Last updated on August 14th, 2023.
You may have heard the term “holistic nutritionist,” possibly online, in a film, or even from a friend. Yet, you also may be skeptical as to what a holistic nutritionist is and whether or not it is a credible profession. Is this someone who will push natural supplements and organic foods, or are they credible within the healthcare industry?
A holistic nutritionist is a trained and educated specialist who teaches clients how to use natural, organic foods to improve their entire body. This professional focuses on improving patients physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually through a nutritional diet of whole foods.
A holistic nutritionist may offer an individual or family everything from meal planning and healthy eating habits to tips to living a healthy lifestyle. There are numerous ways a holistic nutritionist helps his or her clients, and proper education and training are required. This career has become a credible occupation in the healthcare industry.
What Is a Holistic Nutritionist?
A certified holistic nutrition practitioner views a client as a whole. That is, the prescribed diet is not only beneficial to one’s physical health. Holistic nutrition combines certain foods so that a person’s entire well-being improves over time. It is a belief that focuses on the “whole” individual, seeking to improve every aspect:
A holistic nutritionist is not a standard nutritionist or health care provider. Doctors help fight physical symptoms, weight loss coaches focus on obesity and the lingering effects, and psychologists concentrate on an individual’s mental health. Holistic nutritionists reflect upon all of these conditions so that the whole person is being treated effectively.
Food choice is the first step with holistic nutrition. One’s diet is not aimed at losing weight but changing one’s lifestyle inside and out. Usually, holistic nutritionists build a diet that includes organic foods that are free of pesticides and toxins. Diets also emphasize plant-based foods, whole grains, and unprocessed and unrefined foods.
By refraining from chemicals, pesticides, and additives, a holistic nutritionist believes their client will eventually balance one’s chemical and hormonal needs. In the end, you will have a detailed meal plan that uses a specific diet and nutritional needs to help your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health function better over time.
What Does a Holistic Nutritionist Do?
A holistic nutritionist is healing you inside and out with an individualized eating plan for the physical body, the emotional and mental mind, and the spiritual soul. Holistic nutritionists work on various problems like digestive issues and weight loss, fatigue and sleep problems, and depression and hormone issues. But, how is this done?
The main job of a holistic nutritionist is to find a specialized meal plan that meets a client’s specific needs. One individual will not need the same physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs as another. Therefore, the following three steps are usually used to confirm that the holistic program meets the needs of a client:
- Assess the client’s current eating habits, lifestyle choices, stressors, and other factors.
- Develop a personalized meal plan that focuses on natural, organic foods that are free from chemicals, additives, and pesticides.
- Introduce healthy eating habits and stress-management techniques to help with the body, mind, and soul.
To become a holistic nutritionist, one must have an understanding of the chemical processes within one’s body, how certain foods may disrupt these processes, and how other foods will help the body function effectively. Therefore, a recognized, credible nutritional education is vital to entering the profession.
(One thing you will learn as a holistic nutritionist is the importance of childhood nutrition. Get a head start by reading that article!)
What Are the 3 Best Holistic Nutrition Schools?
Finding a school that focuses on holistic nutrition can be intimidating and confusing. There are numerous non-degree certificates, undergraduate and graduate programs in which to choose. These programs focus on educational standards needed to determine how a patient should incorporate a healthy diet for one’s whole body health.
A holistic nutritionist helps patients create a meal plan to improve energy, focus, mood, and live a new way of life. However, nutrition education programs focus on the biological side of nutrition as well as the meal-planning side. The curriculum should focus on:
- Healthy eating
- Different aspects of health
It is recommended that an educational program in holistic nutrition be approved by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP). Not only is NANP the standard for the holistic nutrition profession, but graduates of an accredited program are also eligible to join this professional association, adding credibility to their career.
There are currently 22 educational institutions that are accredited with the NANP, and this article will focus on three programs that offer certification degrees. Each of these programs offers the flexibility of studying online. However, there are other programs in which an individual can earn a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree in nutrition.
1. Bauman College
The name alone is one reason why Bauman College was the first choice for a holistic nutrition program. Dr. Ed Bauman was integral in the founding of the NANP, and several of Bauman’s teachers have written exam questions that are on the NANP Board Exam in Holistic Nutrition. In addition, Bauman has the oldest nutrition program in the U.S.
The Bauman program only takes around fifteen months to complete, and graduates of this program attain a Nutritional Consultant Certification (the school has a Holistic Chef Online Culinary Program and the Nutrition Consultant Online Program). Students learn from a mixture of science-based courses and hands-on lessons in holistic nutrition.
Bauman College offers a physical campus for students in Berkley and Sonoma County, California, but classes are also available fully online. There are even some famous names in the field of holistic nutrition who are Bauman graduates, such as New York Times best-selling author, podcaster, and founder of “Balanced Bites,” Diane Sanfilippo.
Graduates of Bauman College are eligible to take the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board exam, which allows one to become Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition. However, the Nutrition Consultant Program is only offered to residents of 17 states. If your state is not approved, the Nutritional Therapy Association program may be a better option.
2. The Nutritional Therapy Association
The Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) offers students the choice of a Certification as a Nutrition Therapy Consultant or a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner for about half the price of Bauman College’s program. NTA has been fully online since 2013 and takes less than a year to complete. NTA has also offered monetary rewards for referrals.
NTA promotes a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Program that focuses on holistic nutritional approaches. This includes an approach that is key to holistic nutrition – focusing on the individual, not a one-size-fits-all program. Students learn how to help their clients plan meals and choose quality food based on their own individual needs.
This program focuses on the main aspect of holistic nutrition, which is focusing on the client as a whole person. Students must complete two exams and score at least 80%, and the curriculum does not only focus on the culinary side of holistic nutrition. It concentrates on emotional and mental well-being, such as:
In addition, the NTA program offers motivational interviewing techniques to help students learn how to find clients and motivate them to change their lives after graduation. However, online learning is not for everyone, which is why the final program chosen offers both online and in-class learning in a brick-and-mortar environment.
3. Nutritional Therapy Institute
The final certification program is from the Nutritional Therapy Institute (NTI). NTI students can attain the education to become a Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner (CNTP). In addition, NTI offers a Master Nutrition Practitioner (MNP) degree. There is also a physical campus located in Denver, Colorado, and courses available online.
Students who study at NTI can complete both certification programs in about two years – the CNTP takes around one year, and then the MNP can be completed in another year. The MNP is attractive in the industry, touting science-based training that includes anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and clinical applications in the industry.
MNP’s can take the NANP board-certified holistic nutrition exam, which gives an individual the credibility and validation needed in the profession of holistic nutrition. The NANP Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board also certifies holistic nutritionists who finish 500 hours of professional service and the holistic nutrition exam.
NTI is respected as one of the forerunners in holistic nutrition education, and all in all, the MNP program is a premier certification opportunity in the industry. However, NTI’s program is not cheap; slightly more than NTA but still a bit less than Bauman College. In addition, all three of these programs offer certifications, not bachelor’s degrees.
What Should My First Next Step Be in Becoming a Holistic Nutritionist?
These programs focus on nutritionist certifications that have met the standards of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals. There are also bachelor’s and master’s programs, which equip students with an undergraduate or graduate degree. These degrees may open more doors for nutritionists in the industry.
Whether you choose a certificate, undergraduate, or graduate degree, all educational curriculums should focus on the connection between a proper diet and overall whole-body health. When reviewing any certificate, undergraduate, or graduate-level program, the following should be included in the course curriculum:
- Nutrition basics, essentials, and research
- Anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry
- Mental, physical, and emotional ties to nutrition
- Herbal medicine and natural supplements
- Disease prevention
If you are looking to become a certified nutritionist or a holistic nutritionist there are studies and exams you would need to take. As discussed, passing the HNCB examination to become certified in holistic nutrition is an important step. In addition to education and certification, it is also recommended that someone aspiring to be a holistic nutritionist complete hundreds of hours of experience working in holistic nutrition before trying to go out on one’s own.
How Do I Move Forward in This Industry?
The holistic nutritionist industry is rising at an incredible rate since individuals are learning about the connection between clean, organic nutrition and overall health. Jobs available could include working in hospitals, outpatient health centers, nursing homes, schools, or even starting your own company.
Holistic nutritionists may even find careers in the government, but the first step is to decide what type of education is best. You can review the certifications discussed here (or there are plenty of other sub-niche certifications in nutrition like taking a detox course online) and compare them to undergraduate and graduate programs. If you are motivated by higher education, a Doctor of Philosophy in Holistic Nutrition is even available.
Becoming a holistic nutritionist can be a rewarding career in that you are helping people essentially get healthy inside and out. By teaching someone how to develop a meal plan that consists of natural, organic foods, your clients can improve their body, mind, and soul. Holistic nutritionists give their clients the tools they need for positive change. For more informative articles in the space of dieting and nutrition check out our nutrition category overall or jump right into this great article on how to set up a plant based diet for beginners.