“Health is a state of body. Wellness is a state of being.”
Hi, I’m Lisha and I’m a Wellness Nutritionist! You may be wondering what that title means and how I help others. Do I simply teach people how to eat well? Do I only eat plants and practice yoga? Do I promote one way of living for everyone? I purposefully chose these two words to describe what I do and am excited to share with you their significance and how they flavor my approach in treatment.
A Nutritionist is defined as “a person who studies or is an expert in nutrition.” Being an expert in nutrition means being proficient in understanding “the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.” Proper nutrition goes above simply consuming foods to sustain existence, it optimizes survival and overall functioning, on every level. Nutritionists specialize in knowing the intricacies of diet and its impact on human biology and physiology.
While I choose to identify as a Wellness Nutritionist, I am technically a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) and I’d like to explain the difference.
To become a Registered Dietitian you must:
- Earn a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, with courses focused on nutritional science, chemistry (my favorite – heavy sarcasm), human biology and physiology, disease pathology, medical nutrition therapy, and more!
- Complete a 1,200 hour internship in various settings such as – inpatient acute care, outpatient facilities, community work, food service management, sports nutrition, private practice, etc.
- Successfully pass the R.D. examination after which the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) grants those well-deserved credentials.
- Fulfill continuing education to keep those hard-earned credentials alive and kicking.
The term Nutritionist on the other hand, is not regulated. Anyone may call themselves a “Nutritionist” with or without formal education, credentials, a regulation process, etc. When placing your health into someone else’s hands, it is crucial that you trust them and the information, guidance, and counseling they provide. There are so many people claiming to be “authorities” in this field, in addition to the overwhelming amount of poor, misguided, and even harmful information floating around, it pays to be cautious.
(Side note: R.D.s can choose to have their credentials listed as R.D.N. – Registered Dietitian Nutritionists – to further help clarify what they practice).
To be clear, I am not implying you need a formal degree to be knowledgeable in nutrition, but as a patient/client you can take comfort seeing “R.D.” behind a person’s name. Those two letters imply that the person’s minimum understanding of nutrition and health is sound and well-rounded enough to legally practice in a variety of settings. The point? You owe it to yourself to be overly picky when selecting a person to guide you with changes in your diet and lifestyle. Your decision could mean the difference between lasting health or suffering through yet another fad diet.
The second word in my title is wellness, which is “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.” This implies that it is a process, not a destination. You cannot simply achieve wellness and then stop those practices and expect your health to remain stellar. Wellness is a habit, a skill, a persistent objective that should be sought after daily. It is an all-encompassing process that requires more than the right information and self-discipline. Skillful guidance and accountability are essential for the creation and continuation of permanent, healthy habits. I desire for my clients’ efforts to be concentrated on joyfully pursing an optimized state of balance between the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states.
Another reason I emphasize wellness is because it can lead to developing resilience. Resiliency is a blend of strength and flexibility; meaning you can bounce back from anything you encounter – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Chances are that if you are a living, breathing human, life has thrown a few curve-balls regarding your health. Wouldn’t resiliency be a great attribute to possess to combat the unexpected twists and turns of life? Everyone’s wellness journey is unique and looks different, however the byproduct is almost always a growth in personal resilience.
Nutrition and wellness are multifaceted, constantly evolving, and dynamic fields. I have an earnest drive and genuinely enjoy assisting others in obtaining their own state of well-being through the way they eat, behave, think, and live. It’s a challenging yet infinitely-rewarding career that I’m thrilled to say it is my life-calling. My hope is that you now better understand what a Wellness Nutritionist is and how I personally treat and promote healing for each beautifully, complex individual. Don’t wait another day, enjoy life to its fullest by starting your own path to a better and more vibrant YOU today.