Health Coaches have become an increasingly popular way in recent years to seek out nutrition guidance and advice. IFIC Foundation’s data shows them as highly trusted, yet science communicators know little about how health coaches work, where they learn about nutrition and how they reach consumers.
In this episode of DataDish: Your Trusted Serving of Science, Jacqui Bryan shares her experience and insights as both a health coach and registered nurse. In addition to her 20 years as an RN, Jacqui has a master’s degree in Health Communications from Tufts Medical School and has devoted over a decade of her career to lifestyle approaches to good health. She’s also a Whole Health Educator and Certified Health Coach, teaching her clients how to replace risky behaviors with ones that support a healthier life.
- What exactly is a “health coach”? As Jacqui explains, there isn’t much regulating when it comes to health coaches. Health coaches help “peel the onion” back and facilitate behavior change. Jacqui hopes that health coaches use evidence-based strategies that move individuals in a positive direction towards better health.
- What does your work entail? Jacqui consults with clients one-on-one, in small groups and all over the country. She also coaches individuals who are looking to become health coaches. Her whole health education gives her a holistic approach to seeing clients on issues including stress management, high blood pressure and other health issues.
- Can a health coach help reduce confusion about what to eat? Yes, but they must stay on top of the latest research. “If you look at all the diet books that are out there,” Jacqui says, “it’s not a one-size fits all.” Most health coaches have a toolbox of strategies — “resources that they know are safe.” She notes that many health coaches are not Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, so they need to work within their scope of practice.
- What should you do if you’re looking for a health coach? Check out the coaches’ background and experience. Are the programs they’ve gone through accredited or not? Consumers need to ask the right questions to find the right coach to become part of their health team.
We hope this podcast will help unpack the profession of health coaches. As Jacqui says, “It’s an exciting time for health coaching. I see it growing.”