The Key Differences Between a FODMAP Health Coach & Dietitian
You’re tired of losing hours typing “FODMAP diet tips” into Google and getting academic treatises and technical jargon instead of easy to use advice (or recipes).
You’re getting a lot of rules but they feel too hard to do on a daily basis.
You’ve decided that working with a health professional is the best way to get this done right because spending years becoming an IBS expert is not what you have in mind.
The biggest thing is deciding WHO do you work with - a dietitian or a health coach?
The FODMAP diet is so new (it was first published as a theory as recently as 2005) that there isn’t an expert waiting around every corner to help you. But the good news is, you have options.
The first step is to look for dietitians and health coaches who specialize in the FODMAP diet. You don’t want a generic person who has no clue what FODMAP entails (that’s just more wasted time on your hands).
It’s no secret that I’m a coach - the only Health Coach in North America who specializes in FODMAP (I haven’t come across another one). So basically, I’m a unicorn.
Difference between dietitians and health coaches
Both are food and wellness authorities.
Dietitians translate the science of nutrition in order to teach individuals, institutions, and food companies to eat and serve their customers for better health.
Health coaches are supportive mentors and guides who help individuals improve their health with changes in diet, as well as habits and lifestyle.
Next decision: Should you work with a dietitian or health coach? My method has worked for dozens of clients, but if someone comes to me who isn’t a great fit, I don’t hesitate to suggest they see a dietitian.
When do I send them to a dietitian?
I send people to dietitians when:
- They currently have serious ongoing medical conditions like cancer that may call for advanced nutrition therapy
- They take prescriptions drugs that could be affected by diet, such as insulin for diabetes or blood thinners
- They’re pregnant and want prenatal nutrition help in addition to FODMAP
If you don’t have those problems/reasons, congrats! You are in a great place to move forward with a health coach.
Pros of working with a health coach:
Provide custom strategies to each client >>> That includes recipe ideas based on your unique needs (including non-FODMAP allergies and sensitivities); or guidelines for how to order at your favorite restaurants.
Coaching sessions can happen anytime, anywhere >>> No need to find someone within driving distance. Most coaches see clients online and have flexible hours beyond 9 AM to 5 PM. One of my clients lives in Tasmania!
Accessibility >>> A good coach is available to answer questions by email as they come up, or adapt your plan so you never get stuck. No hoping someone returns your call. Regular check-ins and calls keep the momentum going.
Packages and proven methods >>> For example, my Free To Eat group program is designed to provide a specific result for a set price. When you’re done working with me, you’ll know your trigger foods and how to have a happy, delicious life with IBS.
No jumping through hoops >>> No asking for a referral, clearing it with your insurance company, or waiting months for that initial appointment.
Cons of working with a health coach:
- Coaches can’t diagnose unknown health conditions. Instead, we’re there to help you accomplish a goal. Examples: Doing the FODMAP diet; losing weight through clean eating; helping you get clear skin with food.
- Health coaches generally aren’t covered by insurance. Depending on your insurance coverage, a coach could cost more OR less than a dietitian.
- Coaches may not have a wide range of nutrition training. They’re more likely to specialize in one or two areas.
Pros of working with a dietitian:
Interpreting test results, such as blood work >>> This helps if new medical issues come up during your treatment.
Designing a dietary treatment plan from scratch >>> If you don’t know what type of diet will work for you, a dietitian can look at your diagnoses and create a dietary strategy.
National certification >>> In the U.S., registered dietitians have undergrad and often graduate degrees in nutrition, and must pass a national certification exam. (Note that most states don’t regulate the title nutritionist, so anyone can technically use it.)
Wide ranging, science-based nutritional training >>> This means they can develop dietary therapies for serious medical conditions, such as cancer.
Cons of working with a dietitian:
- They’re required to have wide-ranging nutrition knowledge, so they may not specialize in a specific area like FODMAP.
- Dietitians usually don’t see online clients and usually keep traditional business hours. You may have a long wait for an appointment, especially outside the U.S.
- Dietitians usually charge by appointment, and it can be hard to tell how many appointments are needed.
- Dietitians typically aren’t accessible to answer questions on a daily basis.
At the end of day, the most important thing is that your coach or dietitian listens to you, treats you like a unique individual, and gets you to your calm belly goal.
If you don’t decide to work with me, that’s okay! I want you to find the right FODMAP expert who can help you take care of your belly woes. You deserve to eat great AND feel great!
Need a dietitian, here’s my favorite person to recommend: Kate Scarlata
Want to work with a health coach? You’re in the right place.
My coaching packages range from fun, supportive group programs to totally personalized 1-1 services. All of them use my Calm Belly Method to get results quickly with as little stress and deprivation as possible. That’s how you get back to a fun, food-filled social life, even with IBS!