I am a Nutrition Counselor, a Food and Nutrition Coach. The differences between nutrition education and counseling are what make my job special, and sort of mysterious. I often have new clients, friends and family members who say things like, “I’ve never seen a nutritionist before, I don’t really know what you do” and “I don’t really know how you can help me”, or people who say, “I read everything, but I do nothing”, or “I just need a meal plan to tell me what to eat”.
I feel the need to to take some of the mystery out of my work as a Coach, and that starts with talking about education versus counseling.
You can get nutrition education from just about anywhere. Online, in magazines and books, on your phone, from your friend, your cousin, or a salesperson, from your personal trainer, your doctor or your neighbor, and the list can go on and on. The trouble with nutrition information being literally everywhere is that the information is often not accurate, it is never individualized and, unfortunately, additional nutrition knowledge does not make you any healthier.
Knowledge does not lower your blood pressure; it does not prevent a heart attack or diabetes; and it does not improve your mood or boost your energy. It does not get you a PR in a half marathon, it does not keep you from bonking and it does not increase muscular strength or endurance. Knowledge does not slim your midsection or tone your arms. Knowledge does not control your hormones or impact your metabolism. Knowledge alone can’t get you pregnant (well, there’s a lot more you need for that one!) And knowledge does not prevent or treat an eating disorder.
Your behaviors do. How you eat, exercise, sleep, manage stress, and cope with emotions has a direct impact on your mood, energy, fertility, body weight, exercise performance and your ability to prevent disease. Your behaviors do have the power to improve the quality of your life.
As a Coach, my job is to listen, ask questions and listen some more. This describes nutrition counseling, not education. I do have a lot of knowledge to share, but I try to share this information only when asked, only after I have holistically assessed the person, and only when I feel confident that I may understand how to deliver that information in a way that will be meaningful and well received. If I am unsure how to deliver it, I will ask more questions and listen some more. If I share information without considering how it will be received, I will be ineffective and possibly even harmful.
I love to educate people because I find nutrition, food and exercise information fascinating and exciting, but I respect the fact that nutrition information only has the power to change a person when it is correctly packaged for that unique person. So, that is what I try to do. I work to understand what someone wants and needs, to identify what is standing in their way, and to help them find their way to healthier living.
These differences between nutrition education and counseling are what make me question my mission with the articles and blogs that I write and that you read. I know that contributing more nutrition information to the world may make eating more difficult for some. More information may actually make behavior change more challenging and confusing. Excess information may trigger disordered eating, fear of food and eating disorders. And, since I believe that it is crucial to have individualized information when trying to make behavior changes, I have to question my intentions with the articles I write and the blog I created.
After some New Year’s reflection, I realize that I want to share information in a meaningful way that makes you want to maintain healthy habits, in addition to developing new ones. I often have little bits of information that I find so interesting, exciting or crucial that I want to scream from the rooftop; the blog and articles that I write help to satisfy my desire to spread the good word of nutrition to past, present and future clients, friends and family. And I want to share tasty recipes because cooking is my passion and I hope to share that excitement with you.
So what do I do all day? I individualize nutrition information so that it makes sense your unique needs, optimizes your health and genetic expression and I help you develop the skills to plan, prepare and assemble healthy meals, no matter how busy you are.
Simply knowing doesn’t mean that are doing. You need certain skills and tools to live and eat well, troubleshoot barriers, and address emotional eating. You may also need accountability to ensure that you reach your goals. Lifestyle change requires more than just knowing what you “should” do. I hope to do more than simply add more information to your “should do” list. I want motivate and inspire you to use this information to your benefit so that you live a higher quality of life.
Happy New Year! Welcome to 2012!
Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.