The Health Coach Approach

It’s Health Coach Week (January 11th to 17th), so I wanted to share some tidbits with you on what makes the health coach approach to health and healing different.

The main role of health coaches is to bridge the gap between doctors and patients. Doctors rarely have the time, resources, or training to help patients build healthy lifestyle habits, yet building healthy habits is essential to health.

Here are some interesting statistics compiled by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (where I studied to become a certified health coach in 2009):

  • 67% of Americans are overweight or obese
  • Less than 3% of doctor visits are spent discussing nutrition
  • 70% of deaths are caused by chronic illness each year
  • 1 in 3 adults worldwide have high blood pressure
  • $2.3 trillion is spent on healthcare, yet only 2% goes towards prevention

Before I went back to school to get my MS in Human Nutrition and my RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) credential, I worked with clients as a health coach in an integrative medicine practice with a medical doctor, chiropractors, and a massage therapist. My clients amazed me with their motivation, curiosity, resilience, and desire to achieve their goals for their health. When I went back to grad school for nutrition, I learned what conventional nutrition practitioners are taught and that the health coach approach to nutrition is nothing short of magical.

So, what makes the health coach approach to nutrition so different? The health coach approach. . .

  • focuses on the client’s goals, needs, and strengths vs. a predetermined agenda for the conversation.
  • treats the client as the expert vs. the practitioner as the expert with all of the answers.
  • empowers the client to take control of their health vs. the practitioner feeling responsible for the client’s health.
  • takes a holistic approach and aspects like relationships, exercise, career, and spirituality into the process vs. focusing only on food and nutrition.
  • partners with the client to facilitate change and co-create solutions vs. just giving advice on what to do.
  • asks open ended questions and encourages the client to share their story vs. asking closed ended questions and interrupting if off topic.
  • focuses on the journey and the process vs. focusing only on the destination.

As an Integrative Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Certified Health Coach, I combine integrative and functional medicine with traditional nutrition wisdom to support clients using the health coach approach. If you’re interested in working with me, you can learn more about the services I offer here:

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a health coach so you help change the world by supporting clients to build and maintain healthy habits, get in touch and let me know how I can help:

Erin Harner

Erin Harner is an Integrative Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), author, and speaker based in Ithaca, NY. Erin melds functional medicine and culinary nutrition to help her clients uncover their unique diet and confidently cook healthy nourishing meals that meet the needs of their whole family. Learn about Erin's services and connect on Instagram.

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