Health Coach Certification & Nutrition Certification: Where to Start?
This post is for aspiring nutritionists and health coaches as well as health practitioners who want to take their clinical efficacy to the next level with nutrition training programs.
I have lost count of the number of clients who have come to me after seeing over a dozen doctors and spending thousands of dollars to diagnose and treat a condition or array of symptoms they have been suffering with for quite some time.
During this wild goose chase, their quality of life, relationships, and career suffer. They are consumed with feelings of hopelessness, trying to adjust to a new “normal” level of ill health as most doctors tell them they are fine.
It breaks my heart every time I hear this because this kind of confusion and suffering is unnecessary.
Healing doesn’t have to be so complicated. People just need to find a practitioner who has enough knowledge and heart to light their way during a dark and confusing period – someone with the skill to think outside the box and dig deep enough to be able to explain how they got where they are and to draw the map to where they really want to be.
Many of the ideas and beliefs we hold about health in modern society are broken. We embrace a “band-aid” approach to health by administering a medication to mitigate a symptom, which only creates more symptoms and further compromises the body's inherent healing ability (and likely creates the “need” for another medication).
There are conflicts of interest between drug companies, doctors, researchers, and medical journals everywhere. These conflicts of interest prevent us from seeing the body as one whole systemic unit and therefore prevent us from taking back our health.
Throughout my decade of practice, I’ve had over 400 clients and subscribers who have made dramatic career transitions to become nutritionists and health coaches after having been in completely different fields. Once they changed their lives, they “caught the bug” of how amazing achieving better health on all levels can be, and they wanted to pay it forward and help others.
I love that and would imagine that might be why or how you’ve landed here on this blog.
Every week our team receives inquiries about nutrition training programs from people who want to study to do this work. So that you can choose the best path for yourself, in addition to the program overviews below, you can also opt-in to watch recorded webinars I conducted with the founders of my three favorite programs. This way you can experience each person/school’s teaching style and philosophy, know exactly what you will learn in their program, and what you'll be able to do once you complete the program.
Watch our free Health Coach webinar series to help you decide which program is best for you!
Plus you'll get our weekly 5-minute food as medicine videos!
If we are going to shift our society away from all the health myths out there, then we need more health coaches who believe in healing by addressing the root cause instead of individual symptoms. We need more practitioners with an integrative approach that incorporates a profound respect for the intelligence and power of the human body to heal and balance itself when given what it needs.
We also need more practitioners who are willing to listen intently, hearing the subconscious issues and the “story” of their clients, and thus discovering the emotional roots of physical health concerns that, when ignored, can become the elephant in the room.
We deserve more. We deserve to be healthier, happier, and more connected. We deserve to take back our health, starting now.
If you have passion, heart, and a solid work ethic, don't worry about how you will earn a living doing this work. Trust that by following your inner guidance, you will.
The world needs you to be fully YOU and to give what you’re here to give.
While still in private practice, I preferred the nutritionists I hired to have both clinical and holistic training before joining us. So I always recommended they attend both The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and The Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) program. Had I known about Holistic Nutrition Labs (HNL) back then, I would also have put my nutritionists through this program after they had one year of practice under their belt.
The Whole Journey Recommended Nutrition Training Programs:
(All programs are online/distance learning)
Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN)
One attends IIN to become a certified holistic health coach. In the IIN program, you will learn a myriad of dietary theories that will help you customize dietary protocols for clients based upon bio-individuality, their personality, and their emotional capacity for change. These protocols will help your clients heal and maintain their newfound level of health. There is no other school out there that teaches so much about food and how to pull pearls of wisdom from many different dietary theories to create a completely customized “food as medicine” protocol for your clients.
However, IIN is not highly clinical, and you will not learn to run lab work or dive more deeply into severe health conditions with this certification alone. If you want to do what I did in private practice, I highly suggest both IIN and FDN together as an incredible pairing of the holistic and clinical components so that you can concurrently run lab work and have supplement accounts.
The second major bonus about IIN is that it will teach you how to counsel with food and beyond and to meet the client on their level because it is never just about the food. You cannot get a client to adopt a new model of behavior that changes their health unless you address the whole person and understand how to motivate them toward action.
And finally, IIN will give you the tools to set up a health coaching business of your own, which takes the stress and anxiety out of starting your own business. IIN has a renowned faculty, and their program now counts for college units up to 30 units.
I attended IIN in-person in NYC back in 2005/2006 and am a huge proponent of this school. I would not have achieved the level of success I have without this program and all that I learned from it. Please don't underestimate the value of the counseling component. IIN embraces the idea of healthy relationships, career and creative satisfaction, spiritual connectedness, and movement you enjoy as “primary food.” They like to refer to the food we actually eat as “secondary food.” Both “foods” are always changing and shifting according to the needs of the individual, and this program trains you how to consistently adapt so that you can create highly customized protocols for each client, thus setting them up to receive the highest level of support and success while under your wing.
Since I am part of IIN’s Ambassador program, if you choose to attend this school, I can offer you a special savings opportunity. Upon enrollment, ask for the Ambassador Savings Offer and give them my name (Christa/The Whole Journey) and they will provide you with a partial scholarship.
I’ve recommended IIN’s distance program to hundreds of people who have now graduated, and all loved the program.
Click here to learn more about IIN or to sample their classes for free (best way to know if you like the program!)
In our webinar with IIN, you will learn:
- Key foundations to understanding our bodies, what keeps us in balance, and how to go beyond food and the physical to maintain our health for life
- How to maintain health as a core value as life changes
- The Integrative Nutrition Program and curriculum so you can understand exactly what it offers and what you can do with this education in terms of a career path (or just keeping your family healthy).
- Christa’s educational and career building story
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN)
The FDN Certification Course is another online course that gets incredibly clinical about finding the root cause of health issues using top quality lab work. They train you to become a “health detective,” focusing intently on the many facets of digestive health. This includes identifying leaky gut or dysbiosis and pathogens (bad bacteria/parasites/yeast/mold), while also training you to identify liver and kidney issues, and all manner of hormonal imbalances including sex and stress hormones.
FDN can help you understand how to use and customize intelligent supplement protocols while teaching you which labs to use/run to help clients heal from the root cause. There is significant support on how to interpret lab results and client cases, assisting you to create the correct protocols to build health from the ground up.
FDN provides you with a step-by-step method to engage your clients and patients in the healing process so that the clients get the results they want. By gaining a complete understanding, you will be able to treat the client's root cause versus just treating from testing results.
This is an excellent program for the science-minded individual who wants to end the cycle of trial and error and get to the root cause of health issues. It is also for those who want to get lab and supplement accounts for your practice along with the training on how to use them intelligently.
In our webinar with Reed Davis, you will learn:
How to end the Cycle of Trial and Error for you and your clients
How General Principles of Health outperform specific treatments
Which labs identify “healing opportunities” for you & your clients
How you can apply this to “master metabolic chaos”
Important discount code revealed at the end of the webinar!
Functional Nutrition Lab
Functional Nutrition Lab differs from other functional medicine and nutrition training because Andrea Nakayama (their founder and amazing functional nutritionist) provides a forum where anatomy and physiology are looked at through the lens of food and nutrition. Andrea translates the theoretical into the practical. This includes stories, case studies, and done-for-you protocols that apply to specific conditions, which help you to become an effective, efficient practitioner very quickly. I affectionately refer to her as the “Dr. House” of nutrition.
This training gives you a deeper understanding of nutrition so you can effect greater change for your clients while watching your business grow by having a higher rate of success with those clients. The fastest way to build a successful nutrition practice is to care about people 100% of the time and to be both intuitive and knowledgeable enough to help people get and stay well fast. If you're finding that you hit a wall with clients because you're not able to get to the root of the issues that trouble them, this is a great pathway to finding appropriate ways to truly support their healing. I'd recommend Functional Nutrition Lab once you've been through IIN and FDN (or equivalent) and have had at least one year experience with at least 40 clients.
Click here for more details on this program.
In our webinar with Andrea, you will learn:
- How to crack the toughest cases using Andrea’s functional framework of “The Story, The Soup, and The Skill”
- The critical pieces to understand about physiology and systems biology, and the difference it can make in your practice
- How to identify when your clients’ dysfunction started
- How to develop unshakable confidence
Watch our free Health Coach webinar series to help you decide which program is best for you!
Plus you'll get our weekly Food As Medicine episodes!
For existing health practitioners who want to increase their clientele and online presence; a bonus school:
Practitioner Liberation Project
This is not a health coaching or clinical program, but rather a business program for existing practitioners who are ready to up-level their practice to the point of having a waiting list. The Practitioner Liberation Project is an excellent program developed by my good friends and highly successful practitioners, Jordan Reasoner and Steve Wright. They train you how to effortlessly, authentically, and effectively get and retain clients. This program doesn't have specific open enrollment periods. You may enroll anytime.
In our webinar with founders Jordan and Steve, you will learn:
- How to Get Clients and Patients for Your Health Practice
- How to Stand Out in a Sea of Pros Without Being Inauthentic
- Their Exact Six-Figure Coaching Blueprint (& how to use it right away)
- The 3 Marketing Pipelines They Used to Consistently Build Their Coaching Practice
Click here to watch the webinar.
There are many excellent training programs available today. This blog originally launched with eight programs (as you will see in the comments below). We took it down to the ones recommended here because I have a close personal relationship with each of these schools and their founders and a deep understanding of what they offer. I am in complete alignment with their food, nutrition, and practice philosophies and trust the integrity and value of their curriculum. Many of our former clients and those in our TWJ community have gone through these programs with tremendous success.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”