Have you ever received diet advice you knew was sort of…off? Or perhaps got wrangled into trying an only-air-and-bacon summer body meal plan with promises of big change with only a few weeks buy-in? Red flag alert: there are all kinds of extreme eating plans and celery juice gurus who will sell you a way-too-shiny promise for a small (but usually expensive) commitment on your part…and they’re all set up to fail.
If you are looking for some guidance around food, for long-lasting change, to actually FEEL GOOD while you progress toward your goal, do yourself a favour and look beyond six-week transformations and the ‘ripped abs in 10 days’ crap. That, my friends, is not good nutrition coaching. It’s diet culture bullshit.
So if my air and bacon diet is bad nutrition coaching, what is a good nutrition coach?
Nutrition coaches come with all kinds of experience, credentials and coaching styles, so it’s worth considering what kind of support feels best as you venture out to find a good fit. Their certificate(s), while important, sure, might not be the best way to judge that, either.
When you set out to find a coach, avoid those that align themselves too closely with fad diets and templated eating plans – good nutrition coaching should be entirely personalized and evidence-based. There are a lot of paths to get to a goal and the best one for you is the one you can stick to while enjoying your life. If it feels good, we’ll stay consistent. And if we’re consistent long enough, that goal is as good as yours.
A good nutrition coach will help you find your unique path to your goal. By going beyond quick fixes and pre-made plans, your nutrition coach will be able to help you eat better without feeling deprived, ditch unnecessary food rules, wade through all of the conflicting diet ‘advice’ out there and support you to achieve and then *maintain* your goals over the long-term.
A good nutrition coach will know (and remind you, when the diet culture creeps in) that extreme approaches, and ones that don’t feel good in your body, will not only not get you to your goals, it can actually take you further away from them by wreaking havoc on your hormones, metabolism and mental wellness.
If there is no one path, shouldn’t I be able to do that on my own?
In theory, yes. You were born knowing what your body needs and you are undeniably the best authority on it. In fact, if a coach ever tells you otherwise, that’s another big, big red flag. That said, though, a lot of stuff can come up over the course of our lives, internally and externally, that makes us lose sight of our internal compass.
Messages of inadequacy are everywhere because they are a great tool to sell you all sorts of shit that drives a wedge between what your body needs and what you think it needs. Mixed with purposely confusing food myths and recycled diet schemes, they take their toll on your ability to listen and know how to respond to your body. For most folks, there’s a lot to unlearn—essentially, all of the diet messaging you’ve ever heard—before you can trust your own instincts again AND get to that goal at the same time. Let’s face it; if left to your own devices, you probably wouldn’t have tried that three-day juice cleanse in the first place. It doesn’t feel good.
As you can see, ‘intuitive’ is not as simple as it should be. But getting back to it is possible, and a nutrition coach can help. A good nutrition coach is someone on your team who will be a sounding board as you wade through your relationship with food. They’ll provide accountability when life gets hard and busy. They are someone to brainstorm solutions and best-way-forwards with, and a voice to cut through the diet culture bullshit with actual science when it’s necessary. Your coach will be your guide back to what feels good, and works, for you.
What to look for in a coach?
Choosing a nutrition coach is a highly personal choice; they are someone you’ll work pretty intimately with over some time, after all. That said, we like to think that there are a couple of foundational guidelines no matter what kind of coaching style works for you.
- Look for someone who will work with you as a teammate; YOUR perspective and intuition are critical to the process. Sure, your coach will probably know more about the science, but they need to trust you as the authority on your body and consider the science in the context of YOUR reality and goals. If you find someone who talks to you like they know more about you than you do, it may not be a good fit.
- Choose someone offering more than just a 6 or 8-week plan. This is tough, I know – committing to longer-term investments can be nerve-wracking – but short term commitment won’t lead to long term results. Someone who has your best interests at heart will be dedicated to building something strong and totally personalized from the ground up so that your results will last.
- If you are facing any particular challenges related to diet culture, have faced stigma related to food and your body, or have a history of disordered eating patterns, ask your coach if they have some background or experience with it themselves – personally or professionally. This stuff can get messy, and you want to trust that you’ve got support through that.
It all comes down to what serves YOU.
We want this to be an investment in getting those goals FOR GOOD, so working with someone who’ll help you build a lifestyle change you feel good doing and good about – and can continue with long after your coaching journey comes to an end – should be at the top of that list.
If nutrition coaching sounds like something you could benefit from, reach out! We can touch base to see if we’re a good fit & talk about how we can build a personalized nutrition plan that helps you feel great and reach your goals while you do it!