What is a Holistic Nutritionist?

For today’s post I wanted to explain a little about what exactly Holistic Nutrition is, and how it differs from a dietician.  I know there’s often confusion about holistic nutrition, and people don’t understand why they should see a nutritionist over a dietician.  I’ve also heard comments in passing that ‘anyone can call themselves a nutritionist’, so I wanted to explain what to look for in a nutritionist so you know you’re getting the real deal. 🙂

What is a Holistic Nutritionist?

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 his or her health issues.  Here are just some of the issues holistic nutritionists help with:

  • Acne/skin conditions
  • Cravings
  • Depression/mood/happiness
  • Detoxification
  • Dietary changes/food allergies
  • Disease prevention (i.e. cancer/osteoperosis/arthritis)
  • Hormone issues
  • Increased energy
  • Improved sleep
  • Weight-loss

From there, the goal is to empower and educate the client into improving his or her health with the use of nutrient dense foods, natural supplementation and lifestyle recommendations.

How Does A Holistic Nutritionist Differ From A Registered Dietitian?

Registered dieticians apply the guidelines found in the Canada Food Guide and make recommendations based on the Recommended daily allowances. They are government regulated and often work out of government run institutions such as: hospitals and schools.

Registered dieticians have a wealth of knowledge as well, however it’s important to recognize that there is no one size fits all diet, and the majority of people feel significantly better not eating wheat & dairy, two of the main foods on Canada’s Food Guide.

Nutritionist Certification

As nutritionists are not yet government regulated, it’s important to look for the certification, Certified Nutritional Practitioners (CNPs), as CNPs are holistic nutritionists with a diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition.  This is recognized and approved by the Certified Nutritional Practitioners Council of Canada (CNPCC). The other certification to look for is RHN which stands for Registered Holistic Nutritionist.

Here is a list of some of the courses a Holistic Nutritionist would have taken:

  • Fundamentals of nutrition
  • Anatomy & physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Advanced nutrition research
  • Herbal medicine
  • Prevention of disease
  • Pathology of disease
  • Nutrition and the environment
  • Psychology of disease
  • Natural supplementation
  • Holistic food preparation

Are Holistic Nutritionists Covered On Benefits Programs?

It depends which company you use, and this is constantly changing - more and more companies are starting to cover Holistic Nutritionists.

If your benefits plan is under Greenshield or Manulife, it should be covered; however, it's typically under "Nutritional Counselling / Social Work / Counselling" and is not the same as being covered with a Registered Dietician or Registered Nutritionist. If your benefits plan is under Sunlife, Great West Life or Pacific Blue Cross, there is a chance it's covered, but you will have to call to confirm.

The more times that you request Holistic Nutrition to be covered, the more likely this will keep expanding to be covered under more plans.

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