Which do I need? A Nutritional therapist, a health coach or a trainer to achieve my health goals?

Getting the right support can be a great way to achieve your health goals in a timely manner. But choosing the right support for your needs matters.

There are so many and different health professionals out there these days. From dieticians to nutritional therapists, to health coaches and personal trainers and self-paced courses covering various nutrition queries. It’s a minefield.

I first trained as a Nutritional therapist and I continue to use that as my main support when working with my clients. However over the years when working with clients on complex issues, it was not so much the dietary changes that they found hard, but more the longer lasting lifestyle changes needs for sustained and nourished health. I now use a blend of nutritional therapy, wellness coaching and training to support my clients in achieving their health goals.

What is the difference between a nutritional therapist, health coach and trainer, and which one do I need to get me the results I want?  

What is a Nutritional Therapist?

A nutritional therapist is a healthcare professional who focuses on using nutrition and dietary changes to support their clients in achieving optimal health and addressing any specific health concerns or conditions.

A word of warning: Currently anyone can call themselves a nutritionist or a nutritional therapist regardless of their training. Here in Ireland a Nutritional Therapist that has undergone a 3-year diploma or higher in Nutritional therapy can register with the NTOI (Nutritional therapist of Ireland) or the ANP (Association of Naturopathic Practitioners). As part of this registration each therapist has to carry out yearly CPD training to keep up to date with the latest research in their field of practice. Any advice given by a nutritional therapist registered by the NTOI or ANP is supported by scientific research.

Following an in-depth initial consultation they will assess a clients health goals and identify any nutritional imbalances or other supports that may be needed to be supported to help in achieving the clients goal. For this reason any protocol given by a nutritional therapist is tailored to that client and their needs. While a nutritional therapist will use food as their main tool to achieve the health goal, they may also use supplements to address any nutritional deficiency or support an underlying issue.

The nutritional therapist will generally see the client for 1 or more follow-up sessions to monitor their progress and make any necessary changes to their protocol.

Each nutritional therapist works differently. Some will only offer one-off sessions, while others will offer more longer-term packages of sessions over 3 or 5 months. If you are unsure what they offer or how they can support you, always ask for a call before signing up to work with them.

What is a health and wellness coach?

A health and wellness coach helps individuals improve their overall well-being and achieve their health goals by providing guidance, support, and accountability. Health coaching isn’t about telling you what you need to do. Coaching is about giving you the time, space and support you need to figure out what’s keeping you from reaching your health goals. 

Working with a coach in the strictest sense of the word means that they won’t be giving you advice. Instead, in each session, the coach will guide you by asking the right questions, using coaching tools and allowing you time for reflection. This will draw out what is standing in your way to achieving your goals and from this, allow you to create a plan of action that will work and feels good for you.

A coach doesn’t have a pre-determined idea of what you need, instead they are there to allow you to find the answers from within in a skilled way.

For some, a wellness coach is all that they need. They already have the information on what they need to do to be healthy, but they lack the confidence, accountability or they are experiencing barriers on how to put this into action.

In this instance coaching can be very powerful. It can give you the confidence in yourself to take the information you already have and put it into practice your way.

For others though, pure coaching isn’t enough. If you need the nutrition know-how or need advice on what you need to eat or do for your specific circumstances, health coaching alone isn’t for you.

What is a trainer or an educator?

There are many health experts out there that also offer self-paced courses that you can learn what it is you need to do. Whether that’s an introduction to Keto, Solutions to constipation, Heal your gut or What you need to know for the peri-menopause. You’ll probably find a course out there for what you need.

As well as being a Nutritional therapist I would also be an educator. I’ve learnt over my years of working with clients that some gain better results when they understand what’s happening or have some background on why they need to do something. This is why I offer my Totally Nourished clients a bank of resources and mini-trainings filled with practical demonstrations and in-depth sessions on the background of why. I also run 4-week workshops throughout the year as I really enjoy the engagement and passing on of knowledge.

My clients and workshop attendees have told me that I’ve a great way of explaining the science behind the nutrition trends and in breaking this down into easy and achievable steps for them to follow long after they’ve worked with me.

So what am I?

While I’m traditionally classed as a Nutritional therapist, I learnt long ago that there was a missing link in being able to support my clients in life-long change with regards to their health. I had the answers for what they needed to do nutritionally speaking, but how this could be applied to their way of life and circumstances required a different approach.

For this reason I also trained as a health coach and I blend these coaching skills with my knowledge of what is needed nutritionally. I want my clients to be empowered with regards to their health. I want them to know what suits them the best and how to apply it to their way of living. The answers to that lie within the client and coaching helps to bring that to the fore.

As I love to teach and pass on my background knowledge I’m also a trainer. I bring this into my packages as resources for my clients and also to my stand alone 4-week workshops throughout the year.

So you could say that I’m a blend of all three.

What do you need to achieve your health goals right now?

Before you invest in any support you need to decide what you need right now.

  • If you already have all the background information you need, but are struggling with implementing the solution or have some mindset blocks, then a health coach is for you.
  • If you need tailored nutritional information, a space to ask for advice and also on-going support, then a nutritional therapist is for you.
  • If you’re happy to acquire the information through live or self-paced courses and mini-training sessions and put it into practice in your own time, then a trainer or short course is for you

If you would prefer a blend of all three then my Totally Nourished 3-month package may be for you. If you would like to learn more on how this could help you or see if we’re a good fit, book in for your free no-obligation 20 minute health review call here.


Enjoy this post?

Download your Self-Care for Gut health workbook

Sometimes the last piece of the puzzle, but supporting a healthy lifestyle can be the most important tool to achieving long-term gut health


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *