(Written by Raina Dawn Lutz, R.H.N.)
The Natural Nutrition Program prepares holistic nutrition professionals in a very practical way for complementary health care by counselling individual clients as well as through community education. The connection between body, mind and spirit is an integral and important part of these studies. It is scientifically demonstrated that our state of mind and spiritual well-being affect our physical health. The study of this well-established phenomenon is not linked to any religious creed. It is purely academic and aims to enlighten in a broad way about the effects of life experiences and circumstances, on health.
The Natural Nutrition Program consists of courses covering natural nutrition relevant to each stage of life, as well as sciences and research in nutrition. It provides a strong foundation for a career in the complementary health industry. But there are some misconceptions that you may be familiar with.
What people think we do: Make you eat only goji berries, green drinks, herbs, barks & roots.
What we actually do: Encourage clients to move towards a whole foods diet that encourages the maximum benefit for their body. This means more fresh foods, whole grains and less processed foods. Depending on what they are dealing with, certain “super foods” or high-quality supplements may be necessary for some time as an addition for specific ailments, but definitely won’t be given as a first recommendation if the client is still eating a “traditional North American diet” high in processed foods, microwaved meals, fast food, packaged goods, candy, pop, etc. We work with where the client is at, and move at a pace that the client is comfortable with, adding foods and making changes as we work along together with the end goal being a body in better harmony.
We also believe that the best ‘super foods’ are simply real foods, like broccoli, apples or blueberries. We don’t force a specific style of eating on anyone*, and we educate and encourage clients to eat more nourishing foods like fruits & vegetables.
*Some Holistic Nutritionists’ can be vegan, vegetarian, paleo, etc, but not all Holistic Nutritionists are.
I believe strongly that we need flexibility in our diet, and if we just eat real food we do not need to label the way we eat. If we all just ate real food based on our bodies’ needs (once we learn them) things would be a whole lot easier, and clients could remove themselves from the chains of a diet mindset.
What people think we do: Put everyone on an intense cleanse, a “colon blow”- if you will.
What we actually do: Assess nutritional needs. At their request or if we have been working together for awhile, we’ll assess whether or not its appropriate for the client to go on a cleanse at that time. They are not for everyone and it’s not for every time of year. It depends on many factors including whether or not the body is prepared for it, the type of lifestyle the client currently has and whether their liver needs a gentle boost or a bigger cleanse.
For safety, it is vital that we know medications/lifestyle of the client before making this type of recommendation. Do no harm. Again for safety, our cleanses are mainly done with food rather than herbs or supplements*. We like to work with food, that’s what we are trained in. Food is a better sense of cleansing for the body than any supplement that “cleans you out.” Again, cleansing can be therapeutic but it is best done with food.
**I believe strongly that supplements are not necessary for long term, and should be used short term only to bring balance to a deficiency, but it is not our strong point: our strong point is food.
I believe strongly that finding the root of issues using FOOD can move people away from the luggage of the supplement aisle.
What people think we do: Sell you (numerous) expensive supplements.
What we actually do: We work with food, and don’t work with medications or herbs. (Not an herbalist.) We help you find which nutrients may show as deficiencies from certain medications, and that is all. From time to time we can recommend certain gentle herbs for teas, but it will always be followed by “please check with your doctor/naturopath/herbalist/the package for directions on usage.” We are not doctors. We do NOT diagnose a thing.
From time to time, we recommend high quality brands of supplements, but only from our own personal collection and personal experience based on quality for price, aligning with the client’s budget. Food is our focus. We work with food.
What people think we do: Chant around our clients with fairy wands full of magical herbs to balance their energy.
What we actually do: Teach, educate, hold space. Yes, I’ve actually had people ask me if I dance around people with special wands. The word “Holistic” can really throw some folks off! Some clients have been nervous for the first meeting, conjuring up images in their imaginations about what exactly it is we do and what the session will be like. A meeting is simply a conversation. Holistic to me means that we look at the WHOLE person, not just their diet but their emotional balance, lifestyle, genes/family history, fitness levels, nicotine/drug/alcohol use, sleep habits, work/career, family life and much more. It’s tailored for the client.
It also means we can let the client guide the session based on what they need at that time. This means if our intuition tells us something is up, we might ask the client if we should look more deeply to that area. If we hit a wall, we can ask the client “What can I do to support you best right now? What can I do/can we talk about right now that will help you?” This makes the session more tailored for the client.
In my experience, client guided sessions makes folks feel like they get the most of the session. It also allows me to serve the person in front of me better. Groovy, things just got better for everyone!
Holistic can also be written as Wholistic, which gives a better indication of the style of consulting and our food choices as a whole. (See what I did there?!)
What people think we do: Fix people’s bad eating habits. In the blink of an eye.
What we actually do: Allow people time to learn that bad habits take time to form, and new habits can take lots of time to stick. We help clients to find their strength, wisdom and intuition within their own bodies, giving them the tools to make better food choices for their own health and not for anyone else. This empowerment sets them up for the best success possible. We sprinkle magical juice called “accountability” and “self development” that helps to move the clients forward with their goals. We are coaches who teach people a new level of responsibility and how they move through the world, and we lead through example.
Raina Dawn Lutz, R.H.N. is in her eighth year of private practice in the Okanagan Valley, founded the Okanagan’s original local kombucha, co-hosts a podcast and travels through BC working online, volunteering for Slow Food Canada and warmly welcoming all new RHN’s to the “club!” Send her a funny email at www.LutzNutrition.ca