My clients often ask me what the difference is between a dietician and a holistic nutritionist, so I thought I would lay it out for you here. I’m going to be describing how I practice specifically and not necessarily how all holistic nutritionists practice.
What is a Registered Dietician?
An RD typically has a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in food and nutrition. They cover basic sciences such as chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, and microbiology; social science and communications; and other profession-related courses such as food science, disease specific, and food service management.
Typically they are trained to adhere to the food guide of the country they earn their degree from. This is definitely not to say that all RDs subscribe to this paradigm post-graduation, but based on the courses I took during my undergrad before I really got into studying nutrition that was the case. We were taught that aspartame was a safe and healthy food, to focus on whole-grains and dairy, and so on. There was an emphasis on the calories-in/calories-out model and not a huge emphasis on food quality or other lifestyle practices that go into creating the definition of health described by WHO, which is “a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
This description is quite generalized and based on my experience in a regular nutrition course at Acadia University several years ago and from information gleaned from the Dieticians of Canada website.
I would like to round out this description by saying, much like there are amazing doctors embracing the concepts of functional medicine, there are many fantastic RDs who are doing the same thing.
How is a Holistic Nutritionist Different?
Holistic Nutritionists often attend a 1-3 year program at a designated school where they receive a degree in applied holistic nutrition. We take courses on herbal medicine, nutrition through the lifespan, symptomatology, biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, body metabolism, Ayurvedic medicine, psychology of disease, nutrition and the environment, plus many more.
In my practice specifically I focus on keeping up to date on the latest nutrition research, while also ensuring that my suggestions make sense from an evolutionary perspective. With that in mind, when we work together we will often turn our focus to traditional preparations and practices such as fermentation, making bone broth, or sprouting/soaking grains and seeds to improve digestibility. When you work with me whole foods will win the day every single time.
I also work to shift my clients’ thinking away from conventional wisdom of all calories being created equal to the idea that certain foods such as coconut oil, broccoli, or raw cacao are going to have a much different effect on our genetic expression than processed vegetable oils, candy-masquerading-as health-food granola bars, and conventional dairy. These foods have different qualities and contain different information that will signal our genes and hormones to express in unique ways. As such your focus will shift to the quality of the food you’re consuming, not the overall quantity in terms of calories.
It’s also important to look at the quality of your food in relation to how it is grown—is it sprayed with tons of pesticides or fed antibiotics and growth hormones?—; where it comes from—did it travel 3000 km over the course of 3 days to get to your grocery store?—; the impact it has on the people who grow, ship, and sell it; and the nutrient value you get for the money you spend.
Your body is incredibly intelligent and scientists are learning more every day about the ability you have to turn specific genes on or off based on what you eat, think, drink, and how you move your body. I find this information incredibly empowering and when we work together I focus on making sure you know the power that you hold within every action that you take. You can either build health or you can build disease with every lifestyle choice you make and once you know what does what, you can create your healthiest, happiest life ever.
Holistic nutrition doesn’t just focus on the food and drink you put in your body, though it is a crucial first step on any healing journey. As holistic nutritionists we are trained to look at the way your whole life impacts your health and well-being, from the environment you live in, the cleaning products you choose to use, your spiritual and emotional intelligence, the amount of sleep you get, your average/acute stress levels, how often and to what intensity you move your booty every day, and the thoughts you think on a daily basis.
Eventually my healing journey took me into the kitchen to complete the Culinary Nutrition Expert program at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition so that I could take all the knowledge from IHN and translate it into delicious recipes, cooking classes, workshops, and demos for my clients. From there I became an avid practitioner of yoga and rounded out my education with a couple of yoga teacher trainings so that I can offer you healing practices for the body and mind.
What I aim to do when I work with my clients is to combine mindfulness, restorative yoga, nutrition, education, empowerment, and self-compassion to create individualized approaches to healing and happiness.
This concept is perhaps the most important differentiation between holistic nutritionists and registered dieticians: the belief that every single person on the planet has different biochemistry and as such will require different types and amounts of food based on their unique needs. These needs will also likely change based on age, fitness goals, season, or stress levels.
The great thing is that once you learn the foundation of eating real food and the art of listening to what your body tells you, you will have all the skills necessary to adapt and grow for the rest of your life. And that is incredibly empowering knowledge to obtain.
If you’re looking for a little extra guidance and support join my Fully Nourished Facebook Community for a behind-the-scenes look at life as a nutritionist, lots of inspiration, delicious recipes, the articles I’m reading, and connection with like-minded women. Click here to join us!
A Little Bit More About Me
I am a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Culinary Nutrition Expert with a keen interest in keeping up to date on the latest and greatest in nutrition research. I work hard to assimilate this new knowledge with time-tested, evolution-based nutrition concepts to help you achieve the boundless energy, glowing skin, and healthy body you always thought was beyond your reach.
I passionately believe that in order to get and stay well, you first must love and accept your body just as she is. Only once you treat yourself with the compassion often reserved for your loved ones will true healing take place. From that place of loving kindness I have developed scientifically sound nutrition and lifestyle programs that will help you feel vibrant, energetic, youthful, healthy, and blissed out in no time!
I have struggled with binge-eating, purging, anxiety, depression, and overall ill-health and weight gain in the past. Through years of dietary and lifestyle experimentation I have finally discovered simple and effective techniques that will help you lose the bloat, fatigue, inflammation and self-sabotage that is keeping you puffy and sick. With my guidance you too can wake up every day energized and excited to see what new adventures are coming your way
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A Few of My Favourite Things:
• Eating, cooking, and creating deliciously healthy recipes.
• Woodland and river walks
• Yoga… hot, vinyasa, indoors, outdoors, and sloth style
• Swimming, laps and leisure
• Reading, mostly nutrition, fantasy, and Aboriginal Lit.
• Sushi. All the sushi.
• Horses and riding.
• Skiing… nothing tests your boundaries, makes you confront your fears, or is more freeing than barreling head first down the side of a mountain.
Education and Certificates:
• Acadia University: Bachelor of Arts, Honours English (2004-2009)
• University of Saskatchewan: Masters of Arts in English (2009-2011)
• Institute of Holistic Nutrition: Applied Holistic Nutrition, First Class Honours (2012-2013)
• The Academy of Culinary Nutrition: Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert (2012)
• Renew Life: Digestive Care Advisor (2013)
• Enzymedica: Certified Enzyme Expert (2013)
• Josh Gitalis: Advanced Clinical Focus- Neurology & Mental Health (2015)