Undergraduate certificate programs in holistic nutrition can prepare students for careers as dietary counselors or wellness educators. These programs are open to individuals with a high school diploma or GED certificate and consist of just a few courses. Some programs are available through online study. Courses may cover topics such as the basic food groups and types of foods, as well as holistic topics such as phytochemicals, raw foods, and juice therapy.
In a 2-year associate's degree program in holistic nutrition, students complete general education courses such as English composition, mathematics, and psychology. They also may learn about topics that could be helpful if they open their own dietary practices, such as marketing and business management. Core dietary courses may include meal planning and herbs in the diet.
Bachelor's degree programs may prepare graduates to become registered dietitians. They include general education courses and often have special requirements in chemistry and biology. Courses cover topics such as dietary planning, the diet and aging and how illnesses are influenced by nutrition. Students can often choose an area in which to specialize. At least one U.S. school offers a program focusing on holistic nutrition. A high school diploma or GED and coursework in biology, mathematics, communications and chemistry may be required for entry onto each program.
Undergraduate Certificates Covering Holistic Nutrition
A student in a holistic nutrition certificate program learns about the relationships that the components of food have with the human body. Students might learn how nutrition is an important factor in fitness and sports performance as well as how food is interrelated with politics and economics.
Students are trained for careers in counseling; they learn how to encourage others to make dietary modifications that promote health and prevent disease. Programs typically take less than one year to complete. Applicants may need to attend an interview for admission to be considered. Budding holistic nutritionists learn about topics like specific food combinations, the acid alkaline balance, food preparation and fasting. Other material covered in these types of programs includes:
- Nutritional biochemistry
- Business skills
- Cultural diversity in health
Associate Degree in Holistic Nutrition
Associate-level programs might have official names like applied nutrition, holistic healthcare, or nutrition, fitness, and health. Programs may result in Associate of Science or Associate of Occupational Science degrees. Students in holistic nutrition programs learn how nutrition affects an individual's physical, spiritual, and environmental health.
Training might include instruction in selecting and preparing foods, crafting diet plans for vegetarians or pregnant women, incorporating exercise into a healthy lifestyle, and treating eating disorders. Students learn to coach clients to use nutrition to promote health, prevent disease, reduce medication use, and benefit the earth. Holistic nutrition courses cover a variety of matters, ranging from biological topics like anatomy and physiology to psychological issues such as stress management. Students may enroll in classes that cover subjects like:
- Nutritional counseling
- Weight management
- Growing food
- Whole foods
- Sports nutrition
- Herbal sciences
Bachelor's Degrees in Nutrition and Dietetics
Students in such programs receive training that can prepare them to become professionals in the field. They may earn Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Health Science degrees. Programs often include the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), a set of courses that individuals aspiring to become registered dietitians must complete. Students commonly must be admitted to a bachelor's degree program prior to applying to the DPD program. Students learn about food science, food industries, and the nutritional needs of various populations throughout their lifespan. They often receive instruction regarding common health problems related to nutrition and are trained to help patients combat obesity, decrease their risk of high blood pressure, and limit inflammation.
Students can concentrate on a few different avenues of this field. They might focus on clinical dietetics and receive training in nutritional medical therapy, or they may concentrate on community dietetics and learn to work with individuals, families, and nutrition organizations to promote health within a city. Students might also focus on the management aspects of nutrition and learn to oversee food planning in various institutions.
Bastyr University, in Kenmore, WA, offers prospective dietitians a more holistic education. This school's program concentrates on topics like the promotion of environmental health and sustainability through proper eating habits. The program also requires students to take interdisciplinary courses regarding the natural health arts and sciences. Students take foundation courses in biology and chemistry before delving into advanced nutrition topics. These types of programs often include instruction in the following subject matter:
- Life cycle nutrition
- Food safety and risks
- Vitamins and minerals
- Community nutrition
- Food preparation
- Food, society and culture
Popular Career Options
Graduates from associate degree programs generally have attained substantial knowledge regarding the many aspects of nutrition and how nutrition relates to other subjects. They might apply their knowledge to positions such as:
- Holistic nutrition educator
- Holistic nutrition counselor
- Environmental activist focused on food and nutrition
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of dietitians and nutritionists was expected to grow 16% from 2014-2024. According to the May 2015 BLS statistics, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $57,910 (www.bls.gov).
Sitting for the holistic nutritionist certification test requires that an applicant meets the educational standards set by the NANP, or the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (www.nanp.org). Applicants must be professional members of the NANP and document at least 500 hours of professional holistic nutrition experience. Recent graduates from approved programs are allowed to complete their 500 professional hours within the first two years after sitting for the certification exam.
To work as a dietitian or nutritionist, one must become licensed, certified, or registered by the state where he or she lives; requirements vary by state. To become certified by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) as a registered dietitian (RD), one must finish a DPD, complete an approved dietetic practicum, and pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians (www.eatright.org). Once certification has been earned, dietitians are required to complete a certain amount of continuing professional education requirements in order to maintain RD status.
Individuals interested in further continuing their education are able to study aspects of nutrition and dietetics, such as holistic nutrition or holistic health education, at the graduate certificate, master's, and doctoral levels.
In summary, the level of training required to work in the holistic nutrition field depends on one's career goals and can span from an undergraduate certificate to bachelor's degree. With a certificate or an associate degree individuals can pursue work as a holistic nutrition educator or counselor, while bachelor's degree program graduates can complete an internship and secure certification to become a dietician.