What is a Holistic Nutritionist?

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Most people accept that our food system isn’t what it used to be, and our health care system isn’t what it used to be either. Frequent use of chemicals in farming, the addition of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives to processed foods, & the ease of access to unhealthy foods make the modern diet reveal only a few of the problems with our current way of life. Similarly, more people are going to the doctor for prescriptions today than ever before, and it is common to not even know what you are taking anymore and for what problem. Unfortunately, most people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired don’t feel capable or have the knowledge/resources to change their habits in order to bring about wholeness, vitality, and energy. That’s where Holistic Nutrition and functional medicine comes in.

nutrition books with lamp

Nutrition Consultants play an important role in ​promoting health​ ​and wellness​ specifically through optimal nutrition as well as lifestyle and behavioral factors. Many people know they need to eat healthy or reduce their stress, but they don’t know what healthy is or how to even get started.

The key role of a Nutrition Consultant is to ​educate, inspire, and empower​ clients (and companies, communities, health practitioners, etc.) to make healthy food choices and implement and maintain healthy habits. This role is especially important in today’s world heavily burdened by chronic disease, malnutrition, and constant stressors.

What Holistic Nutritionists DON’T do:

  • Legally diagnose, treat, or manage specific health conditions. This role strictly falls under the practice of medicine and with other licensed health care practitioners.
  • Change or alter medication regimens

What Holistic Nutritionists DO:

  • Emphasize the use of food to promote health and address deficiencies identified through nutritional analysis or diagnosed by a licensed health practitioner.
  • Recommend supplements when warranted based on evidence-based research for specific nutrient deficiencies
  • Help identify and reduce risk factors related to one’s diet, lifestyle, environment, and/or behavior
  • Educate clients about micro- and macronutrients, their role in the body and in disease and health
  • Provide knowledge surrounding specific body systems (e.g. thyroid, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular system, etc) and how these systems function in health- and disease- states
  • Create health goals with clients to achieve positive health outcomes
  • Implement specialized food plans to foster healing and repair
  • Educate clients about common health markers and lab testing (cholesterol, inflammatory markers etc)
  • Collaborate with functional medicine doctors to determine and construct individualized treatment plans related to gut dysbiosis, intestinal permeability issues, thyroid, adrenal support, musculoskeletal issues and autoimmune concerns.
  • Provide ongoing weekly support for clients, including checkins, set goals, address food sensitivities, and provide tools to improve overall health
  • Teach clients how to shop on a budget, read and understand food labels, shop for seasonal produce, and find easy affordable alternatives for common processed foods

Board Certification in Holistic Nutrition®

It is important to find a holistic nutritionist who is board certified because it demonstrates that your practitioner has achieved the highest level of professional recognition and validation of knowledge and experience in the holistic nutrition industry. Board certification ensures:

Credibility in the Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Field

Board certification indicates that the individual meets educational and ethical standards required by a professional credentialing body that has thoroughly vetted the individual’s education and experience (at least 500 contact hours).

Assurance of Holistic Nutritionist’s Professional Conduct

Board certification proves that the practitioner conducts business within the legal scope of service and standards of professional conduct.

Continued Education in the Holistic Nutrition Field

All board certified holistic nutritionists® through the NANP are required to maintain professional membership with the National Association of Nutrition Professionals. This means that each practitioner must document continued education units every two years to maintain professional membership status and be committed to the best, most current research and advanced nutritional science.

Confidence in Every Holistic Nutrition Practitioner

Your health is important. Therefore, board certification offers confidence that you are working with a practitioner who can provide you resources and education consistent with the broader scope of functional and integrative medicine.


Bauman College (2019). NC Scope of Practice [PDF].

National Association of Nutrition Professionals. www.nanp.org.

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