“Holistic nutrition and wellness” is one of those terms that can often seem mystifying. It may conjure up images of complicated yoga poses, herbal tea blends, and monks meditating on mountaintops.
But what exactly is holistic nutrition, and what sorts of career opportunities can exist in this sphere? We’re going to take a deep dive into what holistic nutrition and wellness means, what kinds of jobs it can offer, and the education you may need to enter this field.
Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Defined
Holistic nutrition and wellness is a vast discipline focused on whole-person health and not just one component of the body. While there are a plethora of specialties within this field, most holistic wellness practitioners zero in on the interconnectedness of many parts of the human body, mind, and spirit, and how each co-exists in synchronicity.
Holistic health practitioners center their work around specific interventions designed to support multiple systems, processes, and components of the individual they’re helping. The exact role and day-to-day responsibilities of a holistic health practitioner will depend on their area of focus. For example, holistic nutritionists use natural foods, one’s relationship with food, and the food’s origin to support overall health and general wellness.
Escoffier’s programs for those interested in holistic nutrition are designed to provide students with industry-ready skills in nutrition and wellness–including coaching education, entrepreneurship, food service math and accounting, and more–underscored by a solid foundation in the culinary arts. In other words, students studying Holistic Nutrition and Wellness can discover how to prepare nutritious meals and the fundamentals of running a coaching business.
“A distinguishment of the Holistic Nutrition and Wellness programs is the intersection of multiple disciplines: we teach classical culinary techniques alongside foundational nutrition information and integrative approaches to wellness. We’re uniquely positioned to help students navigate cooking for health and how other forces influence a person’s lifelong well-being.”*
Stephanie Michalak White, Escoffier Lead Chef Instructor
Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Careers
The holistic health industry can include everything from Western medicine to herbalism to acupuncture to yoga. The most common types of jobs among those who receive education in holistic nutrition and wellness are typically related to supporting the body and mind with food. Here are a few potential career paths.
Coaching clients on their wellness journeys and teaching them how to follow a holistic diet can be a rewarding experience. A nutrition coach can work with clients one-on-one to educate them about how to make food choices that can allow them to achieve specific health outcomes.
Nutrition coaches can have subspecialties such as athletics and performance, prenatal or postnatal health, or weight loss. These professionals can also help individuals understand how stress impacts their diet choices, explore the concept of intuitive eating, and learn how to cook healthy meals for picky eaters. And through it all, they can help clients understand how other aspects of health, such as spiritual and mental health, can both impact and be impacted by what individuals eat.
Now, you might wonder, what’s the difference between a nutrition coach and a nutritionist? While nutrition coaches typically support clients with strategies to achieve food and nutrition goals, nutritionists treat specific health issues that pertain to food choices. Depending on the state, nutritionists may need to be certified through the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists, which could impact how long it takes to step into this profession. Becoming a nutritionist could also require additional education, such as a master’s or doctoral degree, and hours of supervised practice in the field.
Holistic Health Coach
Unlike nutrition coaches who really hone in on how nutrition impacts one’s entire body, holistic health coaches evaluate wellness through a much broader lens.
After evaluating a client’s baseline health, a holistic health coach can come to the table with actionable tools and strategies that may support physical fitness, nutrition, spirituality, relationships, and more. Although holistic health coaches can’t diagnose any given health issue, they can keep clients accountable by setting achievable goals and also referring them to a primary care physician if need be.
“I always sit down with my clients and I hold the belief that they are the ones that have all the wisdom. They have the internal guidance. I’m just here to support, to hold that container, to ask good questions, and let them remove the block they have to really accessing their own greatness. That’s what coaching is.”*
Julie Pelaez, Holistic Health Coach
Personal or Private Chef
Another fulfilling and potentially lucrative career path is that of a personal or private chef. In this role, you might work with one person or family to prepare all of their meals–often working within specific dietary restrictions or lifestyle goals. For instance, Plant-Based Personal Chef Lauren Lewis worked with Colorado Governor Jared Polis for over a decade!
Alternatively, you might work with a roster of clients, delivering them nutrient-dense, pre-made meals they can easily heat up or throw the finishing touches on. This is an excellent opportunity to serve healthy food to busy people–a demand that is growing rapidly in today’s world.
“I started my plant-based journey thinking, ‘If it’s plant-based, I’ll eat it or cook it.’ Then I realized that holistic health is a lot more focused than that… I think true health comes from eating mostly whole foods, looking at how things grow, cooking with the seasons, listening to your body’s intuition, eating what you crave–that kind of thing.”*
Lauren Lewis, Plant-Based Personal Chef
Professional Chef or Restaurant Manager
Of course, a foundation like the one provided through Escoffier’s programs in Holistic Nutrition and Wellness can also help equip you to join the ranks of professionals in a food service establishment. Remember that while these classes focus on wellness, they’re also rooted in culinary and nutritional cooking techniques.
These programs may help you fulfill your dream of starting your very own health food restaurant or specialty food truck. And they may help provide you with some tools that could allow you to open a health-centered kitchen or a nutrition-focused bake shop. All of these options are available to someone who is willing to put in the work of exploring the holistic nutrition landscape and applying it in a boots-on-the-ground job.
Menu design and development is another niche career that’s becoming increasingly sought out as restaurants look to differentiate from their competitors. In terms of holistic nutrition and wellness, restaurants may seek out experts to find the right items to feature on their menus–typically focusing on organic or farm-to-table ingredients, zero-waste or sustainability cooking methods, or dishes for specialty diets like vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free customers. This career typically involves completing research and development to find the right flavor combinations and then aligning them with the restaurant’s vision to create offerings that will work well for the brand.
While the practice of herbalism centers around using plants as a form of medicine, many herbalists choose to focus on the culinary aspect of overall wellness. These herbalists might work with clients to develop health-promoting recipes that include foods and herbs like acai berries, chia seeds, functional mushrooms, nettle leaves, echinacea, and more. Or they might intentionally incorporate certain edible ingredients into their tinctures and tonics.
“We know from statistics that 80% of diets don’t work. I think part of why I’m thankful that I’ve tried a lot of these is, when I work with clients, I have that understanding, that personal knowledge of what it’s been like and what I’ve experienced. I think there’s a lot of power to be able to listen to yourself.”*
Dr. Amy Sapola, Certified Wellness Coach, Institute For Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner, And Doctor Of Pharmacy With A B.S. In Nutrition.
Is Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Right for You?
Ultimately, only you will know whether entering the field of holistic nutrition and wellness is of interest to you. But if your curiosity is piqued, you might explore the following self-reflection prompts to see if pursuing this path is a good fit for you.
You Are Innately Passionate About Holistic Health
Perhaps you’re already an advocate for whole-person wellness. You understand that the mind affects the body and vice versa–and that health encompasses physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual components. Even if you’re not an expert in all these different systems or practices, a hunger to know more about how these components are interconnected could indicate you’re ready to get started in a career in holistic health.
“I think that in some ways, it was me tapping into what was already there and being able to follow that internal guidance by following the thing that lit me up. By following my passion.”*
Julie Pelaez, Holistic Health Coach
You Independently Explore Holistic Nutrition Concepts
You know what macronutrients and micronutrients are. You’ve done your research on gut health and how to support the microbiome through the food choices you make. Regardless of how much specialized knowledge you have in nutrition, if you find yourself continuously reading, watching, and listening to information on holistic health and nutrition, you may want to consider turning this into your actual career.
You Enjoy Helping People Through a Food-Related Career
At the end of the day, are you looking for a meaningful career path that allows you to support people on their health journeys? Do you want to use your current and future knowledge and expertise to guide others to be their best selves?
There’s no doubt about it–working with people on making mental, emotional, and behavioral changes will be challenging. But if you already have a heart for this kind of vocation, you might find it to be your most rewarding calling.
The Powerful Role of Education in Holistic Nutrition and Wellness
Not all careers in the holistic health industry will require a degree or diploma. Fitness coaches and herbalists, for example, may forego formal education and take other types of training courses or certifications instead. But if you’re looking to become a holistic nutritionist, formal education can help you show your clients you’re interested in this field, which can allow you to thrive in your career. And if clients are coming to you for help managing pain, discomfort, or disease through nutrition, you can absorb a certain amount of liability for providing accurate and relevant information tailored to their needs.
Keep in mind that holistic nutrition education doesn’t necessarily qualify you to become a nutritionist or Registered Dietician—careers that may require additional training or certification. But it can certainly help lay the groundwork for these types of niches by providing the foundational culinary and nutrition-related knowledge, putting you ahead of the curve.
The good thing is you can get a diploma or degree from the comfort of your own home. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts offers 100% online programs in Holistic Nutrition and Wellness with an in-person, hands-on industry externship. Explore topics like the fundamentals of healthy cooking or baking, principles of human nutrition, cooking for special dietary needs, entrepreneurship and business techniques, and much more. Even if your coursework helps you discover that you aren’t interested in pursuing a career as a holistic nutritionist, this program can help set you up for a variety of holistic wellness careers.
Pursue Your Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Passion
Perhaps you’ll discover you have a passion for working closely with others on their wellness journeys and opt to become a health coach. Or maybe you’ll find you want to create nourishing meals for busy families.
No matter what type of holistic nutrition and wellness career you pursue, Escoffier’s classes can help connect you with new skills, meet other passionate students, and prove you’re invested in your career—all of which may help make this program worth it. Talk to us today about how to take the first step in your new career path.
Interested in learning more about how food can support health? Try these articles:
- How Much Does it Cost to Become a Nutritionist?
- What’s the Difference Between Non-GMO and Organic Farming?
- Is Eating a Plant-Based Diet Healthy?
*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.
This article was originally published on February 23, 2022, and has since been updated.