Nutritional counseling covers a wide range of assessments and philosophies regarding the quality of nutrition in a diet. Nutritionists offer education in nutritional facts, eating habits, nutrients, allergies, and weight loss. They work with individuals to develop dietary patterns that suits their lifestyle as well as their needs.
There are several therapies that include nutritional counseling within their philosophies of healing.
- Ayurveda encourages the use of all six tastes (salty, sour, pungent, bitter, sweet, and astringent) at each meal with food selections based on one of three body types:
- Vata – tends to be slim, nervous, very energetic, and erratic in behavior and body systems.
- Pitta – tends to be of medium size, fervent, and intelligent with a strict regularity of mind and body.
- Kapha – tends to be heavily built, with slow-functioning systems and a relaxed nature that expresses both sympathy and stubbornness.
- Clinical Nutrition tends to stress whole natural foods and nutritional supplements for health maintenance and treatment of disorders. Natural foods include organically grown, as well as those not processed, refined, or stored for any length of time. Naturopaths are foremost in this type of counseling and adhere to the philosophy that proper food choices will influence the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the body.
- Food Allergy Counseling helps individuals become “food detectives” to sort through and eliminate those foods causing hypersensitivities, allergies, and intolerances. Foods that are eliminated may be introduced carefully one at a time at a later date. A food allergist will ultimately design a specific diet for the individual.
- Oriental Nutrition selects foods according to the philosophies of Traditional Chinese Medicine, concentrating primarily on the principles of yin (cooler) and yang (warmer). This philosophy teaches the idea of opposites, with one unable to exist without the other. Therefore, the human body requires both for healthy function. The diet is also determined according to constitution, personality, health, climate, and physical environment of the individual.
- Macrobiotic Counseling extends the principles of oriental nutrition while keeping the basic principles of yin and yang. The individual will be taught to select seasonal foods grown locally, to prepare them in a specific manner, and to cook them according to macrobiotic principles. It is the belief that illness is the result of poor nutrition, bad eating habits, and a sedentary lifestyle. Individuals will be encouraged in an exercise program as well as diet.
- Western Nutrition teaches the scientific knowledge behind the nutritional function of foods, as well as the daily nutritional requirements for optimal health. By understanding the chemical components of foods, individuals are taught to make healthier choices in their selections. Nutritionists will point out the risks involved in consuming processed, refined, and chemically treated foodstuffs and will recommend changes in eating habits to promote a healthier lifestyle.
Credentialing for nutritional counseling includes the initials indicating CNC (Certified Nutritional Consultant – accredited by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants); LD (Licensed Dietician – state license); ND (Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine); and RD (Registered Dietician – accredited by the American Dietetic Association). Recognized practitioners can also be found within Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine practices.