Nutrition Coaching Red Flags

Nutrition Coaching Red Flags

Nutrition coaching is definitely not hard to find these days, which is both a blessing and a curse. Let me explain…

Whether it’s in person or virtually, you can find a variety of different nutrition coaching services at your literal fingertips. But are they all trustworthy?

Unfortunately, no. Why is this?

Well to start, the terms “dietitian” and “nutritionist” have become sort of interchangeable in the health and wellness world, which (coming from a dietitian myself), is kind of a bummer.

Here’s the thing: a Registered Dietitian (RD or RDN) is a credential you can trust. The education and experience required provides you with a healthcare professional who is truly able to fully understand nutrition research, take your entire picture of health into consideration, and provide ethical recommendations. It’s not easy to earn this credential, so if you’re able to work with one, you know they are a hard-working and passionate individual who can help you.

So, what about nutritionists? There are definitely some GREAT nutritionists out there who are really knowledgeable and have great educational backgrounds. But the title is just not protected like an RD, so literally anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. Whether they spent years and years studying and practicing, took a 6-week online course, or did next to nothing beyond following a diet themselves.

The point of this post is not to bash nutritionists, because, like I said, it really just depends. I just want to empower you to really know who you’re working with and advocate for yourself to find the best coach, dietitian, or nutrition professional for YOU.

With that being said, I want to put these six “red flags” on your radar when it comes to nutrition coaching services, so, again, you don’t waste your time, money, and efforts. You deserve to work with someone who 1) knows what they’re doing and 2) will set you up for success!

1. They tell you to cut out entire food groups

I don’t care what your goal is (fat loss, increased energy, better relationship with food, increasing muscle mass, better blood sugar management, managing hypothyroidism or PCOS, etc.), you can’t make progress if you cut out an entire food group. I’m mostly referring to carbohydrates honestly because that’s still a very “trendy” thing to do, unfortunately. It still has attention because, yes, you can lose weight quickly by drastically cutting carbs, but you will not see long-term success by doing this. And I’m only concerned about your long-term success, because otherwise, what’s the point??

So, if your coach recommends drastically reducing carbohydrate intake to fewer than 50 grams a day, for example, it’s not a good idea. You need 75 grams of net carbs per day minimum, and much higher if you’re very active and/or strength training.

The same applies if fat is recommended to be drastically decreased. Women need at least 60 grams per day to have good hormone health. Eating that much less fat will not help you achieve weight loss faster. 

I doubt protein would be recommended to cut out, but you never know. We need carbs, fat, and protein every day! We like to refer to it as PHFF around here. 

2. They give you a cookie-cutter meal plan

So let’s say you sign up for 1:1 coaching and the first thing they give you is a meal plan. No questions, no “So what brings you here?” or “What does your history with nutrition and health look like?” Red flag!

Everyone is so different, so if your coach is pushing a one-size-fits-all meal plan at you, it’s a clear sign that they do not understand how to coach you as an individual with specific needs and preferences.

Not to mention, they should be helping you know how to eat WITHOUT a meal plan. 

I’m not hating on meal plans at all. I use them myself with my 1:1 clients. They are great for establishing new habits, new inspiration, and honestly just mixing things up sometimes. But I spend lots of time getting to know the client first and foremost. And they always know how to eat without a meal plan. It’s not their crutch, it’s just an accessory. We’re not relying on the meal plan to help them meet their goals. 

3. They don’t prioritize what YOU want to do

One of the biggest appeals in working with a nutrition coach is to have someone who actually listens to you and figures out a way to make your goals happen in a way that will work for YOU. Things are customized specifically for you.

This can’t happen if your coach isn’t even really listening in the first place. If they have their own agenda coming into the sessions, it’s not going to be a good fit. If something isn’t working on your end, your coach has to be able to modify the plan and recommendations so that you succeed. The priority always has to be on what changes and approaches make the most sense for your life. It can’t be what your coach wants to do.

Now, there are definitely some of you that want to be told what to do. I get that! But, again, the focus still has to be on what’s working well and your coach has to be able to identify that even if you can’t. 

4. They push supplements on you with no explanation

There is literally no reason for this. A true nutrition professional knows that “food first” is the best approach for health from all angles. If you find yourself working with a nutrition coach who requires or forces certain supplement products on you without telling you why, it’s just not the vibe you want.

There is always a time and place for certain supplements, but your coach should be able to provide recommendations for you to choose from that work for your goals, your situation, and your budget.

5. They push a workout program on you

Just like nutrition, exercise is also extremely individualized! There is no one size fits all when it comes to exercise, so if your coach is only recommending one workout program for you, this can be a red flag for sure.

6. There seems to be no flexibility

If while working with a nutrition coach you feel like you can’t live your life and there’s just no room for fun, it’s not setting you up for long-term success. What happens when you stop working with your coach and you have no idea how to handle vacations, holidays, parties, etc? 30% of our lives are weekends and fun things outside the 9-5 Monday-Friday. Feeling confident with nutrition and lifestyle is critical to sustaining the changes for the long haul. Having an all-or-nothing mindset just never works out in the end. Nutrition coaching isn’t a period of time where you try to be perfect and lose as much weight as possible. It’s about giving you the tools and practicing your skills with nutrition in ALL settings of life. If your coach thinks otherwise, hard pass.

Does everyone need 1:1 nutrition coaching?

Not necessarily! We all learn and find support in different ways. Sometimes group coaching is the ideal fit, like Metabolism Makeover. You can learn at your own pace and you find support from fellow members in the community. You might be a person that doesn’t need as much accountability and is very self-motivated. It’s also typically available at a lower price, which is definitely a factor to think about. 

Oftentimes, women will start with Metabolism Makeover and find that they need more accountability and support to make their goals happen. That’s when 1:1 nutrition coaching might be needed! It’s a more hands-on and individualized approach. You have someone specifically in YOUR corner, helping you in the best way possible, giving you tough love when you need it. You feel seen and empowered! Ideally, a great nutrition coach will also build your confidence and skills so that you flourish on your own when you’re done working together. It’s overall a great investment for your health long term. Do you see why having the right coach is important? Don’t settle for just anyone. You have permission to find the right fit for YOU!

In case you didn’t know, our team provides VIP 1:1 services as well! Check out our package options here if you’re interested in this type of support for nutrition coaching.

The right nutrition coach is out there for you. Don’t be discouraged if the first one wasn’t a good fit. Just like a therapist, you want a nutrition coach that feels good to work with. 

-Elle, MM Coach

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