December 19, 2011

Hairstylist-Nutritionist? The Perfect Storm....

I was on a salon website today looking to book a massage for my much-needed winter break when the bio of a “Hair Colorist/Holistic Health Coach” offering nutritional counseling caught my eye. 

This “hair color/texture specialist with over seven years of experience” developed a “passion for nutritional counseling”.   She studied at a school in New York city where you can earn certificates in certain subjects.  Apparently her “hair and health approach is a total mind/body experience”.  I’m sure.  Get some highlights along with a $250 nutritional counseling session. 

Upon further investigation of the school the hair-stylist studied nutrition at; I found a nice article, written by an MD on

“These schools are flooding the marketplace with graduates who market themselves as ‘board-certified health counselors.’ Their training is certainly not based on scientific nutrition as emphasized in the degree programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. That generally takes 4-7 years and includes science, dietetics, and closely supervised work with many clients. Certificate programs provide almost none of this. They teach—in effect—to use your own experience to inspire others.  I personally would not trust someone who lacks scientific training to tailor diets based on dietary needs or who relies on unqualified teachings to counsel patients. Nor do I believe that ‘counseling’ a few clients is enough to enable students to provide quality advice or to know their limitations. This approach might inspire some people to improve their diet by moving closer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, they may also absorb misconceptions about diet, health, and disease that will ultimately harm them.”

I really couldn’t have said it better myself.  There are many short-cut certification programs out there, but nothing will ever replace what I and my colleagues have earned through hard work, commitment, and dedication to the field of dietetics and science-based nutrition.  These people can only practice if the public allows it to happen and is willing to pay for these bogus services. 

I’m definitely going to this salon for a massage because I have a Groupon there; however, I won’t be seeking any nutritional counseling during my session  ;)   


  1. Years ago when I was researching nutrition programs I considered IIN - they have some great faculty and it's certainly faster, cheaper and easier than an entire master's program. They also provide much more support and foundations for setting up a business and actually making money. That said, I believe they should be very limited in the services they can provide. Personally, I don't think that working with healthy (and probably wealthy) clients looking to clean up their diets - to incorporate more whole foods, for example - necessarily requires a master's or an RD. The problem with IIN and HHC is knowing their scope of practice within both the world of nutrition and also the realm of counseling. And because they are empowered with flashy web tools and social media skills, they tend to reach more people than RDs (especially since they now seem to offer online classes). But I totally agree with you - therapeutic diets, treating medical conditions and chronic disease, as well as actual nutrition counseling and MNT should require greater education than an iPad loaded with nutrition classes, no matter who teaches them.

  2. I agree with you lady, that certifications and wellness coaches have their place - especially among the already-healthy. And you're right - they market themselves better than RD's I think. We need to take a lesson from them in that. However, I do think that the counseling skills, professional presentation and teaching experience plus sheer volume of practice we've had working with a huge variety of patients through our Master's and Internship programs makes us the obvious choice - even for nutrition basics and healthy eating. These coaches are making a lot of money by being creative - maybe we can take a lesson from them in that!

  3. Thank you so much for writing this! I have a blog where all I do is try to expose nutrition charlatans such as those taught at IIN and other degree mills. I'm a nutrition student I don't like having to compete against people with no business being in the nutrition field!