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What Is Integrative Nutrition®?

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  • Originally Written By: P. Illsley
  • Revised By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2014
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Integrative Nutrition® is a concept trademarked by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition® that states that food is not just about physical nutrition, but also has an emotional, mental, and spiritual component. Many parts of this concept are more broadly known as holistic nutrition, and are taught by nutritionists who are not certified by the institute. This method has both proponents and detractors, but many people report positive results by adhering to this approach. Critics cite the expense of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®'s programs and the possibility of scams.

General Concepts

Holistic nutrition views food, eating, wellness, and exercise not just in terms of calories or weight loss, but in physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual terms. A nutritionist working in this field learns a lot about the different aspects of his or her clients; lives, including their state of mind, their health history, and even their sleep patterns. Though holistic nutritionists can and do help with weight loss, they can also help with disordered eating, anti-inflammatory diets, diabetes diets, and diets to extend a person's active years.

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A person's emotions and spirituality are also important in holistic nutrition. Since the body is seen as being connected to nutrition in this practice. Food is seen as just one part of what a person needs to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Nutritionists help people to choose food on the basis of what they like and what makes them feel good, rather than strictly based on its nutritional content. They also ask people to explore their emotions as they connect to food, and see how things like their careers or relationships impact the person's relationship with food. Additionally, many see food as having a spiritual component, and work with clients to determine what kind of spiritual impact eating makes for them.

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition®

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition® in New York City emphasizes the importance of health and well-being, as well as the personal, social, and even political aspects of eating. It provides information about vegetarianism and veganism; macrobiotics; specific diets, such as the Atkins diet; and practices like ayurveda. This school of thought seeks to provide its students with a new way of looking at health by taking into consideration all of the elements needed to be not just healthy but also happy. It was founded by Joshua Rosenthal; well-known graduates include Deepak Chopra and Jared Koch.

Potential Benefits

Holistic or integrative nutrition® is seen by proponents as providing more complete nutritional care than other types of dietetics, since it addresses components of nutrition that are often left out of other practices. In particular, many people like the social and spiritual aspect of integrative nutrition®. Some people have more success with weight loss or diet changes with this type of nutrition than with others, as plans may be more tailored. This method is sometimes seen as being very balanced, since it focuses on helping the client get the nutrition he or she needs from whole foods, rather than through supplementation.

Criticisms

Some critics of this approach feel that it is contradictory or not well-founded in nutritional science. In terms of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition® specifically, some people have criticized it for being expensive and not providing its students with enough training to provide appropriate dietary advice. Since there is no one accepted definition of what holistic nutrition is, standards of care among nutritionists offering this service tend to vary. Also, since there's no international credential-granting body for all integrative nutritionists, some people feel that there's no way to really know the quality of a nutritionist offering integrative advice, which leaves people open to scams.

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Discuss this Article

anon322659
Post 6

A "real" nutritionist is able to read the research journals and make up their own mind about dietary advice. They don't repeat what some book or charismatic healer tells them to think or say. Some of the stuff taught by this school indicates the teachers don't understand basic biochemistry and human physiology! This is stuff found in a basic anatomy and physiology textbook.

If you do not understand the very real harm the wrong nutrition advice can cause a client (who may look healthy, think they are healthy but be very ill), you should not be giving that advice.

Before you go to this school, make sure you check the laws in your state. Giving any kind of nutrition advice in some states (no matter what you call yourself) may require that you either have a MS in nutrition from an accredited college or be a RD. Some state's laws are more lax, some are more strict. A state that may allow you to practice today, may pass a law that won't allow you to practice tomorrow. The AN&D (the old ADA) actively lobbies nationwide to pass more strict licensure laws.

Like it or not, nutrition is a science that requires study and commitment to learn. Clients seeking your advice will assume you understand that science. However, IIN will not prepare you to do this. Hence, your education there consists of learning how to pretend to know what you don't know.

anon231370
Post 5

This information is more of an ad. It is what they say of themselves, not what others say about them. The nutrition programs in most universities are integrative nutrition programs by the definition used here. All integrate a variety of different nutrition theories. That is what nutrition is all about.

The accreditation society involved with this group does not accredit real schools, just questionable ones such as "colleges" that do not require college level coursework. So don't be fooled. Many, if not most states require BS or MS degrees in nutrition to counsel (same as coaching) clients on nutrition. It sounds to me like they are selling Ipads, not running a nutrition program.

Nutrition is a science -- no way around it. You cannot take some high school level classes and play at being a nutritionist by calling yourself a coach. Either you are giving nutrition advice or not. If you are giving nutrition advice, then you need to study the science of nutrition or else you are a fraud. For example, one class at this school studies the book "The China Study." If you want to counsel/coach clients, you should be able to read the original research not a book version of the research meant for laypersons.

If you want to be a real nutritionist, go to college to be a professional. Don't waste your time or money on this "school".

anon229326
Post 4

I've graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) back in 2000. It's been now more than 11 years in which I've been coaching people on improving their nutrition and lifestyle. You can read on my website some of the testimonials my clients have written. The process has changed their lives.

IIN has provided me with the education, tools, and confidence to be an agent of change in our society that suffers from an increase in so many health problems. --Zohar

anon216908
Post 3

I think it is a total scam. For $4,000 you take an 8 month program that overviews 100 different diets. Most people can already find that information for free online. A registered dietician has to have training in anatomy and physiology, organic chemistry, molecular biology and so on, equipping them with a much more thorough understanding of the human body and how it reacts under certain diets/lifestyles.

I know that IIN has changed people's lives, but so far the only people I know whose lives have been changed are the ones who paid tuition and are now a part of that community. It's a certification factory and the people who created it are making a lot of money.

EdRick
Post 2

@rugbygirl - The person who founded the Institute for Integrative Nutrition feels that all diet plans contain "elements of truth." I guess the idea is that you learn about all of them so that you know who will benefit from each one?

I like the idea of integrative nutrition but if I needed help personally, I would seek it from a registered dietician. They are trained in all different sorts of diets, too, and I think they have more extensive training. Apparently, you do not need a college degree to study integrative nutrition.

But I'm not all that "crunchy." Has anyone out there had counseling from someone with an integrative nutrition background? I'm curious what it really looks like in practice.

rugbygirl
Post 1

I'm all about holistic nutrition, but don't some of those ideas clash with each other? I've heard the the courses seem expensive - is integrative nutrition a scam?

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