why I'm not a nutritionist anymore

Why I’m Not a Nutritionist Anymore

I’ve been working as a Registered Nutritionist & Health Coach for 5 years, and had incorporated nutritional counseling and meal plans into my business as a Personal Fitness Trainer & Bootcamp Company owner for the 5 years previous to that.

Do the math…that’s over 10 years of being a Nutritional Ninja, as some clients have affectionately called me!

Why I decided to become a Nutritionist

I officially became a Nutritionist back in 2012 — a Certified Holistic Nutritionist (CHN) and Registered Nutritional Counselor (RNC) to be more precise, because the term “nutritionist”, as official-sounding as it is, is not actually regulated.

So just about anyone with a background in nutrition can call themselves one – which annoys the heck out of me, because I worked really hard and am very proud to call myself one!!

I had started the course work when I was pregnant with my second child in 2011 knowing that once I had two wee ones at home, there would be no resurrecting my once-booming outdoor fitness business.

Besides the fact that my husband and I had decided I would basically be a stay-at-home Mom, chronic back issues also played a big part in my decision to transition from the fitness industry into nutritional counselling.

I needed something that I could do mostly from home but I wanted to still feel really passionate about what I was doing.

I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, and positively impact them, as I felt I had been doing with my fitness company.

The answer came easy…I would focus on the nutrition niche, specializing in women’s health & hormones.

Seeing as I myself had experienced multiple hormonal imbalances over the course of my two pregnancies, this became my mission:

Don’t let other women suffer in silence or feel alone in their health struggles.

sunset beach yoga

How Do You Become a Nutritionist (or Health Coach)?

Well, not exactly an easy answer because there are so many different ways to go about this!

First, all designations in the holistic health or natural health field are not created equal, and you have to ask yourself exactly what you hope to accomplish by going into this line of work?

Are you most interested in just nutrition or all aspects and manners of health optimization? Do you want to specialize in a certain area of health, like diabetes, digestive health or hormone balancing?

Then you have to decide if taking an in-class, virtual classroom or distance education program is right for you. Does it offer an internship &/or job experience? Then there’s the length & depth of program, hours of study required, and of course, cost to consider.

What credentials do you need to work in the job that you are pursuing? Is it Nutritionist (CHN, RHN, etc), Nutritional Therapist (NT), Dietitian (RD), Health Coach…?

As I mentioned, all of these titles (and other ones you may think sound similar) do not mean the same thing, and there are many different educational paths that have to be taken.

Wondering what the difference is between ‘Nutritionist’ and ‘Dietitian’?

I get asked this a lot, and people assume the two designations are the same, but they are quite different.

For example, all Dietitians (RD’s) may also used the title Nutritionist, but Nutritionists cannot use the other title.

Adapted from Alive Academy website, referring to these designations in Canada, where I live:

“Titles such as Nutritionists (in some provinces), Nutritional Consultants, and other similar titles are not protected by law and can be used synonymously with one another as the profession is currently unregulated in North America and many other countries around the world.

This is why organizations such as the International Organization of Nutritional Consultants (IONC) and the Canadian Examining Board of Health Care Practitioners (CEBHCP) are extremely important as they work to regulate and lend credibility to an unregulated profession.

They ensure that practitioners meet high educational and ethical standards by issuing their exclusive Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (RNCP) & Registered Nutritional Consultant (RNC) professional designation to those who do meet these rigorous standards.

A Dietitian holds a Bachelors degree, specializing in the science of foods and nutrition, as well as a period of practical training in a hospital or community setting. The main focus is institutional diets and food service management – such as developing diets for hospital patients, school food service programs, and nursing homes.

The titles Registered Dietitian, Professional Dietitian, and Dietitian are protected by law through provincial legislation. The term Nutritionist is protected for Dietitian’s in some provinces/states. Dietitians do not necessarily practice a holistic approach to nutrition.”why I'm not a nutritionist anymore

What was my path to becoming a Nutritionist?

I actually already had a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of British Columbia (in Vancouver), with a minor in Dietetics & Human Kinesiology (HKin). That’s what first led me into pursuing my Fitness Trainer’s certification.

Then, because we moved from Vancouver to Kelowna, BC for my husband’s work as a Clinical Pharmacist, I decided to complete an online distance education program. This was at a time when the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition – CSNN, didn’t yet exist in Kelowna.

It was a great experience, and so much more flexible than other schools & programs that were available at that time.

I received a Diploma in Advanced Nutrition that was complementary to the dietetics course work I had already done in university, which gave me a good foundation on which to begin building a nutrition consulting practice.

But now there are so many other options out there, and if I were to do it all over again as a Health Professional, I’d be a Naturopathic Doctor — but that’s for another post!

Why I’m NOT a Nutritionist anymore

So, if I had such a positive experience becoming – and working as a Nutritionist…what’s changed?!

Why I'm Not a Nutritionist Anymore | Making Lemonade with Krista Goncalves, RNC

Well, it’s not that I just gave up my designation – I’m still registered as an RNC, and still help people with their nutritional challenges when and where I can. I feel compelled to help actually, it’s in my veins!

However, the way that I’m helping people and WHO I am helping is what’s changed the most.

Truthfully, I’ve lost the magic beans that fueled my Nutritional Ninja persona. I no longer feel like I am in my “zone of genius” when I’m counseling people on their digestive woes, disgruntled hormones, diet blunders, and meal planning gong shows. Not judging, of course, after all I was one of those people too!

So is that the end of Making Lemonade?

Kaaaaale NO! It just means I’m switching gears.

What does get me all juiced up these days is helping other Nutritionists, Health & Wellness Experts to get a jump start with their own businesses — because that’s what I wish was available to me when I was a newbie-tritionist!

I’m now doing copywriting and business clarity coaching for other wellness entrepreneurs.

So if you are one, or you know of one – be sure to let them know that Krista’s got a brand new bag ‘o lemons baby!

Making Lemonade 2.0 here we come!

Before You Start Your Health Coaching Program

Now, I’m certainly not going to steer anyone away from becoming a Nutritionist, Dietitian or other Health & Wellness Practitioner as health issues, especially women’s health, are near and dear to my hemp heart!

There is great value that comes from the work of an alternative or complementary health practitioner, and they provide people with the critical guidance that is often missing, or is under-used in the conventional medical model.

You know the one: go to Doctor, tell them your problems, maybe get a blood test, get told results are normal, get told nothing is wrong with you (except that it’s all in your head), and get sent home with prescription for X, Y, Z pharmaceuticals.

You can see the huge gaps in that model!

I urge you to just do your research on the health & wellness industry, the designation you are planning to pursue and what it is you truly want to get out of this type of career. I would also recommend that you write a business plan before even start your course work.

Oftentimes, brand new health & wellness pro’s are all excited to get out of school and begin taking clients (which you should!), but they don’t know the first thing about how to start or run their health coaching business!

(much more on this topic coming soon *wink, wink*)

Choosing Your Health Coaching Program

Be sure the program or school you choose is accredited, provides you a designation that can be registered such that you’re able to acquire professional insurance and includes courses in business, marketing and even social media.

You will also want to look into, and weigh the pro’s and con’s of whether most insurance companies or extended health plans will cover your services in your province, state or country.

These are all things I was I had a clue about when I went finished my program. Oh, how things have changed in the last 5-10 years!

Did I ever tell you about the time that I got a B.Sc. degree in Marine Biology because I thought I was going to swim with dolphins and whales for my “real job”?

Yah, you can imagine how that one turned out!

Want to become a Nutritional Ninja or Kickass Health Coach?

Already a Wellness Rockstar and need help building your new biz?

Check out the Ultimate List of Business Resources for Health Coaches & Wellness Experts

Feature image credit: photographer James Frie, pxleyes.com