Should you become a health coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition?

In 2011 – a looonnnngggg time ago now – I did the Institute for Integrative Nutrition course out of New York. I did so for personal education reasons.

I will flag very clearly, I did not do the course to become a “health coach”, but to be steered toward the latest ideas, research and thinkers. I was hungry for satiating information about wellness and couldn’t find an appropriate course here that tapped into the really contemporary approaches.

Of course, the IIN teachings certainly played a part in the evolution of my I Quit Sugar ebooks, books and business. And, as my business grew, thousands of folk out there have been keen to follow a similar educational trajectory. And so, I get questions. A lot. Mostly along the same lines. To this end, I’ve answered all the common ones here in this video below.

Update: Before you hit play, though, please take note… I’ve contemplated pulling the video down because more recently I’ve felt uncomfortable about “plugging” this course. Especially when I take an affiliates fee for it, which I am very transparent about (FYI I take the affiliate fee somewhat comfortably as it contributes to me being able to run this blog). Over time I’ve come to feel the “health coach” phenomenon has become problematic. A lot of people have done this or other similar courses and are selling themselves as wellness professionals, when, honestly, the course does not qualify them to the extent that their self-promotion suggests. This self-promotion issue stems from the course itself. As I mention in the video, part of the course targets marketing yourself as a “health coach”. I did not do this part of the course due to my discomfort around such self-promotion tactics. My point remains, however. The course very much helped me with my own personal and professional endeavours, but only as an adjunct to what I was doing.

I’ve left this post, and the video up, however, for now, as I do get asked so many questions about the course. I feel my response is important for people seeking a balanced view.

The video covers off:

  • That I’m an affiliate for the course*
  • How does the course work?
  • How long is the course?
  • How many hours per week?
  • Is it business-focused (as opposed to straight nutritional information)?
  • Will I get a job out of it?
  • Is the course accredited?
  • How scientifically valid is it?
  • How did the course help me?

A couple of other points I’ll also flag:

In no way does the course qualify anyone to become a nutritionist.

Yes, you study nutritional theories, but certainly not in the same way you would if completing a university nutrition degree. Some have found the fact that IIN describes itself as a “nutrition school” misleading. I tend to agree, given the common understanding of a nutrition school is understood to entail a three-year university degree. That said, the course materials very clearly delineate their teachings and outcomes from such degrees.

I don’t recommend IIN as a first or only tertiary course.

I probably stand a little apart when I say this: The IIN course is best for those who are either interested from a personal education perspective (as I was) or want to supplement another degree or career path. I don’t recommend it to 18-year-olds fresh out of school wanting to launch a career.

So what is a health coach exactly?

I put it thus: A health coach is to a nutritionist what a personal trainer is to a physiotherapist. Or, a health coach is to a nutritionist what a life coach is to a psychologist. Like a PT or life coach, a health coach steers and motivates clients to fulfill their health outcomes. They don’t medicate or prescribe. They educate and inspire. This post written by a registered dietician (which is different again to a nutritionist) explains why she studied IIN and how it integrates with her work as a dietician. It might help.

Am I a health coach?

Nope. I never set out to become one and have never operated as one. And as flagged above I take issue with folk promoting themselves as qualified health professionals off the back of doing the course. I’m a journalist and writer who shares information about wellness. I’m a wellness conduit, or an n=1 educator. And I ensure the team at I Quit Sugar, which includes a nutritionist and a dietician, stay on this page with me. Again, in my opinion, the course should be used for personal education purposes or to supplement other qualifications or experience only. That said, I’ve seen people launch appropriate careers off the back of doing the IIN course, for instance Joanne who used the knowledge gleaned to launch her business as a virtual assistant for wellness operators. She’s also really upfront about the pros and cons of the course.



* This effectively means two things: I get paid a commission when someone enrols in the course having learned about it through me. I’m also able to offer discounts as a result of the number of people who enrol via me. Simply mention my name when you correspond with them.

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