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 arrangements, and monks meditating on mountaintops. But what exactly is holistic nutrition, and what sorts of career opportunities exist in this sphere?
We’re going to dive into what holistic nutrition and wellness means, what kinds of careers it offers, and the education you may need to enter this field.
Holistic nutrition and wellness is a vast discipline focused on whole-person health. A central tenet of this specialty is the interconnectedness of many parts of the human body, mind, and spirit. Holistic nutrition is the study of using natural foods, products, and wellness-promoting practices to support general wellness.
Holistic health practitioners center their work around specific interventions designed to support multiple systems, processes, and component parts of the individual they’re helping. By addressing the various facets of wellness, holistic health supports overall wellness.
Escoffier’s programs for holistic nutritionists are designed to provide students with industry-ready skills in nutrition and wellness – including coaching education, entrepreneurship, foodservice math and accounting, and more – underscored by a solid foundation in the culinary arts. In other words, students studying Holistic Nutrition and Wellness can learn how to prepare nutritious meals and the fundamentals of running a coaching business.
The holistic health industry can include everything from medicine to herbalism to acupuncture to yoga. The most common types of jobs among those who receive education in holistic nutrition and wellness specifically are typically related to supporting the body and mind with food. Here are a few potential career paths.
Coaching clients on their wellness journeys can be a rewarding experience. A nutrition coach works with clients one-on-one to educate them about making smarter food choices in order to achieve specific health outcomes.
Nutrition coaches can have subspecialties – like focuses on athletics and performance, prenatal or postnatal health, or weight-loss goals.
Personal or Private Chef
Another fulfilling and potentially lucrative career path is that of a personal or private chef. These culinarians work with clients specifically on food preparation. As a personal or private chef, 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 Escoffier’s programs in Holistic Nutrition and Wellness can also help equip you to join the ranks of professionals in a food service establishment, because the programs are rooted in culinary and nutritional cooking techniques. You may dream of starting your very own health food restaurant or specialty food truck. You may wish to work with fresh, local ingredients in a farm-to-table kitchen. Maybe you want to manage a nutrition-focused bake shop.
All of these options are available to someone who is willing to put in the work of learning 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 will involve research and development to find the right flavor combinations, and aligning them with the restaurant’s vision to determine which offerings work best 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 superfoods like acai berries, chia seeds, nettle leaves, echinacea tea, and more. Or they might intentionally incorporate certain edible ingredients into their tinctures and tonics.
“The Farm To Table® Experience was another surprise and by far my favorite part of school. We buy food, but rarely think about all the things that go into bringing that food to the grocery store. I had the amazing privilege of working on multiple organic farms. I got to feed chickens and collect eggs; plant and harvest produce and even cook things I just got from the farm. I have a newfound appreciation for the months of work that go into producing every element of a dish and that respect for food has undoubtedly made me a better chef.”
Antoinette Williams, Escoffier Culinary Arts Graduate*
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 ask yourself the following questions to see if pursuing this path is a good fit for you.
Are You 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, you have a hunger to know more about how they’re interconnected. Passion means you’ll rarely (if ever) be bored while working in this field.
Do 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.
Are You Interested in 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 being 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.
Not all careers in the holistic health industry will require a degree or diploma – fitness coaches and herbalists, for example, may forego a formal education and take other types of training courses or certifications instead. But if you’re looking to work in the holistic nutrition space, you’ll almost certainly need an education to thrive in your career. Why? Because doling out advice on food and nutrition requires being knowledgeable to help best serve your clients and customers.
And if clients are coming to you for help managing pain, discomfort, or disease through nutrition, you will absorb a certain amount of liability for providing accurate and relevant information tailored to their needs. Keep in mind that a 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.
“School can teach you each ingredient’s function and the science and chemistry so that you understand what’s happening. And when something does go wrong, you can recognize it and prevent that from happening in the future.”
Anne Lanute, Escoffier Pastry Chef Instructor*
The good thing is you can get credentialed from the comfort of your own home. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts offers 100% online programs in Holistic Nutrition and Wellness with a 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. Talk to us 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:
- What Can I Do with a Degree Focused on Health and Wellness?
- How to Become a Holistic Nutritionist
- Is Getting a Degree in Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Worth It?
*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.