How to Become a Holistic Nutritionist in Canada
Considering a career in nutrition? Great choice. Holistic nutrition is a fascinating field with an ever-expanding knowledge base. An education in nutrition can offer practical knowledge for your own well-being, can supplement your knowledge if you are an existing practitioner, and can translate to a rewarding career spent helping others.
In Canada, holistic nutrition is a self-regulated profession. This means that there is no professional governing body, but schools can offer their own form of credential. There are a number of institutions offering programs that allow you to use a particular designation or title. Let’s explore some of these programs and address some common questions people ask about the field of holistic nutrition.
How do you become a holistic nutritionist?
At this point, you may have researched how to obtain a holistic nutrition degree only to find that there’s no such thing. It’s true, there is no degree in holistic nutrition offered in Canada, but don’t worry, you can still turn your passion for nutrition into a career.
While there is no holistic nutrition degree, there are a number of programs that offer training in holistic nutrition. You can do your training online or in-person. Online education offers flexibility and gives you more freedom to work and to travel while studying. Learning on-campus allows for more networking opportunities, hands-on learning, and easier access to clinical experience.
Education does more than enable you to put letters after your name. Having formal training makes it easier to get hired, makes you eligible for liability coverage, and in certain cases, allows you to register with professional organisations like the NANP.
How long does it take to become a holistic nutritionist?
Because programs vary, the amount of time it takes to obtain a certification or diploma will vary as well. Program lengths range from a few months to a few years.
How much money does a holistic nutritionist make?
Again, this can vary widely. It’s possible to make a modest wage while you’re studying or just starting out. Over time, you can build your experience and create a business of your own or get paid more to work for others. Salary estimates for nutritionists start around $23,400 for entry-level positions to $67,709 for more experienced candidates. Other estimates for holistic nutritionist practitioners range from around $30,000 to $100,000 per year. Having additional education in areas such as marketing or business management, for instance, could help your prospects and income forecast.
What can a holistic nutritionist do?
There are many possibilities here. You can be self-employed and grow your own business, or you can work as part of an integrative team. Consider how you would like to practice and what type of clientele you want to attract. The answers will likely be clarified over time, but these are good questions to have in the back of your mind while you plan your next move. Let’s look at some options more closely.
Working in an integrated clinic
You may find yourself working as part of a team of health professionals, including naturopaths, herbalists, acupuncturists, osteopaths, and others. This is a great opportunity to learn about other modalities and to work together on protocols that can drastically improve people’s lives.
Naturopathic clinics will often include other health professionals in order to create a support system for themselves and for their patients. This scenario might involve working together on complex cases where deeper work on dietary needs is required. For instance, you can work with patients to develop meal plans, offer recipes that suit recommendations, or you can help them understand and work around food restrictions.
Alternatively, you can simply rent the space for your own private practice. Either way, it’s an opportunity to share ideas and approaches for the ultimate benefit of your clients. A nutritionist might even consider starting in an administrative role at a naturopathic clinic; it’s a great way to learn the ins and outs of running a practice and be around like-minded professionals.
Nutrition Advisor at a gym
If you are seeking a motivated clientele with clear fitness and/or performance goals, then you could become a nutritional coach or consultant working in the fitness industry. You can work with athletes, bodybuilders, or regular folks working toward personal targets.
Here you will have access to an established clientele, and you might have the bulk of your marketing done for you. Different gyms will attract different demographics, so you will need to ensure that you resonate with the facility before settling in. You might need to learn more about protein powders, recovery aids, and other performance-oriented supplements.
Much like health-food stores, gyms provide a setting where you can meet people who may wish to work one-on-one with you. So if you are looking to build your own practice, a gym can be a great place to start.
Nutritional Consultant at a health food store
Here you will be educating customers about products and helping them choose the right form of supplementation. You might be part of a larger team that works together in a fast-paced environment, or you may be in a smaller store where you are required to perform other tasks beyond consulting.
An education in holistic nutrition is a significant asset here, but you will also be learning a lot as you go. Customers can vary from being very well-informed to complete novices; this translates to plenty of opportunities to educate and to be educated by the public. You can meet lots of people in this setting, and you can use this as a platform to connect with potential clients and build your business.
Self-employment as a Holistic nutritionist
If you are the entrepreneurial type, you can build your own business using the skills acquired in your education. You can work one-on-one with clients, be a consultant for various companies, run educational workshops, write about nutrition, or create your own unique offering.
How can holistic nutritionists make the world a better place?
You can definitely improve lives in your one-one-one practice, but you may want to take it even further. You can educate people about how dietary choices affect not only our bodies but the environment and our global community as well. Ethical choices in food consumption can better the soil, the earth, and conditions for the humans whose labour feeds us. This work might involve writing online, teaching, running workshops, or consulting for businesses that wish to engage in more ethical practices.
What is the difference between a dietitian, a nutritionist, and a holistic nutritionist?
Dietitians will typically have a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. They are members of a regulated health profession that can use designations like dietitian, registered dietitian, and registered dietitian nutritionist.
Because the profession is unregulated, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. Holistic nutritionist is not a protected title either, but certain schools have trademarked their own designations and corresponding titles.
While all of these professions work primarily with food and diet, the term holistic implies treating the person as a whole, considering the interconnection between mind, body, and spirit. Holistic nutritionists view clients as unique individuals with complex needs. Educating clients about nutrition is used as a tool to facilitate overall wellness and disease prevention.
In addition to studying diet therapeutics, holistic nutritionists will typically have acquired knowledge in complementary and alternative medicines, will be educated around supplementation, and may have studied traditional approaches to health like Ayurveda.
Before applying to any program, you will want to reach out to the school with questions, talk to current and former students, and meet with people who are currently practising. Most institutions will allow you to sit in on classes to get a sense of the experience; this is a great way to find out if it’s right for you.
Some questions to ask:
-Does the school have government accreditation?
-What are the schedule options? Will you be able to work full-time or even part-time?
-Is it in-class? Online? Do you have the option to do both?
-What resources will be available for you to obtain clinical experience? Does the school have a student clinic? Can they set you up with clinical experience in your area?
-Are there funding options? Can you get government student loans?
-How large are the classes? What is the ratio of teachers to students?
If you’re on the fence, consider starting with a few basic courses that allow you to get a sense of the material. Some schools have shorter certification programs that are designed for people who want to learn the basics to benefit themselves and their loved ones. The Holistic Nutrition Certificate at Pacific Rim College is a four-month program that has the option to transfer credits toward a Diploma of Holistic Nutrition. If you complete the certificate and feel hungry for more, you can use the courses you’ve already completed toward a more comprehensive program. This is a great way to figure out if a school is right for you before making a lengthy commitment, and if you decide to move forward, you haven’t wasted any time.
There are many options and countless ways to use and share your nutritional knowledge. The field of holistic nutrition is always growing and evolving, and so are you! No matter what your next move, there is a lifetime of learning ahead.
Written by Heather Newman
Born and raised just outside of Montreal, Heather began working in holistic health around 2003. This path eventually led to Pacific Rim College where she graduated with highest honours from the Phytotherapy program in 2016. Since then she has merged herbalism and energy work in her practice. Heather is also a writer and content editor who loves to help others improve their writing. In 2011, Heather graduated with distinction from Concordia University where she did a double major in Specialization Psychology and Linguistic Science. With over 10 years of experience in the areas of writing, editing, and holistic health, Heather is now pleased to be sharing her knowledge with others.