So you went to sleep promising yourself that tomorrow is the day you’ll turn your life around by quitting your damaging habits, eating right and exercising regularly. You know exactly what you need to do. But the next morning, as soon as the alarm turns on, you hit the snooze button and sleep a couple of hours more while completely abandoning your plans.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. This scenario happens to millions of people everyday–people who are on the brink of change but lack the inspiration or energy to actually make a move.
OK… so then what do people actually do to make that necessary change?
How Do Inspired People Make Life Changes?
They hire coaches and trainers that provide them with guidance and consistent motivation.
When people look for ways to pursue a healthy lifestyle, the terms health coach and nutrition coach often come up. While there’s definitely some similarities between the two, they are also different in crucial ways.
If you want to become either a health coach or a nutrition coach, or would like to work with one, it’s important to be able to tell them apart. In this post we’re going to break down the key difference when comparing a nutrition coach vs health coach.
What is a Health Coach?
A health coach is a trained mentor and accountability partner who helps people achieve the lifestyle change required to start living healthily. Their work encompasses different aspects of the client’s health, including their physical, social and emotional needs.
Health coaches use behavioral science that influences the effective elimination of habits and practices that hinder a healthy and holistic life. They provide assistance in health aspects such as sleep, weight management, stress reduction and disease prevention.
Scope of Functions
Health coaches perform the following responsibilities:
- Assist clients in creating a vision and set personal health goals
- Direct clients in developing health care plans that suit their needs
- Identify underlying issues that serve as barriers towards the completion of their goals
- Guide clients in breaking negative patterns
- Provide unwavering support in cases of recovery or rehabilitation
What a Health Coach is NOT
Health coaches are not necessarily medical practitioners or therapists. But healthcare professionals, like nurses, clinicians and dieticians, can definitely become health coaches through training and certification as an extension of their work.
A health coach does not analyze, interpret or diagnose medical conditions. Instead, they guide their clients toward optimal wellness by forming a partnership and identifying personal health goals for them to work towards.
Health coaches commonly work in the following facilities:
- Healthcare Insurance Companies
- Health Food Stores
- Schools and Universities
- Wellness Centers
- Weight Loss Centers
What is a Nutrition Coach?
As opposed to a general health coach who covers different areas in life, a nutrition coach focuses more on eating habits and food choices. With more than 70% of American adults being either overweight or obese, nutrition coaches are sought after to correct detrimental routine that compromise the body’s metabolism or trigger the development of diseases.
They address psychological factors—like limiting beliefs about food or diet—that lead to successful behavioral changes around eating habits.
Scope of Function
Nutrition coaches carry out the following responsibilities.
- Teach the clients about nutrition (e.g. calories, macronutrients, energy balance)
- Lead and motivate the client towards their health goals
- Discuss supplements and meal planning
- Introduce related life skills such as cooking and smart grocery shopping
- Coordinate with clinicians or dieticians when it comes to meal planning especially for those with pre-existing conditions
What a Nutrition Coach is not?
It is important to understand that the nutrition coach’s area of expertise lies in behavioral change. They do not perform functions that are meant for licensed dieticians or physicians, like prescribing supplements or specific meal plans, diagnosing medical conditions or treating related diseases. But their function is crucial in keeping the client or patient on track when it comes to executing the physician’s recommendation on nutrition and lifestyle changes.
If you become a nutrition coach, you always have the choice of putting up your own consultation or coaching business. But you can also pursue your career in the following workplaces:
- Yoga studios
- Hospitals and Clinics
- Wellness Centers
- Healthcare Insurance Companies
- Healthcare Technology Companies
Health Coach vs Nutrition Coach Key Differences
Both a nutrition coach and a health coach concentrate on equipping the clients with habits, practices, and behavior that are beneficial for their health, while eliminating routines that cause damages to their health and life in general.
The main difference between a nutrition coach and a health coach is simply the coverage of their coaching responsibilities. While health coaches technically encompasses nutrition, they also look into different aspects such as relationships, beliefs, etc. that contribute to the stagnation of poor lifestyle. Nutrition coaches invest their energy in helping their clients achieve positive behavioral changes toward diet and nutrition.
Difference Between a Health Coach vs Nutritionist
On your quest for wellness, you’ve likely also heard the term “nutritionist” tossed into the mix with health and nutrition coaches. While there are overlaps in each profession, there are some important distinctions to make.
A nutritionist helps their clients with planning healthy diets, balancing their macronutrients and monitoring their health goals. They can work with clients on treatment plans tailored to specific medical needs (think diabetes, high blood pressure, PCOS), and can often be found in educational settings creating meal plans and coordinating food service programs.
The term “nutritionist” isn’t regulated, so many nutritionists will become Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) in order to improve their credentials. Once licensed, they’ll have to maintain the state licensure through continuing education.
Becoming a Nutrition Coach or a Health Coach
Nutrition coaches and health coaches continually make a significant difference in the lives of people from all walks of life.
Healthcare professionals such as nurses and doctors, benefit from becoming a health coach or a nutrition coach as they extend their services outside the clinic and into the real lives of their patients. Even those who are coming from non-medical professions can become a certified health coach through proper training.
To become a health coach or a nutrition coach, secure the right education that contains a curriculum encompassing the basic knowledge on coaching such as cutting-edge psychology, brain science, nutrition, and wellness, and more. Look for an institution that offers training on critical skills such as transformational coaching and designing a healthy lifestyle plan.