Recently, we have been thinking about two characteristics of how ACE Certified Health Coaches and Registered Dietician Nutritionists (RDs) can interface:
Health coaches must know when and how to refer to RDs
As with any occupation that delivers care, it is imperative that health coaches abide by their unique scope of practice that is determined by state policies and regulations. They must know to refer their clients to a dietitian when topics or factors like requests for specific meal plans, disordered eating, or disease enter the picture. Health coaches must recognize the education and credentialing that dietitians complete to legally practice and that only RDs may offer individualized nutrition recommendations.
Health coaches help with education and adherence
Consistency can be difficult for any person on a treatment plan that requires lifestyle change. Health coaches are experts in evidence-based behavior change strategies. They work with RDs to empower clients to incorporate the dietary prescription and recommendations through practical lifestyle changes to meet their goals. From fundamental education on nutrition, including discussing federal recommended dietary guidelines to the goal setting, health coaches can serve as an optimal ally for dietitians.
In collaboration with RDs, health coaches are ideally positioned not only to support and encourage overall healthy eating behaviors, but also to use the nutrition tools and tips to empower clients to translate recommendations into practical dietary changes. Health coaches can incorporate high-quality nutrition coaching based on RD recommendations into their work while simultaneously staying within scope of practice and safely maximizing impact. At ACE, we believe that when health coaches and RDs team up to promote long-lasting change, it is a recipe for success!