Holistic nutrition is based on the belief that nutrition can be used to treat the whole individual, rather than just focusing on individual symptoms. As Americans become more health conscious, we are recognizing the vital role that nutrition plays in maintaining wellness. Careers incorporating the practice of holistic nutrition are increasingly common. Holistic nutritionists counselors, nutritional educators and even herbalists are becoming an accepted part of the health care community.
What Is Holistic Nutrition?
Holistic nutrition refers to the use and combination of food and nutrients as a preventive health measure or as a means to obtain optimum health benefits. Through the use of whole foods and organics, and the avoidance of genetically engineered food or additives, holistic nutritionists help others to develop diets and lifestyles that fit the holistic concept. Holistic nutrition practitioners have a variety of career options.
Many nutritional counselors, or nutritionists, integrate concepts of holistic nutrition into their practice. Nutritional counselors work in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities where they work with patients to assess their nutritional needs and develop dietary programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nutritionists earned mean annual salaries of $50,590 as of May 2008.
Herbalists specialize in the use of plants and herbs for the prevention and treatment of disease. Some herbalists work as primary health care providers, while others work in conjunction with other health practitioners. Herbalists develop dietary programs that incorporate herbs and herbal supplements based on an individual’s health needs. According to the American Herbalist Guild, salaries can range from $20,000 to $120,000 annually.
Nutrition educators, or health educators, may also incorporate holistic nutrition into their teaching. Nutrition educators work for schools, public health agencies, private industries and nonprofit organization where they develop programs to educate the public about nutrition and general health and wellness. The BLS reports annual mean salaries for health educators at $48,590 as of May 2008.
Education and Training
Education and training for holistic nutrition careers vary widely. There are many certificate programs, offered both online and through educational institutions, in the area of holistic nutrition. General nutrition degree programs, such as a bachelor of science in food and nutrition, are offered by many college and universities. Students may even select to pursue a doctorate degree in naturopathic medicine. The majority of states require some form of licensing to practice as a nutritionist. Employers of nutrition educators tend to prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees, however there are no formal requirements. Education requirements for herbalists are not regulated. However, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission both play a role in regulating the herbal industry.
The BLS predicts job growth for nutritionists and health educators through the year 2016. An increased public interest in good nutrition as well as natural, holistic approaches to health, may fuel the demand for those interested in careers in holistic nutrition. Health insurance companies, as well as health providers, are realizing the benefits of health and wellness education programs in preventing serious disease and illness. Holistic nutrition is often a component of these programs.