Nutritional Therapy Association vs. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition
Which Nutrition Coaching Program Should I Choose?
One of the questions we get all the time is “What education do you have that enables you to write books and work with clients?” Angie is a Certified Health Coach (CHC) through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) as well as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Similarly, Mickey is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Since we have experience with both of these certifications, we are frequently asked to compare the programs.
The truth is, both of these programs are accessible, affordable, and useful for starting a career in health coaching, which is why so many people are interested in them. We thought we’d break down the details for those of you who are trying to choose between these two schools.
Why is this new career field important?
The big answer to this question is obvious. Our world is sick! Millions and millions of people across the globe are chronically ill with diseases that could largely be prevented or relatively easily reversed just by making dietary and lifestyle adjustments. Invasive testing, expensive treatments, and drugs with debilitating (if not life threatening!) side-effects are often unnecessary, if people are taught how to proactively care for their health and wellbeing. The problem is that our medical system is not set up to respond to these issues and our physicians are usually not educated on this information. If they are aware, they find themselves victims of a less than ideal system too, squeezed into time slots that don’t allow them to partner with their patients through a dietary and lifestyle transition to wellness.
The good news is that change is happening quickly. Even doctors with long careers and valuable perspective, such as Dr. Terry Wahls, are saying that change is happening at a “breathtaking speed.” Dr. Wahls feels this is largely due to health coaches, nutritional therapists, and other like-minded health professionals using their social media voices to collectively shift how healthcare is approached. The future of healthcare will be about those who are most able to effectively deliver the message to the many people who need it. Those people are coaches! We can achieve this objective, because our training programs are narrowly focused, affordable, and require realistic time commitments. While the high-level training of those in the medical field will always be necessary and extremely crucial, those of us able to quickly teach others how to successfully “fill in the gaps” of their healthcare with diet and lifestyle changes are going to transform the landscape.
You can be a part of this revolutionary shift too!
Maybe you just want to heal your own body, or help your family get healthier? Or maybe you want to work in your community, helping others find solutions in your spare time. You could make it a full-time career, seeing clients and bridging the gap between their doctor’s offices and their real lives. Or you could be on the forefront of the revolution, writing books and spreading the message far and wide. Any reason to get started or niche you are interested in exploring is worthy of this important new job. Our sick society needs your passion!
Why do we only comment on the programs we’ve been in?
We only have personal experience with the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), despite there being many other holistic nutrition programs out there. Our observation is that other programs available seem to require much greater financial and time commitments, or are small and unknown. We feel that the two programs detailed here are an accessible start to launching your initial health coaching career, while providing a foundation for greater learning.
Below, we’ve detailed some of the positives we found going through each of the programs:
Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s CHC Program
X Surveys over 100 dietary theories. If you are brand new to the role of diet in health, IIN equips you with a look at almost all the varied ways that groups all over the planet approach the intersection of food and well-being.
X Provides expert guest instructors. The opportunity to learn from some of the leaders in the health and wellness field gives students deeper insight into how these people have transformed others lives and had a powerful impact.
X Depth of education on sound business practices. The program places an emphasis on learning everything from practical steps like keeping good financial records to how to set-up a practice structure to marketing. IIN recognizes health coaches cannot make an impact without being able to make a living.
X Appropriate for those who need a flexible/attainable program. IIN offers a course of study that is spread over an entire year, making it a truly part-time educational option for those who need to carefully manage their time. In addition, the digital classroom environment allows maximum accessibility.
X Supported by an organization that is committed to a health revolution. IIN has a very clear mission “to play a crucial role in improving health and happiness, and through that process, create a ripple effect that transforms the world.” They do this by bringing coaches together for large conferences, charitable giving to other organizations that support health and wellness, and legislative efforts.
Nutritional Therapy Association’s NTP Program
X Based on ancestral nutrition. The Nutritional Therapy Association is based in real-food, ancestral nutrition, and aligns perfectly with Weston A. Price, Paleo, and Primal principles. If you are passionate about real food nutrition, NTA is likely to align very closely to your values.
X Depth of education about nutrients, digestion, and supplements is extensive. These programs place a large focus on learning about different nutrients, their synergy, how the body systems work together, and supplementation.
X Provides a solid foundation for further exploration. Students are capable of going on to study about more complex functional medicine topics after completing these programs.
X Offers coaching on how to work one-on-one with clients as well as how to start a business. During the program students get ample practice working with clients and spend some time planning their future business.
X Encourages making an impact on the community. These programs require students to think outside the box and develop projects that make an impact.
X Supported by an organization that is committed to changing our country’s dietary model. The Nutritional Therapy Association works to bring practitioners together through conferences and community events. By becoming an NTP, you are connected to a tight-knit group of practitioners who are encouraging, supportive of each other’s work, and enjoy sharing their successes and discoveries.
X Possibility of board certification. Those who graduate from the NTP program may sit for the National Association of Nutrition Professionals board exam to become board certified.
Why do we recommend NTA as a starting point?
Mickey has been working with clients as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) through the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) for seven years. Angie has been working with clients as a Certified Health Coach (CHC) through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) for three years. Angie completed her education as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) through NTA three years ago. Based on our experience working with clients and Angie’s experience in both programs, we have drawn the following conclusions about program comparison.
X NTA provides a true real-foods education as opposed to a survey of many dietary approaches. While IIN does cover Paleo/Primal nutrition as a part of their curriculum, their student and teaching body tends to lean more towards vegetarianism. If you believe in a real-foods, ancestral approach, you may find your learning time wasted on dietary theories that don’t line up to your beliefs.
X NTA provides a much greater depth of education about nutrition, how the body functions, and supplementation. While IIN educates on many different dietary approaches, NTA educates on nutrients, their synergy, how they function within the body, and how nutritional supplementation affects these processes.
X NTA’s program is shorter and more affordable. IIN’s program is longer and more expensive, although the time spent on a week-to-week basis feels less than NTA. This is due to the density of the NTA curriculum.
X NTA provides an opportunity for board certification. Once you graduate from NTA, you are able to sit for the NANP board certification, while IIN’s program does not qualify.
X NTA enables you to practice at a greater depth with one-on-one clients. IIN’s program focuses more on goal achievement, the coach-client relationship, and individual tailoring instead of nutritional support. NOTE: Always check out the laws on practicing in your state, detailed many times in this post.
X NTPs are considered “nutritionists” in some states. IIN graduates have much greater restrictions in how they can talk about and market their practice, and can only use the term “health coach” (“certified health coach” if a student gains paid membership after graduation). NOTE: You’ll want to check out your state’s laws to find out how you can market yourself or if you can even practice at all. Every state has different laws, and be aware that they are constantly changing!
What do we gain from our recommendation?
Because of the influx of people interested in holistic nutrition education, these providers are marketing heavily and offer bonuses for referring students. We thought the honest thing to do would be to let you know what their referral fee is and what we stand to gain from the relationship. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition gives us up to $1000 per referral, while the Nutritional Therapy Association gives us $300. Our recommendation is based on our perspectives as students of either program, not on what we stand to gain from the referrals.
If you do decide to embark on your nutrition education with the Nutritional Therapy Association, please tell them Angie Alt + Mickey Trescott sent you!
Things to know before you start your nutrition education:
X Education only provides a foundation. While your mind will be blown by all of the life-changing information you come home with, you won’t graduate any of these programs knowing everything you need to know to be a good practitioner. Further education in the form of conferences, seminars, reading books, and good old fashioned experience are what will take your practice to the next level. Be patient and diligent!
X Pick a specialty or a niche. While health coaches are not able to work with specific diseases or medical conditions, you can choose to work with certain populations, like children, pre-natal, the elderly, or the chronically ill. Focusing your continuing education and experience in one area will make you a more effective practitioner.
X Find out the legality of practicing in your state. This should be the first step before you consider any nutrition program. This map from the Center for Nutrition Advocacy can help you find out what kind of certification and scope of practice is legal in your state. This is of extreme importance, as it is illegal to practice as a health coach in many states. In others, you must work under a licensed practitioner.
X Consider “adding on” to another career. Many practitioners are incredibly successful when they combine health coaching or nutrition education with a related career. Maybe you are a chef, yoga teacher, pilates instructor, massage therapist, farmer, restaurant owner, school program administrator, therapist or a social worker? Any of these careers can benefit from the training you will receive.
X Starting a business is hard. Before you embark on the journey of working for yourself, make sure you consider all of the aspects and duties that will come along with your new career. If managing your own schedule, accounting, and marketing sound difficult, you might want to explore the option of working for a practice or under another practitioner (although in all honestly, these situations can be hard to come by!).
X Be aware that the time commitment can be extreme. It is not unusual in the first 1-5 years of starting your own business to work greater than 40 hours a week. Although we have managed to create successful careers with both coaching and writing books, it has been difficult not to let the demanding work schedule take a toll on our health. On the flipside, starting a business can be a slower, more phased approach, but you are unlikely to get results without effort. The reality is that we get out of bed fired up and ready to do this kind of work every single day. If you don’t feel similarly, this might not be the career for you.
If you’d like to learn more, check out the recording of our webinar, So You Want to be a Health Coach?