requirements
More from WellBe:
Changing the “Pill for an Ill” Mentality in Medicine
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How She Recovered from 10 Years of Chronic Disease
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