If you’ve looked for nutrition guidance before, you’ve likely found yourself sifting through a long list of nutrition professionals.
Weight loss coach
Holistic health coach
Holistic nutrition coach
Are you confused yet? I don’t blame you! There are plenty of nutrition professionals out there to choose from.
However, you don’t just want anyone. You want someone who is knowledgeable, reliable, and will help you reach your goals. You don’t want someone who is unqualified, overpriced, and not going to help you find the success you are looking for. The trick is figuring out which nutrition coach is the right fit for you.
As a registered dietitian and nutrition coach, I help people like you work toward your nutrition goals every day. However, I also acknowledge that I am not the perfect fit for everyone. Any nutrition coach who thinks they are is kidding him or herself!
In this article, I’ll help you figure out how to choose the best nutrition coach for you. We’ll talk about factors including:
- Education and training
- Level of support
We’ll also talk about getting clear on what you want because you make up half of the relationship! We’ll also discuss some potential red flags and questions to ask potential nutrition coaches.
Credentials of a Nutrition Coach
The first step is evaluating the credentials of the nutrition coach you are interested in working with. The most well-known and well-respected credential in the field is the registered dietitian credential.
All registered dietitians are nutrition coaches, but not all nutrition coaches are registered dietitians. Registered dietitians go through years of education and hands-on training before taking a national exam to earn their credentials.
Nutrition coaches who are not registered dietitians may hold other certifications. They may be a Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, a Certified Nutrition Specialist through the American Nutrition Association, or a Certified Nutrition Coach through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. These are just a few of hundreds of nutrition coach certification programs available.
It’s important to pay attention to their particular credential, and what the certification process entails. Not all programs are created equal, and some are not providing the well-rounded education and training you want your nutrition coach to have.
To learn more about the distinction between a dietitian and a nutritionist read: Dietitian vs. Nutritionist: Which is right for you?
Review Their Education and Training
Education and training go hand in hand with credentials.
If your potential nutrition coach is a registered dietitian he or she is required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, as well as at least 1200 hours of supervised practice working with experienced dietitians in various settings.
Many other nutrition professionals also hold bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in nutrition. However, nutrition coach, nutritionist, health coach, weight loss coach, etc. are not regulated titles.
Unfortunately, this means that individuals may call themselves by these titles without having any formal education or training in nutrition.
To learn more about the education and training of nutrition professionals read: Qualifications of Nutrition Coaches and Registered Dietitians.
Do They Have Any Specialties?
Depending on your reason for seeking nutrition coaching, you may want to look for a professional with a certain specialty.
If you have diabetes you may want to look for a nutrition coach who is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES). If you have an eating disorder you may want to look for a dietitian who is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS). If you are an athlete you may want to look for a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD).
Many dietitians and nutrition coaches specialize in certain areas. If you have a specific concern it is likely beneficial to look for a nutrition coach who is knowledgeable and has experience in that particular area. He or she will be best equipped to help you achieve your goals.
Does Their Personality Fit With Yours?
Everyone is unique, and you deserve a nutrition coach whose personality fits with yours. Some individuals prefer a no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point approach, while others prefer a more gentle approach.
Knowing what you are looking for is important. Taking the time to learn more about a potential coach’s personality and approach before committing to a long-term program can help ensure you pick the professional that is right for you.
What Level of Support Fits Your Needs?
Every nutrition coach does things a little bit differently. Finding a coach who provides the right level of support for you is key to your success.
Do you want to meet your coach in person?
Would you prefer to see them virtually?
Does a phone call work better for your schedule?
Would chatting online be a better way for you to communicate?
Do you want to speak to your nutrition coach face to face every week?
Would multiple times a week be better?
Is every other week more realistic for your schedule?
Does having the ability to send messages between meetings help you feel more supported?
Do you want the ability to log your food and/or track your progress in an app?
Does having the ability to send your coach questions online feel beneficial?
Would technology support you in reaching your goals?
Cost of Nutrition Coaching
The price of a nutrition coaching program may be a deciding factor for you. Nutrition coaches charge a wide variety of prices for their services, but having a clear idea of what you need to invest to achieve your goals is important.
The best nutrition coaches do not take a one-size-fits-all approach, which means their pricing is likely not a one-size-fits-all either. The program you choose and the number of sessions you intend to complete are some factors that will influence the cost of nutrition coaching.
To read more about the cost of nutrition coaching read: How Much Does Nutrition Counseling Cost in 2022?
Some health insurance programs cover nutrition coaching. Again, many factors determine if your insurance will cover the cost of your program. Your provider, plan-specific benefits, deductible, and more all go into determining if it is covered.
To read more about insurance coverage for nutrition programs read: Does Health Insurance Cover The Cost of Nutrition Counseling?
What Do You Want?
While finding a nutrition coach who is knowledgeable, personable, and affordable is crucial, getting clear on what you want is also important.
Before you start searching for nutrition coaches and making a pros and cons list of different candidates, take some time to turn inward.
- What are your goals?
- Why is it important that you reach those goals?
- What do you need from a nutrition coach to achieve those goals?
- Is there anything you’ve tried in the past that does not work for you?
Having clarity on your end makes the start of the relationship with a nutrition coach so much more productive.
Potential Red Flags
While you hope that all nutrition coaches have your best interest at heart, unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Look for these red flags that may signal your goals are not their goals:
- They promise you a quick fix. For example, lose 15 pounds in 30 days.
- Their program requires purchasing specific supplements.
- They provide generic goals and/or meal plans that are not customized to you.
To take it a step further, ask for reviews or testimonials from previous clients. If they are all written on short-term success, ask about their client’s long-term success.
Ready to Find Your Nutrition Coach?
You’re one step closer to finding the best nutrition coach for you.
It takes two to build a relationship. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about training and education, nutrition philosophy, or the success of previous clients. Communication is the foundation of any relationship.
Our team at OnPoint Nutrition is credentialed and educated, personable and supportive. Our consultation team works to pair individuals like you with the best nutrition coach for you and your goals.
After you are matched with your coach, we provide holistic, personalized nutrition counseling. Your goals become our goals and we work toward them together.
If you want to learn more about our team of dietitians and nutrition coaches, you can read about each of us, our specialties, and our nutrition philosophies.
If you’re ready to jump right into nutrition coaching you can schedule a free consultation today.
Or, learn more about nutrition coaching in our Comprehensive Guide to Nutrition Coaching to help you find the right nutritionist or comprehensive program.
Liz has been reading nutrition labels since she learned how to read. Growing up with severe peanut and tree nut allergies she learned that it’s important to know what you are putting into your body. She made her first big lifestyle change as a freshman in high school, when she decided to become a vegetarian. However, it wasn’t until she took a food class in Italy as part of a study abroad program in college that it clicked in her mind that she wanted to make food and nutrition her career. Liz graduated from Penn State University in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition, as well as a bachelor's degree in Marketing. She completed her dietetic internship with Aramark in Philadelphia, and her master's degree at Northeastern University shortly after.