What does a Nutritional Therapist do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A nutritional therapist meets with clients to make diet and exercise recommendations for health, tailoring these recommendations to the specifics of a patient's situation. This is a form of complementary and alternative medicine, focusing on the use of diet to improve health. Education requirements vary, depending on where someone practices and what kinds of services the nutritional therapist wants to offer. Some people attend formal certification programs and may be registered dieticians, while others may offer nutritional therapy as an adjunct to a main clinical practice like chiropractic medicine.

Some chiropractors may be trained to recommend vitamins and other nutritional needs based on a patient's individual needs.
Some chiropractors may be trained to recommend vitamins and other nutritional needs based on a patient's individual needs.

The philosophy a nutritional therapist uses can vary, depending on where he trains. Generally, nutritional therapists believe everyone has unique dietary needs, making it necessary to tailor a diet to the individual, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach. These practitioners also believe many health issues can be traced back to dietary problems, and can use diet as preventative medicine to prevent illness, as well as offering treatments to help people address ongoing health problems.

A nutritional therapist will likely advise a person to integrate more fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet.
A nutritional therapist will likely advise a person to integrate more fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet.

When a client meets with a nutritional therapist, the two will discuss why the client is seeking help and the therapist will ask a series of questions to collect information about medical history, documented issues, and the client's current dietary habits. The therapist can make recommendations for adjustments, usually revolving around integrating more whole foods like fresh fruit, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. The client may also need to eat a more varied diet to meet nutritional requirements.

In follow-up appointments, the nutritional therapist can discuss how the patient feels and make adjustments to the recommendations. These can include adding new foods, taking foods that are not working out of the diet, and working with the patient on developing an exercise plan. The nutritional therapist helps the client make permanent lifestyle changes with the goal of improving overall health and wellness. The therapist may work with other care providers to make sure the client's needs are met.

Nutritional therapists can work in clinics and standalone practices, and the rate of pay available varies. People with more certifications and experience usually make more money. Freelancers need to consider costs of doing business like maintaining premises, buying adequate insurance, and so forth. People working for clinics may need to follow specific protocols, but have their advertising, insurance, and other costs met by the practice, allowing them to focus on working with clients instead of having to run their own businesses while providing care.

A nutritional therapist may discuss how a patient is adjusting to their recommendations.
A nutritional therapist may discuss how a patient is adjusting to their recommendations.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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