In today's fast-paced, high-demand world, we have become a culture focused on convenience and that includes how you eat. Food in its natural state is what humans were meant to eat, but over the decades, convenience has nudged out some of these healthier choices. When hunger strikes, it's much easier to open a can, unwrap a package or pop a lid than it is to actually prepare a fresh meal. The cost of convenience has a significant impact on your health. The link to your health and what you eat has taken centre stage and many are looking to holistic nutrition as a way to not only feed their bodies but as a way to get back to optimal health.
What is a holistic nutrition?
Holistic Nutrition is a natural approach to health that uses evidence-based techniques for diet, lifestyle and detoxification. Instead of focusing on just one aspect of the person, or taking a one size fits all methodology, holistic nutrition evaluates the complete health history, emotional state, lifestyle habits and current diet habits of an individual to determine the root cause of your health issues.
From there, the goal is to empower and educate you into improving your health with the use of nutrient dense foods, natural supplementation and lifestyle recommendations.
The Role of a Holistic Nutritional Consultant
A holistic/natural nutritional practitioner is a health professional who assesses health and vitality in the natural context of a client’s whole life experience, including their physical, emotional, social and environmental circumstances, and who uses nutritional choices, supplements, education and lifestyle modifications in a non-invasive way to empower clients towards self-healing, increased health and maximized vitality.
Holistic Nutritional Consultants typically evaluate their client's nutritional needs by identifying symptoms that indicate health imbalances. They then provide individualized health plans, which include nutrient-dense whole foods, lifestyle recommendations and/or natural source supplements in order to help bring the client's health back to a state of equilibrium. Holistic Nutritional Consultants access their clients' health through one-on-one consultations and focused questionnaires and then provide health and lifestyle recommendations that are tailored to the individual's needs.
Holistic Nutritional Consultants create individual meal plans and recipes for their clients, teach them how to decode food labels to help them make optimal food choices, and provide them with food shopping advice and information. Some also provide cooking and food preparation lessons. They assess their clients' stress, exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, sleep, relaxation and overall lifestyle practices. They monitor their clients' progress towards their health goals. Most importantly, they encourage self-responsibility by empowering clients through personalized education and information.
Dietitian or Holistic Nutritional Consultant?
Holistic Nutritionists are an important part of natural health care, just as dietitians are important to the allopathic model. A Holistic Nutritional Consultants is to a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) as a Dietitian is to a Medical Doctor (MD).
At the heart of the matter, and where it is most important, both holistic nutritional consultants and dietitians have one common objective, which is to assist their clients in achieving their health goals through sound, science-backed, nutritional recommendations. Both practitioners approach their clients with the utmost professionalism. They are customer-focused, providing education and real-world recommendations on food. Both empower their clients to make food choices that have a positive impact on health.
While the goal is common, how these people are educated, regulated and their fundamental approach to achieving that goal differs greatly. Further, there is plenty of misinformation swirling in the market which is making it difficult for people to choose wisely. It is my intention to help clarify some of the key points so that you can make an informed choice — a choice that will ultimately result in a healthier you.
Where these professionals differ greatly is in the hospital setting, such as the ICU or the neonatal unit where tube feeding may be required, as an example. Dietitians are specially trained in these procedures (controlled acts). It is because of these controlled acts, where the potential for harm exists, that dietitians are provincially regulated. This is for obvious public safety reasons.
Because there is no risk of harm in anything that a Holistic Nutritional Consultant does within their scope of practice, there is no requirement for government regulation. However, the industry self-regulates using similar models as those used by the provincial regulatory bodies which govern dietitians. These Canada-wide associations develop and enforce codes of conduct, ethical standards, yearly continuing education requirements and a means by which clients can submit complaints and have them redressed to the professional in question.
There are also plenty of untrained people doling out diet advice, be it your neighbor or the columnist in your community paper/magazine. Regardless of which route you choose, natural or allopathic, always ensure you are choosing an individual who has been trained, holds a license or certification and is in good standing with their regulatory body or association. These designations should be clearly indicated on their business cards, web sites or within their offices. If you don’t see these, ask for proof of qualifications.
The knowledge and benefits offered by holistic nutritionists
Holistic Nutritional Consultants are conscientious and well informed about the connections between the environment, toxins, food production and preparation, and the resulting quality of food. They recommend whole foods that are natural, alive and good quality, and which support sustainable farming practices and a healthy environment. They may also recommend high-quality natural source vitamins and minerals. They encourage the use of non-toxic environmentally-friendly household and personal products.
Holistic Nutritional Consultants are educated on the functions of the digestive, immune and other whole-body systems. They are trained to recognize food intolerance and allergies, blood sugar fluctuations, and the multiple causes of inflammation, which are the source of many common health conditions. As such, Holistic Nutritional Consultants are valuable resources for corporations. They can help reduce employee sick days and employee health care costs by addressing the effects of stress and preventing many common health ailments. By helping employees regain vitality and wellness, Holistic Nutritional Consultants support a healthier and happier workforce that benefits all.
Top health benefits of a holistic diet
Food is not only fuel, but medicine for the body. As once stated by Hippocrates, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food". By following a holistic nutrition plan, you may experience a number of health benefits, such as the following:
- weight loss and weight management
- increased energy levels
- improved mood and less anxiety and depression
- better sleep
- better focus
- improved skin tone and texture
- strengthened immune system
- balanced blood sugar levels
- balanced hormones
- reduced cholesterol and blood pressure levels
- improved digestion and relief from constipation
- ...and many more...
Additionally, many chronic illnesses and conditions can be managed through diet, such as:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- ...and many more...
At its core, holistic nutrition is designed to get the body, mind and soul back to optimal health in order to feel energized, vital and balanced for life.
Health Coverage: Many "flex plans" or "Health and Wellness Spending Accounts" allow members to allocate their health insurance funds towards complimentary health services. Please check with your insurance company to see if your plan extends coverage to nutritional counseling services from a Natural Nutrition-Clinical Practitioner (NNCP) and Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant (CHNC) that fall under holistic health. If you do not have third-party coverage, your receipts may be used as a tax deduction from medical expenses.