Nutrition and Nurse Coaching
As nurses, we know that our lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on our well-being and quality of life. But as Nurse Coaches, we actually get to teach our patients how to harness these methods and achieve their goals for a healthier and happier life.
The truth is that nutrition is a highly overlooked area. At my last doctor’s appointment, I remember the provider asked me only one question about nutrition. He said, “You eating pretty good?” That was it. I had to laugh inside because of how insanely useless this question was, but at the same time, I understand where he’s coming from.
See, most practitioners don’t pry too deeply into nutrition because they really don’t know how to support people in this area. After all, most medical doctors only receive about 16 hours total in nutrition education.
But as Nurse Coaches, we know that everything your patients do, from the hours they sleep to the food they put into their bodies, plays a vital role in their health and longevity. And thus, these all need to be part of your Nurse Coach practice. So today, let’s discuss how Nurse Coaching and nutrition can work together to benefit your clients.
What is Nutrition Science?
It’s no secret that many of today’s foods are highly processed, lacking the vital nutrients our bodies need for peak performance. Nutrition science focuses on issues surrounding food and health, helping us understand how the meals we eat impact our overall well-being — for better or worse.
Like all the sciences, nutrition science is constantly evolving as we learn new information about how our food affects our bodies. And with so many “gurus” out there who have conflicting opinions about what’s best, most people are faced with some real confusion and some flawed nutritional advice (looking at you, food pyramid).
As a result, the sad truth is that many people simply don’t know how to eat healthily. Sure, they know they should avoid things like cookies and soda, but creating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is surprisingly hard for far too many.
Even now, the messaging around healthy eating looks to be shifting once again. For instance, The EAT-Lancet Commission 2020 report stated that “transformation to healthy diets by 2050 will require substantial dietary shifts,” with a greater focus on plant-based nutrition.
So, as a Nurse Coach, you can help your clients navigate the changes in nutrition science so they’re always giving their bodies the very best. And, you can work closely with your clients to help them create a plan that will truly be sustainable for them.
Is a Nurse Coach a Nutritionist?
In a word: No.
A nutritionist is a medical professional who focuses entirely on their patient’s diet and how it is impacting their health. A nutritionist can design meal programs to accommodate a patient’s health needs, offer advice for losing weight or improving dietary habits, and create educational programs to inform the public about healthy nutritional choices.
Some nutritionists also take on the role of nutrition nurses. These professionals do many of the same tasks as nutritionists, but they’re also responsible for nursing duties. For example, nutrition nurses are the ones responsible for managing enteral nutrition for patients on feeding tubes.
This total focus on nutrition is one key way that the work of a nutrition nurse differs from us Nurse Coaches. For a nutrition nurse, a patient’s diet is the main area to examine or change during treatment. While Nurse Coaches do look at nutrition when working with a client, it is just one facet of many that can impact a person’s health. As a Nurse Coach, your job is to combine nursing, nutrition, and countless other holistic wellness modalities to help your clients reach their goals.
The Role of Nutrition in Nurse Coaching
How can we Nurse Coaches use nutrition to help our clients achieve greater wellness? Easy: By educating our patients on the most up-to-date nutrition science and supporting them to leverage their nutritional decisions to meet their health goals.
We’ve seen Nurse Coaches help their clients to lose weight, reverse disease, lower blood pressure, reduce the need for medications, and so much more — all by coaching them around nutrition.
And why do we see such incredible results? Because we coach our clients around nutrition and leave them feeling empowered to make healthier choices. We don’t simply give them a meal plan or tell them what to do because that strategy doesn’t work. People don’t want to eat a meal plan that doesn’t make sense to them, full of foods they don’t even like. Instead, Nurse Coaches work with our patients to make healthier choices every single day. Remember, we Nurse Coaches aren’t here to do the work for our patients. We are the guides, educators, and ongoing support system.
Integrating Nutrition into Your Nurse Coaching
What does it mean to combine nursing and nutrition in your Nurse Coach practice effectively? We start by taking a look at our clients’ current diets.
Do they subscribe to a certain dietary lifestyle (Keto, Paleo, etc.)? What do they typically eat in a day? And are they on any medications that may impact their nutritional needs? (This is where your nursing training really comes in handy, and it’s why many layperson health coaches are not licensed to have conversations around nutrition.)
Once you have a clear understanding of your clients’ nutrition at the moment, you can begin to ask them about their health goals. Do they want to get off certain medications? Do they want to lose weight? Do they want to feel calmer throughout the day? You can help your clients create realistic goals that will have major impacts on their lives. Of course, you’re not just figuring out what their goals are, but as a Nurse Coach, you’re also digging deeper to find out why each of these goals is so important to them.
Then comes the fun part: We get to marry nutrition and Nurse Coaching. As Nurse Coaches, we’re able to coach our clients around their diets in ways that will help them toward their goals. Remember, this is all about mentorship and guidance. You aren’t necessarily making a diet plan for them to follow, but offering your wisdom and knowledge so they can make the most informed and healthy decisions possible.
How Does TNCCP Prepare You to Tackle Nutrition in Your Nurse Coaching?
When we created the Transformative Nurse Coach Certificate Program, we knew that we had to prepare our students for everything. After all, Nurse Coaching is a comprehensive field of healthcare, which means Nurse Coaches need to have extensive knowledge not only in the science of coaching and mentorship but also in each and every area of lifestyle: exercise, sleep, stress management, mindfulness, relationships, and of course, nutrition.
As a result, we developed a thorough, comprehensive course that teaches you the skills you need to be a well-rounded Nurse Coach. We take a deep dive into nutritional science and tease apart what the most up-to-date research shows is most beneficial for promoting health, preventing disease, and reversing chronic conditions.
But we don’t only teach you about nutrition. More importantly, we teach you how to coach your clients around the topic of nutrition and to actually help someone be successful in making changes in their diet and sticking with them. And, as an added bonus, we help you to apply everything you learn to your OWN life, meaning that many of the nurses we’ve worked with have also experienced weight loss and improved health in their own lives, too.
With the help of this program, you’ll be able to earn your national Nurse Coach board certification and change both your life and the lives of everyone you coach.
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