There is an endless amount of nutrition information available online. There are lists of the best foods to eat, articles that break down healthier swaps for your favorite treats, and even sample meal plans that outline what to eat at every meal, every day.
Information is great, but what happens when it’s not right for you?
What if you’re allergic to something on the best foods list? What if you really just want ice cream, not frozen, blended bananas that resemble a frozen dessert? What if you despise quinoa, but it’s on the meal plan you downloaded?
Do you throw it away? Try to tweak it? Go back to Google and start over?
Maybe you get discouraged. Maybe you get frustrated. Maybe you think it’s impossible to find the one-in-a-million thing that will be the right fit for you.
I have news for you. It doesn’t have to be this hard.
There are people on this planet who are trained not only in the science of nutrition but also in how to tailor nutrition programs to individuals just like you.
We aren’t just average people without nutritional backgrounds who have lost weight or improved our health on our own and now try to recreate that success for others. We are educated, trained, and skilled professionals who can help you avoid ever going back to Google for another generic nutrition plan.
As a registered dietitian who provides personalized nutrition coaching, I describe the work I do with clients as individualized, unique, and custom. No two clients are the same, so no two nutrition plans are the same.
In this article, I'll break down the factors nutrition coaches use to personalize plans for clients just like you. We’ll discuss some basics like age, height, weight, and your personal goals. We’ll also dive into more complex factors including your medical history, current eating habits, daily schedule, and more.
What is Personalized Nutrition Coaching?
As I said, personalized nutrition coaching is individual, unique, and custom. It is centered around the idea that every individual has a unique set of needs and your nutrition plan should be tailored specifically to you.
Personalized nutrition coaching provides you with a comprehensive nutrition program that fits into your lifestyle, not the other way around.
What Makes Personalized Nutrition Coaching Different?
Personalized nutrition coaching brings a human element into the science of nutrition. It’s not just calories in, calories out. It’s not only eating more of this and less of that. It is taking you and your lifestyle into account and developing a plan that works for you.
Nutrition coaches are humans, not computers. We are flexible and adaptable, and help you develop a plan that will work for you. We’ll also help you adjust over time as your circumstances change.
If you’re still wondering how exactly things get personalized to you, let’s dive in.
How Is My Nutrition Plan Personalized?
The list of factors that go into personalizing a nutrition plan is extensive, but generally can be summed up in a few categories:
- Basic information
- Medical history
- Lifestyle factors
- Physical activity
- Mental and emotional health
Your nutrition coach will likely ask you to provide them with your age, height, weight, and gender. Along with this information, your personal goals are extremely important.
If your goal is to lose weight, your nutrition coach will use this basic information to understand what your body needs each day and how that can be adjusted. Similarly, if your goal is to gain weight, this information will also be necessary.
If your goal is not weight-dependent, discussing your personal goals is likely more important than discussing your height and weight. Again, the beauty of working with a human is the ability to adjust to who you are and what you need.
Your medical information is also used to customize your nutrition plan.
Food allergies and sensitivities are also extremely important when it comes to your personalized nutrition plan. Your nutrition coach will work with you to find a healthy, well-balanced way of eating that avoids these items.
If you are on any medications or supplements, these will also be taken into account when building your nutrition plan.
While your basic information and medical history are vital to developing a personalized plan, your lifestyle factors are where nutrition coaching gets more personalized.
Your current eating habits will definitely be a point of discussion with your nutrition coach. What you’re eating, when you’re eating, and how much you’re eating are all important things to consider.
To build a framework for your nutrition plan, your nutrition coach will also likely use your current daily schedule. This may include your eating schedule, work or school schedule, and even your sleep schedule.
Your living situation and household structure are also taken into account. If you live alone and are cooking for one we understand that things will not look the same as feeding a family of five with a few picky family members.
Your meal planning and grocery shopping habits will also likely be discussed and worked into your plan. You may live in an area where you have a wide variety of food available to you or your selection may be limited. We understand that needs to be taken into account, too.
Cooking skills, comfort level in the kitchen, and meal preparation are also things we use to customize your program to you. Whether you’re a skilled chef or prefer to use a meal delivery service instead of cooking, we’ll work with you on what works for you.
We also realize that everyone has different tastes and preferences. These are also part of the personalization process. While we may encourage you to try some new foods, we don’t expect you to force down foods you hate.
Physical activity is another key factor your nutrition coach will use when developing your unique program. The type of activities you prefer and the amount of exercise you do will definitely be discussed.
While nutrition coaches can provide general guidance on physical activity and exercise, most are not personal trainers and may refer you to speak to one if you are looking for a specific exercise plan.
Mental and Emotional Health
While the physical health factors discussed above dictate the majority of what your dietitian will use to develop your personalized nutrition plan, your mental and emotional health will also be taken into account.
Most notably your relationship with food and your body is important. If you have a history of an eating disorder or disordered eating this is also extremely important to discuss and work into your specific plan.
While these are the five main categories of factors your nutrition coach will use to personalize your plan, they are not the only factors. Topics like sleep, stress, and self-care are likely going to become part of your discussions with your nutrition coach throughout your time together.
Including all of these factors in your nutrition plan not only makes it personal but also makes it more likely to work for you.
We often refer to this style of nutrition coaching as holistic nutrition counseling. To learn more about how it all comes together read: What Is Holistic Nutrition Counseling? Is It Right For You?
Where To Go From Here
I like to say that in personalized nutrition coaching we meet you where you are. I never take anyone’s current situation and tell them to change every single thing about it. Instead, I use all of this information to design a path forward that will create serious, sustainable improvements to your health, wellness, and overall life.
At OnPoint Nutrition, our team provides virtual, one-on-one, personalized nutrition coaching. Every single piece of our program is tailored to you and your needs from your virtual, one-on-one sessions to your communication and food logging app to the recipes your coach shares with you.
If you’re ready to stop going generic and ready to get personalized guidance directly from an expert, schedule a free consultation today.
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.